Friday, April 11, 2008

Blended Cooking

My post from a few days ago reminded me of a little thought about area in blending a family: cooking. We had sandwiches one day for lunch when Sarah was here for Spring Break. I told her before I made the sandwiches that we only had homemade bread and offered to make her something else for lunch (very unusual for me -- I have a strict "this is what's for breakfast/lunch/dinner -- you can eat or go hungry" policy). I was surprised that she ate the homemade bread! And she liked it!

Kids being raised between two families have to deal with so much adjustment and change, often on a daily or weekly schedule. It can be tough for a kid to go between two kitchens and two different cooks -- not something contemplated in custody decisions, I assure you. There are a lot of times when I will make one of our favorite dishes for dinner and Sarah will refuse to eat it. We always make her try it, but most of the time if it is not familiar, she will not go for it. Even simple dishes, like mac and cheese can cause a problem. I make mac and cheese either from scratch or when in a pinch, I buy Annie's brand. Sarah was used to "the blue box" (as she put it). I have even gotten "I don't like that kind of ketchup" before. It can frustrating as the cook to have food refused and not to take it personally!

I have learned, though, to take mental note of the things I make that Sarah does like and to keep those on our menu when she is here. I stick with more generic items like steak and potatoes. I also make sure to have bread or rice (Sarah is a rice-a-holic) at every meal and we eat a lot of broccoli because Sarah likes it. We always have her favorite salad dressing in the fridge for salads.

In addition to trying to be conscious of Sarah's likes and dislikes, she has timidly tried food I have made and found she liked it. There are a couple of menu items that I have introduced to Sarah. For instance, she claims to not have ever had tacos before I made them. I am not sure of the validity of that statement, but hey, she loves my tacos! Sarah always wanted just peanut butter whenever I offered her a PB&J sandwich because she did not like jelly. So I made my favorite as a kid, my mom's homemade strawberry jelly. She loved it! She reminded me that it was the only kind she liked and asked for it over Spring Break. I did not have any, but I will be sure to have it this summer. At the age of 4, Sarah was sure I had invented the best dessert in the world: root beer floats! I certainly have a lot of fun introducing Sarah to different foods.

Do not get me wrong, I do not cater to Sarah's every culinary whim, but I think being exposed to different foods can be a perk in a blended family situation if the adults involved do their best to make it a pleasant experience. Setting a harsh rule of "eat or starve" can make for a very unpleasant home atmosphere. But allowing for individual tastes while still firmly but gently insisting that all new foods are given a chance before being rejected has worked well for us.

5 Thoughts From Others:

Jen said...

I remember as a kid when I went over to my mom's best friend's house to play with her girls that we always had to have a "no thank you helping." Hated it as a kid ( :) ) but I definitely use it now that I'm an adult and have to deal with kids! Kids can be such creatures of habit - sometimes it is so hard to "break." I love both of your daughters so much - they always make me laugh :)

ErinOrtlund said...

Interesting! I wouldn't have thought of that aspect of being in a blended family. Fun you've gotten to introduce her to some yummy things!

Chief Family Officer said...

It's never occurred to me that this kind of issue would arise, but of course, if you know how kids eat, it makes total sense!

I think it's wonderful that you're taking her tastes into account, while also exposing her to new foods. In our house, our three-year-old must try what I've made. If he doesn't like it, then I'll accommodate him with something like a peanut butter sandwich. But more often than not, once he takes the first bite, he'll eat at least half. Then he might remember that he doesn't like it and ask for something else, which is okay with us (though it is hard to not take it personally sometimes).

Camille said...

Jen -- true about kids being creatures of habit!! Anything new just isn't welcome.

CFO -- thanks for commenting! I love the one bite rule. We do that with veggies a lot. It's funny how they'll get half-way done before they remember they didn't "like" it!

Blended Family Fun said...

It's funny. We were just having this conversation a day or so ago about my stepson. We have a 50/50 arrangment so he's here just about every other night. Once, when he was four, we had broccili and cheese. My kids eat it heartily but he was sure it was the worst thing he'd ever eaten. Of course we were making him eat it and the sounds of gags, trying to swallow, tears literally streaming down his face trying to eat the broccili....

I do my very best to have that vegetable on the nights when he is not home to avoid that scenario.

Of course they grow and change and all the children have various eating issues that change with each passing day. It can be a lot to keep up with. - Melanie We have similar interests. Check out my blog at

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