In most ways, I'm a pretty typical mom. I talk to a lot of other moms both in real life and online, and I feel like I'm pretty up to speed on the current trends in parenting. And in one case, I know I am an outcast. Mealtimes.
The current "right" way to be a mom is to make one thing and that's what your kids eat. "I'm not a short-order cook!" is what I constantly hear. Or that people don't want to raise picky eaters, or they have to try bites of everything, etc.
My theory is a little bit different. It was primarily born out of desperation. My husband works most nights, and mealtime is just not a battle I am going to wage on my own every night. I'm just not. But also, I just don't believe in making your kids eat what you fix. Everyone has food preferences, some more than others. Why should my kids have to like the same foods that I do? For instance, my daughter doesn't like spicy foods, but we do. How many times do I want to sit at a dinner table "making" her eat something spicy? Zero, is my personal answer.
So here's what we do: The same dinner is served to everyone, usually along with a fruit or vegetable that I know my kids like. You eat what you want to eat, and you're done when you want to be done. When EVERYONE is done, if you are still hungry, you can have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
Here's why this works for us. First of all, my kids RARELY end up asking for a sandwich. Either they are really hungry, and they'll end up either eating or picking at dinner until they're full, or they weren't really hungry, in which case they don't need a sandwich. But if they do have a sandwich, so what? Wheat bread, peanut butter, and jelly a pretty balanced meal.
I have one relatively good eater, and one very picky eater, and this works well for both of them. My huge disclaimer is that my kids are all still little. I don't know if this would work for for bigger families, or families with older kids. But for me, it's most important that mealtime is a happy, peaceful time of the day, and that my kids learn to listen to their bodies and eat what they need to in order to be full. And that's what works for us.