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12-year old boys eat what!?!

Help! A friend of mine is bringing his 12-year-old son over to meet me for the first time for Sunday Brunch. I tend to me more of a gourmet, and have no idea what 12-year-olds eat. Obviously I'm not designing the meal just for the child, yet I don't want to prepare something that he won't eat either. Any suggestions? Thanks!

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  1. Most kids by the time they are 12 eat regular food. As long as you have options that aren't too out there and are simply seasoned, he should be fine.

    1. I'd seriously ask the friend what kind of eater their son is. Not too crazy fancy chicken is always a good bet. Or pork. I mean, when I was twelve anything fried and hamburgers were pretty much my staple, but it depends so much on the parents, ya know?

      You just want to make sure you're not dealing with a mac & Cheese only kid. And if you are - make the best baked mac & cheese ever.

      1. Well at my house growing up we often had bagels and a variety of smoked fish at brunch. The good part was everyone could put their own toppings on. You could make a main brunch dish (not sure what you had in mind, like a frittata or something) and then have a basket of toasted bagels on the table with a small plate of smoked fish and then other toppings (tomatoes, onions, cream cheese, butter and jam). That way he can top his own bagel however he likes?

        3 Replies
        1. re: taryn

          I think that this is a brilliant suggestion, and will appeal to all ages.

          1. re: taryn

            agree with taryn's suggestion (although fish might be a gamble for a 12yo boy)

            when we were kids and had friends over to play my mum often did what we have titled "A Mixture" a platter of sliced tomatoes, grated carrot, cheese, and whatever else was going in the fridge - cold cut meats, tuna, pickled onions, served with a basket of bread / crisp bread. that way she didn't have to ask each friend (3 kids plus friends) what they wanted, and rarely was there anything left.

            also if getting to know this 12 year old is important, something interactive might be a bit of an icebreaker.

            1. re: kmh

              Agreed that the fish will probably be too much for a 12 year old boy, so I'd suggest also have a flavored cream cheese and maybe some cold cuts in addition to the smoked salmon and trout.

          2. I think it's totally appropriate to ask his father what types of foods he likes -- and if you want to really win him over, don't forget a basket of breakfast pastries (12 year olds LOVE donuts). As long as you have some juice, bread, and maybe some bacon, he should be a happy boy. But I'd still ask first.

            1 Reply
            1. re: bards4

              It's not just 12 year olds. I'm 32 and still love donuts (at least the good ones)!

            2. Do ask. It could save you a lot of grief. I recently spent 2 weeks child sitting for my best friend's 12-year-old daughter who doesn't eat meat or fish or--for that matter--practically anything, other than cheerios, chocolate chip cookies, and pasta sauce, that isn't white. She may be an extreme case, but from what I read there are a surprising number who are.

              1. By all means, ask, but unless the kid has allergies or is very picky, I've never met a 12-yr old who doesn't like pancakes or waffles, especially if he has a choice of fruits (bananas, apples sauteed in cinnamon and butter, or berries), syrup, and whipped cream, along with some bacon. Add a selection of bagels, some different types of cream cheeses, smoked salmon, etc. for you grown-ups, and you have a meal you can throw together pretty quickly. (Pancake/waffle batter can be made the night before; don't bother to slice the banana or wash the berries unless he asks for them, etc.) You can also make eggs pretty quickly, whether they're fried, scrambled, or a cheese omelette.

                We did something like this for my 13-year old daughter's sleep-over a few months back, and, while we had to keep two frying pans on the go for about 15 minutes, we fed 11 girls, and judging by the shrieks, they seemed pretty happy. (We have an inexpensive Salton waffle cooker - I think we paid less than $20 for it - and it makes amazingly good waffles).

                1 Reply
                1. re: KevinB

                  My grandsons, who live in Latin America and come to visit only once a year, were 9 and 12 when I made them fresh waffles for their first morning here. I served them with a choice of carmelized bananas, confectioners' sugar, honey, and real maple syrup. They politely ate one each, but didn't seem to like them all that much so I wrapped the leftovers in plastic wrap and foil and tossed them in the fridge. A couple of days later the older boy took them out of the fridge, reheated them in the microwave, and the two of them ate every last one. Turns out, their mother buys frozen waffles and heats them up in the microwave. The crispy outside/soft inside texture was weird to them. They expected waffles to be soft and floppy throughout. (Ugh!) And that's the way they like them. So much for best intentions. Sometimes you just can't tell with kids. I still think it's a great idea. And maybe one day I'll get my grandsons to like *real* waffles.

                2. I agree, ask. It all depends on the kid. I have an 11 year old who would eat just about anything. But some of his friends won't touch anything I put in front of them. Save yourself a lot of grief, and ask so that you can be sure to have at least one thing you know he will eat.

                  1. I agree with all previous posts. That being said, you are the host and unless I'm misreading, there is just this one child. Don't completely upend yourself for him and make yourself crazy! If you're planning eggs and he loves eggs but only scrambled, ok. But if he only likes homemade muffins and you're not a baker, don't turn the whole meal around to try to put some together.
                    Being at others' kitchens means that kids are exposed to different things and while he may not try something new, he just might give it a go.

                    1. I have 2 boys 11 and 6 and PASTA of anykind always works in a pinch. Chicken is a good staple as well. Good luck

                      1. To add to the list:
                        Made to order omelettes (could be a nice get to know you activity); fresh waffles.

                        1. Ask... definitely ask. Or be ready to happily deal with a situation in which the kid seems to hate everything on the table. What's to eat will have far less of an impact than how you and the kid's father "handle" the overall situation. Worst case scenario, shove it all in the 'fridge and head to IHOP - there will be other meals, there will not be another chance at making a positive, or at least not-negative, first impression on a 12-year old. :)

                          (And while I know you're not asking about this, frankly, I think home-cooked brunch is probably not the best way to meet any kid like this for the first time, it's likely to seem very "formal" and "official" and if it's just the 3 of you with no other distractions, that'll be all the more true. My unsolicited advice would be to take him out somewhere, brunch or lunch and a movie maybe? The home-cooked meals can come later...)

                          1. Here's a thought: he's 12...ask him what he'd like. Or ask his father to ask him if there's anything particular he'd like. Maybe there's something he enjoys but doesn't get very often, maybe his dad isn't a good cook and you can fix something that you'll enjoy and that will get you off on the right foot with him.

                            When I was 12, I loved (still do) eggs Benedict but very rarely got them because I didn't yet know how to make a hollandaise and no one but my grandmother would make one for me. Perhaps there's something like that that he'd go for.

                            Other suggestions, in case you don't want to ask...blintzes or waffles.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: ccbweb

                              What a thoughtful idea, ccweb, kids love to be empowered with some decision making. Dad might not even know what his current faves are. 12 year olds are like the weather!

                              1. re: ccbweb

                                Hahahaha - my nephews at 12 would sullenly say 'I don't know' and then roll their eyes.

                              2. As others have said, asking is the way to go. My husband ate nothing other than peanut butter and honey sandwiches, hot dogs and mac 'n' cheese until he was in college - so who knows what this guy'll eat.

                                On the other hand, his father may not *want* you to make anything special. I was just invited to an early evening adult dinner party with my 4-year-old and I told the hostess specifically not to make anything particular for my daughter - she is learning that you need to eat what's served to you at someone's house (or some component thereof). It all depends. As they say, "father knows best!"

                                1. I like the whole "empowering the child" angle that's going here, and I think you should definitely ask if your friend's son has any food allergies or brunch preferences, but I also agree that you shouldn't compromise your cooking too much. With that, it seems like pre-teens are really into smoothies these days, so making fresh fruit and yogurt smoothies might be a fun and tasty pre-entree activity for you all. Be sure to get lots of strawberries, blueberries, bananas and OJ. For something sweet after your meal, I can't imagine any 12 year old refusing some chocolate covered strawberries (unless he's allergic).

                                  1. So to sum up all that's been said,
                                    1. ask the father and/or child
                                    2. make good, non-threatening stuff that most people like i.e., eggs, bacon, various breads/pastries/pancakes
                                    3. Don't change too much for the child or make too big a deal if he doesn't eat that much BUT
                                    4. If he's super-picky, try to have the go-to thing on hand that he loves

                                    Personally, I think the make-your-own omelette idea is a good ice breaker if the child is an omelette eater. But, really any combo of simply cooked, basic but good food will likely be fine.

                                    1. I totally agree w/ some of the other posters. Ask what the son likes, though be careful with this. If mom always makes him waffles and you are told he "loves waffles" so you make them you will be seen as trying to compete with mom. I think having different filling options for omlettes is a good idea.