Bullshit. Everywhere I look, I see articles, books, talk show spots, about how to make a meal kid-friendly. No matter how you dress it up, my kids aren’t eating beans. They aren’t eating avocados. They aren’t eating salad. Basically, they hardly agree to eat anything.


They eat: peanut butter (except for D2 who is allergic), bread, bagels, pasta (with or without sauce but you’ll never know which they prefer until you’ve prepared it. the wrong way.), pesto, shrimp, salmon, pizza (sometimes. and sometimes with no cheese. and sometimes only the cheese), eggs on occasion if enough ketchup is administered, corn, cheerios, goldfish crackers, bananas (only D1), grapes (only D2), apples (only sometimes), raisins. And then some other stuff depending on the day or week.

You can’t believe I would cater to these preferences. Pre-child Mary would be mortified. Pre-child Mary envisioned wholesome children enthusiastically devouring organic vegetarian pot pie that I made while listening to Joni Mitchell records as the children happily played in the adjacent room. Without fighting. And certainly without biting. Or hair pulling. But not my reality. They. Would. Rather. Starve.

What to do. Do you have suggestions, Miss-Mary-Downer? I only have a few tricks.

  1. Stop worrying about it. It is here that I like to apply the parenting technique CTFD (“Calm the F*** Down”). This isn’t medical advice. Without CTFD, meals become pretty adversarial pretty quick. And that whole mentality is counterproductive.
  2. If it’s green, pesto it. I’ve done this with the obvious choice: basil. But I’ve also done this with arugula and fennel fronds. There’s no special recipe. Do whatever you would do for regular pesto (TELL ME you’ve made pesto) but add the different greens.
  3. Cover it in tomato sauce. This doesn’t always work. But often it does.
  4. Keep offering it. Today they don’t like it. Tomorrow they might. Okay… not tomorrow. They’re on to you. Wait until they’ve forgotten you’ve offered it before. And then offer it again. You might hit a good mood. Or a growth spurt. Or an agreeable day (chuckle).

Sure, my advice isn’t fool proof. But they’re going to eat something. Sometime. Right? Right???

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Mary Galioto
Mary Galioto is the founder, publisher and editor of MercerMe. Originally from Brooklyn, Mary has progressively moved deeper and deeper into New Jersey, settling in the heart of the state: Mercer County. Formerly the author of an embarrassingly informal blog, Mary is a lifelong writer and asker of questions and was even mentioned, albeit briefly, in the New York Times and Washington Post. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English from SUNY Binghamton and a Juris Doctorate from Seton Hall Law School. In her free time, Mary fills her life with excessive self-reflection, creative endeavors, and photographing mushrooms. Mary also works as the PR Coordinator at the Hopewell Valley Arts Council, serves on the volunteer Board of Trustees of the Lawrence Hopewell Trail (LHT), holds a seat on the Hopewell Borough Board of Health, and is a member of the Hopewell Valley Municipal Alliance.


  1. Not pasta? I used to be able to get my girls to eat anything if i combined it with pasta. One of my favorite tricks was to coat fusilli with any kind of baby food vegetable and sprinkle with cheese. Very squishy and fun to eat with their hands.

    • Yes to pasta! I put my green veggie pesto on pasta when greens are in season. You’re sweet that you let your kids eat with their hands. I’m cringing thinking about messy squishy pasta.

  2. I agree, just keep offering and only have food you are ok with them eating in the house. I’ve offered salmon for two years now, and after two years of refusal, just this week D1 ate it and told me it was her favorite dinner ever.

  3. Hooray! Doesn’t it feel like an enormous success when your kids finally eat something new and healthy. Uggg… being a parent….