Games We Play to Get Kids Eating Better

kid waiting to eat a meal

I wonder if there were a giant scoreboard for mothers versus kids, what would be the final tally at the end of the game?

But, because there is no end to parenting, we will never know how many times our kids have beaten us at our own game. So we mothers just keep on playing, trying to outsmart our smarter-than-we-are children and hoping, just hoping that we’ll score a victory every now and then.


Take, for instance, the game of food. Who hasn’t played this one? And who hasn’t silently (or not so silently) cursed themselves for ever introducing the food culprit to begin with? It happens so innocently. You think it’s so cute that your little one has shown interest in anything more than pureed peas and pasty cereal. So you slip a little bit of a chicken nugget into the mix. And the next thing you know, this is the ONLY thing your toddler will eat.

OK, so I’m exaggerating a bit, but you get the picture. Once these kids find what they like, it becomes a battle to get them to try new foods.

So I started the Combo Game. Once a week we all had to come up with a food combination -- at least two different foods that could be eaten together. The rules were no candy, cookies, or ice cream and everyone had to at least try everyone else’s concoction.

The result was a mish-mash meal of food groups, but I have to say, when given the freedom to create, kids will surprise you every time.

My youngest loves all things peanut butter and, for some reason, broccoli. Peanut butter melted up a bit in the microwave mixed with the cooked broccoli ended up being a delicious new Asian-fusion dish. My middle son, the meat and potatoes eater of the bunch, had me create a sort of shepherd’s pie by adding ground beef and cheese to instant mashed potatoes. And the other one came up with carrots topped with maple syrup.

Which is probably what gave me the idea for my combo. When I was cruising the frozen food aisle at the grocery store, Jimmy Dean’s Pancakes and Sausage on a Stick caught my eye. I asked myself (I really did) if it would be cheating, but since there wasn’t a no-store-bought rule in place, I slipped a box into the cart. 

Score a big one for Mom! My kids went crazy over this fun-filled, surprise combo -- a yummy sweet sausage inside a pancake, popped on a stick. I simply zapped it in the microwave, and in less than two minutes, my kids were chowing down on their new favorite food. Plus, as a bonus, it contains 6 grams of protein!

We first had Pancakes and Sausage on a Stick for our Combo Game meal, but it has now become our go-to breakfast staple. I feel so good being able to send my kids out into the day knowing they’ve had a morning meal packed with protein that they actually love.

And while I clearly won that round, I know I’m still way behind in the Outsmarting Kids category.

But, hey, isn’t it the challenge that keeps the fun in the game?


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