I’ve had people ask,” How in the world do you accomplish dinner time with such a large family and with so many young children? How to you accommodate all of the different personalities, likes, and dislikes?” First of all, we don’t accommodate. There are not options in the Ronne house hold, you either eat what is put in front of you or you’re going to be hungry. Secondly, we’ve incorporated something that I remembered from my childhood where each child is allowed to pick one food that they absolutely detest and they do not have to eat that food item ever. It’s their get out of jail free card, but, it can only be changed once a year. Everything else, besides that one item, you better be prepared to eat. Initially dinner was an interesting task. My three new children had not been brought up on the same foods that my four birth children were used to. I like to sneak spinach into just about everything and my new husband and my new children didn’t appreciate this aspect of my cooking. Their tastes have changed in the year and a half that I’ve been the woman in their lives, but I have also compromised a bit. I used to throw a bag of spinach into just about any hot dish and then roll my eyes as four family members would gaggingly pull little wilted green leaves out of their mouths and place them on the plate in front of them. I have since, on my husband’s suggestion, gotten smarter about it. I now usually process the whole bag of spinach in the food processor before throwing it into a pasta, burritos, enchiladas, or casserole. Honestly they hardly even notice it’s there and they’ve gotten so used to this fact about mom’s cooking that they just don’t argue it anymore. I usually enjoy cooking and trying new things. It was always my goal as a mother to expose my children to as many different food items as possible and whether they like it or not, I didn’t want to raise a bunch of picky eaters who would only eat corn out of a can and hamburger helper. These kids (and Ryan) have tried Brussels sprouts, spaghetti squash, prune cake, bread pudding (not a big hit at my house), kale, asparagus, eggplant, kiwi, salmon, perch, walleye, and mango to name a few. They did not respond well to all of them, but they have learned to eat a few of them. The whole family will now eat fish, not only without complaining, but everyone actually likes it. They will all eat asparagus without complaining which was something I despised as a child. None of them are real fond of prune cake so that won’t be gracing my table again anytime soon (sorry, Pioneer Woman). Point being, I want well rounded, well balanced eaters, especially my sons as they will embark on a journey of a new woman’s cooking someday, and I want them to have experienced palates that can handle just about anything she may throw their way. I have to confess, we do implement another strategy in the Ronne household to encourage healthy eating habits. Last year we noticed that the kids would come home from school at 4, grab a snack, and then eat dinner at 5:30. Well, they didn’t eat because they had just had a snack so we eliminated snack time and instead we have dessert every single night. Sometimes it’s just vanilla ice cream, sometimes, it’s chocolate pudding, but on the days when we will be trying something very unique and very interesting that may not go over real well, it’s usually a giant, moist, double layer, chocolate cake oozing with homemade chocolate butter cream frosting. This is strategically placed in a very visible spot as the family is eating and it’s usually enough encouragement for the pickiest of eaters in our family to finish every last bite on their plate, even the two year olds.
Just keep livin!!