How to Get Your Kids to Eat Anything You Cook without Complaints

April 13, 2017

How to get your kids to eat dinner without complaining

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What if you have kids that complain every time dinner is served?  You just spent 45 minutes to an hour of your life making a fantastic dinner only to hear complaints.  Or the dreaded persistent questions like…”What’s in this?  Onions!  I don’t like onions!”  Ugh!

You try and try to make well-balanced healthy meals for them to be picked at or complained about.

The last thing I was going to do is make a different meal.  That just sets them up to be picky & spoiled adult eaters.  Here’s where I get old-school.  You get what you get and you don’t throw a fit.  The classic, “there’s starving children out there…blah, blah, blah.”  They don’t care.  They just want bratwurst.

I also realized that being kids, they don’t understand the effort it takes to put together a dinner for the family every night.  They’re 10 and 7.

We’d had enough, though!

This was going to stop NOW!

So, we tried wrapping up dinner.  No snack at bedtime.  If you’re hungry, then we’ll reheat your plate.

It kinda works.  Not great though.  Then, I read a fantastic article!  I decided to try it.

how to get your kids to eat dinner without complaining

Your Turn

I told the kids that they would be doing all the shopping and all the cooking BY THEMSELVES every night the next week.

They looked at me in shock.

But, it got their wheels turning.  Over the weekend they were talking about what they’d cook.  I’d say, “It’s up to you, it’s your meal”  I didn’t step in.  My son is 10 so I showed him how to google recipes.

On Monday, they wrote down their grocery list.  I told them to check what we had first so they don’t overbuy.

The Store

I took them to our large local grocery store and waited by the checkout while I set them loose.  Here they were in their school uniforms, cart in tow and excited.  I even saw one of their teachers come into the store.  I explained to her what I was doing and why she would see my kids in the store by themselves.  I got a fist bump.

I was a little nervous for them, but they knew the store well.  They’d been with me many times.  Pretty much every other day in the summer.  So, they knew where everything was.

They came to the check out area with big smiles on their faces.  They were so proud.  They found everything on their list and few other staples of course.  My son even grabbed some dye-free cereal.  Something he would complain about my buying him on any other day.

And they got some crab legs just in case!  Wonder what the people in the fish market thought.

how to get your kids to eat dinner without complaining

Time to Cook

We got home and as they were just getting settled in I reminded them it was time to start dinner.

They groaned.  Yeah you don’t get to relax when you have responsibilities.

So, my son really wanted to make salmon.  I sat in the kitchen and every bone in my body wanted to step in and help.  But, I didn’t.  It was their turn.

The salmon turned out great.  And they made brown rice, roasted broccoli and added a couple of pickles on the side for good measure.  And a garnish of parsley of course!!

It was the funniest thing and they were so proud of themselves.

how to get your kids to eat dinner without complaining


What do you do if you have soccer practice at an odd time or tons of homework?  Time management!  We all have learned to master this as adults so we can get everything done.  This is when it got hard.

We had a soccer practice one day where the dinner had to be abandoned halfway through and restarted when they got back.  A little tricky here.  Exhausting for them. They worked furiously only to have to stop in the middle of it.  Not to mention we have a fantastic dog that grabs food off the counter when you’re not looking.  So, there’s that.

Appreciation & Empathy…Success!

how to get your kids to eat dinner without complaining

All in all.  By the end of the week, we had a couple of fails, but mostly success.  But, the best part is the appreciation and empathy that I gained from the kids about what it takes to put a healthy, well-balanced meal on the table every night.  Cooking is also a valuable life skill that shouldn’t be intimidating.  Kids can do it.  They can do so much more than we give them credit for.

We tried this experiment six months ago.  They have not complained since.


Here’s the awesome article I read for inspiration!  I love love loved this post!  She has a hilarious parenting blog.


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