12 Ways to Get Your Child to Eat Anything


A question I get all the time is, “How do you get your children to eat so well?” As toddlers my children enjoyed foods like salmon, beets, spinach, and pork. Today as teenagers they eat all kinds of international cuisines and even try odd foods like goat and alligator! Many parents struggle with picky eaters. Here are a few ideas to get your young ones eating more of the foods you desire them to eat:


attitude – Your attitude means everything! We never made a big deal out of new foods to try. Instead, we’d simply serve dinner as usual without comment. Our children were used to constantly trying new things, and rarely questioned what was put down in front of them. They simply started eating as we did. 


never say “you wont like this” – Oh my goodness, never use those words or anything similar! Going along with the suggestion above, try to stay positive about new foods and serve them without hesitation. 


start early and squish it – Once we introduced all the major food types (to be sure there were no allergies) we started feeding the children everything we were eating. By using a food mill we squished up basically anything and everything. Add a little water to chicken and squish it up. Same with veggies, fruits, soups, etc. Our babies ate the same meals we did. We rarely bought baby food and saved tons of money as a result. This didn’t require any extra baby-food-making time either. Which leads me to…


parents have to be willing to eat, too – Are you or your spouse a picky eater? If you want your children to try new foods then you might want to give them a shot, too! Children love to look to parents as role models. Try not to show your dislike too dramatically when you don’t care to eat something.  Which reminds me…


try not to use the words “I don’t like it” – Rather, we asked our children to say “I don’t care for this, thank you.” First, it sounds more polite – especially when you are the guests of friends or family, and second it helps prevent a negative, complaining attitude about food.


never feed them junk at home – don’t buy mac-n-cheese in a box, chicken nuggets, or hot dogs. Avoid convenience foods. Stick to as healthy a diet as possible using fresh meats, dairy, and produce. You’ll save money this way and trust me, they will not be deprived! Why not? Because when you go to Little Jimmy’s birthday party, Grandma’s house, or the next class field trip there will be plenty of hot dogs and chicken nuggets. I promise your children will never miss out on these things if you don’t serve them at home. P.S. we used most breakfast cereals as treats here, not breakfast. 


order off the adult menu – What do you always see on the kid’s menu? Hot dogs, mac-n-cheese, chicken tenders, and the likes. If they’re too young, just have them share some of your meal, and if they’re not – order them a real adult meal and take the leftovers home for tomorrow!


never cook two meals – Serving pork chops for dinner? If your child won’t eat, don’t cook a separate meal just for them. Take note of meals they absolutely do not care for and perhaps serve a healthy side dish next time that will substitute for the protein they don’t enjoy. But don’t take a box of mac-n-cheese out of the pantry and make a whole different meal for them!


don’t cave in when it comes to dessert – If your child refuses to eat dinner, tell them they may make that decision, but there will be no dessert afterward. It’s so easy for a child to ignore their meal knowing they will have cake later! Even if your dessert is an apple cut up on a plate, try not to cave in.


teach them to cook – Involve your children as much as possible in the planning and cooking of meals. Even little ones can hand you items as you cook or help set a table. Older children can learn how to prepare a meal with a protein, vegetable, and carb, and they can also learn how much each meal costs to prepare.


try new meals and don’t give up on old ones – I try new meals every week. The Internet has so many recipes to try I could make a new one every day and still never run out! Don’t give up on meals that your child didn’t like the first time around. They say (whoever they are!) that tastes change as a child grows. Maybe if your child didn’t like grilled salmon, you might try serving it in a lime-honey glaze next time. Keep a list of meals your whole family enjoys and mix in these tried-and-true ones with new and exciting meals. See a cool post on that here.


smaller portions – I’m not a Food Waster. I just can’t throw it out. Start off with smaller portions of food when trying something new. Children can always come back for seconds and mine almost always did. 


Do you have other suggestions? Leave comments below. Happy eating!



Weekly Meals for March 5th, 2017

I haven’t posted one of these in a long, long time!  Back in the day I posted what our family would eat in a week and how much our grocery bill came to. Back then, with three little ones, the cost was usually around $100/week. Now those three babies are three hungry teenagers and the meals come to about $150/week.

Here’s what we’re eating for dinners this week for about $150:


This is a beer and mustard pulled turkey dish served with warm, soft tortillas and pico de gallo. The recipe can be found here.

Image result for Pho ga epicurious

Pho Ga is a Vietnamese chicken noodle soup! We love it because you can top it with all kinds of healthy veggies and herbs. Make it as spicy as you want. The recipe is here.

Image result for cowboy chili epicurious

Cowboy chili! Served with a salad and all kinds of tasty toppings, this one is always a favorite at our house. Recipe is here.

Image result for kidney bean etouffee epicurious

Kidney bean etouffee with a scoop of white rice in the middle. An inexpensive and protein-filled meal that goes well with a salad on the side. Find the recipe here.

Image result for spiced coconut chicken and rice epicurious

Bowls of spiced coconut chicken and rice. Recipe found here.

Image result for pulled flank steak in red wine epicurious

Mmmmm. A shredded flank steak cooked in red wine sauce. It’s spicy and, to make it Cuban-style, we add lots of sliced green olives. Recipe is here.

In addition to these fabulous dinners we will have meatball subs and salad. For lunches, everyone gets leftovers from whatever we ate the night before. And breakfasts consist of homemade granola, eggs, English muffins, pancakes, waffles, or sometimes a special dish like Dutch Baby pancakes. 

Hope this inspires you to plan ahead, shop from your grocery store’s circular, and come up with a delicious menu that will save you money!




A Free Cookbook for Cooking on a Budget

These frugal recipes look fantastic!

Sheet Pan Dinners- HERO IMAGE / Photo by Chelsea Kyle, Food Styling by Ali Nardi

Find the free cookbook HERE.

Gabrielle Calvocoressi is a poet and essayist who recently published The New Economy Chapbook Cookbook: Volume 1, a collection of fortifying recipes for cooking on a budget that’s available for free on the internet. Its contributors are largely poets, other writers, activists—and passionate home cooks. Calvocoressi, who teaches at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, solicited their recipes on Facebook and compiled them into a zine-like volume: casually organized, refreshingly anti-aesthetic, and filled with tender personal stories of getting by in tough times. I called her up to hear more about the project.

You can read the entire article on the Epicurious website here.

Cookie Cutter Cookie Recipe

Image result for snowflake cookies

Did you know not all sugar cookie recipes work well when using a cookie cutter?  If the recipe is too soft, your shapes will flatten out too much and not look as cute as you had intended. The key to this stand-up recipe is corn starch. 

Cookie Cutter Cookies
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  1. 1 cup shortening
  2. 2 sticks butter, slightly softened
  3. 1 cup brown sugar
  4. 1 cup granulated sugar
  5. 1 teaspoon salt
  6. 2 teaspoons baking powder
  7. 4 teaspoons vanilla
  8. 2 eggs
  9. 5 cups flour
  10. 1 cup corn starch
  1. 1. Beat shortening, butter, sugars, salt, baking powder, and vanilla until well blended.
  2. 2. Add the eggs and beat until well blended.
  3. 3. Mix the flour and cornstarch in a bowl, then add to dough.
  4. 4. If the dough is too soft to work with then wrap and refrigerate. Otherwise roll out on floured surface and cut shapes as desired.
  5. 5. Bake in a 350 oven for 8-10 minutes. Cool on racks. Frost and decorate if desired.
The Excellent Wife http://theexcellentwife.com/


Cold Brewed Coffee


Cold brew. You can have it in 12 hours if you leave it on your counter or 24 hours if you soak it in your fridge.

Add grounds, add water, steep, strain twice, add water, enjoy.

Not bitter or acidic, doesn’t need sugar or milk (unless you prefer).

Drink it hot (add hot water to the concentrate) or cold.

Here’s some info on the latest fad that is cold brewed coffee. 


Epicurious gives a fancy overview of cold brew.

The New York Times easiest instructions ever.

Expert reviews on the best pre-made brands.

Videos here and, even better, here.



Iced Coffee with Muddled Herbs option 2 / Photo by Christopher Simpson, Prop and Food Styling by Ali NardiIced Coffee with Muddled Herbs option 2 / Photo by Christopher Simpson, Prop and Food Styling by Ali Nardi1471554408-Coffee_AL007.JPG



Oozing Hot Fudge Cake

This dessert is similar to what you’d get in individual ramekin lava cakes – but on a grander, more decadent level. The end result is so rich you’ll want to cut it with vanilla ice cream, freshly whipped cream, or both!

Oozing Hot Fudge Cake

Oozing Hot Fudge Cake
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  1. 2 teaspoons instant coffee
  2. 1.5 cups hot water
  3. 2/3 cups cocoa powder, *divided!
  4. 1/3 cup brown sugar
  5. 1 cup sugar, *divided!
  6. 6 tablespoons butter
  7. 2 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
  8. 3/4 cups flour
  9. 2 teaspoons baking powder
  10. 1 tablespoon vanilla
  11. 1/3 cup milk
  12. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  13. 1 egg yolk
  1. Heat oven to 325 and spray an 8x8 baking dish with non-stick spray.
  2. Stir instant coffee into water to dissolve.
  3. In a bowl, combine 1/3 cup of the cocoa, brown sugar, and 1/3 cup of the sugar.
  4. In a small pot melt butter then whisk in remaining 1/3 cup cocoa, and 2 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate chips. Cool slightly.
  5. In a bowl, whisk remaining 2/3 cup sugar, vanilla, milk, and salt. Whisk in the butter/chocolate mixture. Add the flour and baking soda and whisk till combined.
  6. Pour batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle the cocoa/brown sugar/sugar mixture evenly on top. Pour the coffee mixture gently over the cocoa mixture.
  7. Bake until cake is puffed and bubbling and beginning to pull away from sides of dish - about 45 minutes. Do *not* overbake!
  8. Cool about 25 minutes and serve with toppings of your choice, such as ice cream or freshly whipped cream.
  1. *Important! Be sure to note where ingredients should be divided.
The Excellent Wife http://theexcellentwife.com/


Wow, big hit here…




I made this version of goulash tonight that was pretty tasty. We even added it to our Thumbs Up List. My excellent husband would consider this combination of beef and pasta a comfort food .  I was quite comfortable eating it!  The meal could be made lower in carbs by serving it over spaghetti squash or some type of vegetable medley.

Fast & easy comfort food which uses beef and pasta.
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  1. 2.5 pounds ground meat (I used beef, but lamb or a combo would also work)
  2. 2 onions, chopped
  3. 6 cloves garlic, minced
  4. 2-3 T Worcestershire sauce
  5. 3 T paprika of your choice
  6. 2 t crushed rosemary
  7. 1-14.5 oz can beef broth
  8. 4 T tomato paste
  9. 2 red peppers, roasted and chopped in large pieces (or 1 jar roasted peppers)
  10. 1/2 cup sour cream
  1. In a large pot, brown the meat and drain. Remove meat from pot and saute onions till soft. Add garlic and saute one minute longer. Return meat to pot. Add Worcestershire, paprika, and rosemary. Stir. Add tomato paste and broth. Bring to a simmer, then add roasted red peppers.
  2. You can simmer the meat for 10 minutes and up to a few hours if you keep it low and mostly covered. To serve, add the sour cream and stir. Serve over buttered extra-wide egg noodles (or spaghetti squash) sprinkled with fresh parsley and salt and pepper to taste. Pass extra sour cream on the side.
Adapted from Rachel Ray
Adapted from Rachel Ray
The Excellent Wife http://theexcellentwife.com/

This Week’s Meals

This week we spent $149.47 at the grocery store and will be making these delicious dishes.  What’s on your menu?  

Rustic Italian Tortellini Soup Recipe

Taste of Home’s tortellini soup – I subbed beef broth and beef tortellini for the chicken & cheese called for in the recipe.  

Ina Garten’s perfect roasted chicken with roasted carrots & onions, garlicky collards, and Caesar salad.

Butternut Squash Apple Soup

Simply Recipe’s butternut squash soup, with the addition of some heavy cream. Served with kale chips

Elodia Rigante’s pasta e fagiole with sausage from this awesome cookbook.

chili nachos

Fridays during soccer season alternate with homemade pizzas and homemade chili nachos. 

homemade broth

I’m making a giant pot of chicken stock for a sick friend, for a meal for us, and to stock our freezer.

penne with sauce

And finally, I will simmer a pot of sauce (aka: gravy!) for an entire weekend day.  The house will smell like the Italian countryside and our family will look forward to our evening fall supper.









This Year’s St. Patrick’s Day Menu

My in-laws enjoy St. Patrick’s day because they’re partly Irish.  I enjoy it because I’m mostly hungry.  Here’s what’s gracing our menu this weekend, along with some boiled veggies:

Irish Beef Stew


Shepherd’s Pie with Scallion-Cheddar Crust

Shepherds Pie with Scallion-Cheese Crust Recipe : Michael Chiarello : Food Network


Corned Beef with Creamy Mustard-Wine Sauce


Chocolate Stout Cake

Recipe photo


Green Tea Cookies


Irish Cream Cheesecake

Festive Irish Cream Cheesecake recipe

Chicken Satay with Thai Peanut Dipping Sauce

Since the northeast’s winter has been so brutally cold, we were thrilled to welcome in a 55+ degree day with grilling.  The chicken satay turned out to be a winner, so I’m adding it to the 5 Petey Thumbs Up list.


Chicken Satay with Thai Peanut Dipping Sauce
This dish has a nice Thai flavor, but the chicken skewers are good enough to eat without the peanut sauce if you prefer.
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For the marinade
  1. 3-4 lbs of chicken breasts
  2. 5T soy sauce
  3. 4T lime juice (from approx. 1 lime)
  4. 3t turmeric
  5. 3t cumin
  6. 5t coriander
  7. 3T vegetable oil
For the peanut dipping sauce
  1. 1/4-1/2 c peanut butter (depending on your peanut-y preference)
  2. 3T brown sugar
  3. 3T soy sauce
  4. 1t coriander
  5. 1t cumin
  6. 1/2t turmeric
  7. 1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
  8. 1/4 c hot water (adjust amount to get desired consistency)
  9. 3T cilantro, chopped, for garnish
  10. Lime wedges for garnish
  11. Skewers soaked in water for 30 minutes
  1. Chop chicken into even skewer-sized pieces and place in seal-able gallon bag. Mix all marinade ingredients in a bowl, whisking in oil at the end. Cover chicken pieces with marinade, seal bag, and put in refrigerator for at least 1 hour, but several hours is better.
  2. Put all dipping sauce ingredients in a food processor, except water. Add the hot water, more or less, to get the consistency you desire. Taste and adjust any of the seasonings you prefer.
  3. Remove chicken from bag and place 3-4 pieces on each skewer. Grill for 10 minutes or until cooked through. Sprinkle with cilantro and garnish with lime wedges. Pass the dipping sauce.
The Excellent Wife http://theexcellentwife.com/