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What to Feed my Finicky Five-year Old?

I will be spending two weeks in August with my five-year old grandboy and while I am looking forward to one-on-one time, I am dreading meal times. He does not like meals and food. Sure, he gets hungry but all he wants is a snack which could be cheese stick or maybe some apple or chips. Super finicky and unpredictable in what he would be remotely interested in putting into his mouth. One of my ideas to try is to involve Jack in planning, shopping and cooking. Not sure if he will eat the food though...

Do any of you have similar experience? Any solutions, suggestions out there?

Looking forward to hearing from you!

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  1. fear not, you've got plenty of company ;) hopefully you'll find some inspiration here:
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/652509
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/355545
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/563910
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/623207
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/678020

    but you're definitely on the right track with involving him - it's always been my experience that they're more interested in trying something in which they've had a hand preparing. you just have to find the right balance - kids don't like to be told they *have* to eat a specific food, but too many choices can be overwhelming...so a good compromise might be homemade pizza, tacos or sandwiches where he gets to choose his own toppings and assemble them himself.

        1. re: Jay F

          I agree. Grandparents feeding anything and everything they eat is one of the rewards of becoming a grandparent. You don't wantthat precious child to have anything other than great experiences with his grandparents. have great fun.

          1. re: bobcam90

            The problem is that he is not interested in eating and food and I would very much like to get Jack excited about food, maybe just cooking at first and eating later.

            1. re: herby

              Not your job :) Costco has dinosaur shaped chicken nuggets. Never saw those to fail. With ranch dressing.

              1. re: bobcam90

                Depending on what the parents are or aren't doing to get this kid off on the right start... then you couldn't be more wrong.

                There's the chance that this grandmother may be the only one trying to influence this child about healthy eating and excitement about food. I'm the /godmother/ of a kid whose parents are raising him on a crappy diet - and I do everything I can to influence him. And the kid ain't even blood related to me!

                Herby - if you have any farmers' markets nearby, take advantage of them! Give yer grandkid a few dollars, and tell him to buy anything he wants (though I add the rule of 'as long as it grows in the dirt or on a tree'). And walk around sampling everything you can! Make a big show about how much you like the stuff you're sampling.

                1. re: ltdead

                  We're talking two weeks. If this were a situation where the grandparent was going to be a regular caregiver my answer would have been different. I stand behind my original advice. I remember nothing that my grandmothers fed us. I only remember really great times.

                  1. re: bobcam90

                    And if she's able to show him a /really great time/ with healthy food... that would be a really good thing.

                    1. re: ltdead

                      Agree. But if she has to choose, go for the good time :)

                    2. re: bobcam90

                      i only remember the pb&j sandwiches with chocolate chip smiley faces from my grandmother..
                      i agree just feed him whatever and have a good time together..lifes too short

                      i didnt ask about what she cooked and the ways and recipes until much later in life...
                      now that shes gone...i am the one that makes the "stuff like grandma used to"

                      1. re: bobcam90

                        I remember everything my grandmother fed me. Real wholesome food, grown with care, and cooked with love. It was and is the backbone of my culinary experience.

                        Don't just feed him whatever. For one, my kids don't eat junk regardless of the source so grandparents don't get a pass on the processed chicken nuggets. And too, you have the power to make a positive impression on his eating habits. Don't waste it.

                        1. re: JudiAU

                          I remember my times with my great aunt--we moved away from her when I was 6--as times for no rules. She couldn't have kids and she and her husband were quite wealthy, they smoked, they drank, they took us to steak houses where we got lots of Shirley Temples with extra cherries, they let us stay up for the late, late movie with popcorn and extra butter, and for breakfast she served us plum baby food--which my sister and I loved--fried Taylor pork roll with catsup and toast with lots of butter and jam. I have no memories of what I was served as a young kid at any other relatives house.

                2. re: bobcam90

                  What if those grandparents live with you, though? Does that mean that every day should be a free-for-all with junk food because they don't want anything "other than great experiences with grandparent"? What happened to intergenerational rearing where the grandparents didn't indulge, they taught. It used to be that grandparents helped rear the children, not cater to their every unhealthy whim.

                  I'm sorry, but I think this excuse is just justification for letting kids pig out on junk. Letting kids eat crappy, junky, fatty, processed food doesn't show grandparently love. Enjoying the time doing things like playing on the swings, or having a hand or cards, or doing a craft, or participating in a common interest does. Food (especially junk food) does not equal love.

              2. My son, too, was a finicky eater. He would eat like a bird for weeks on end, then suddenly he'd start eating in a regular fashion and then two weeks later, he'd shoot up two inches. Our pediatrician told us not to worry, that he would eat when his body told him to eat. He turned out fine.....a healthy, fit U.S. Marine :=) When I tried to get him interested in food, I started with homemade pizza. He got to put on his favorite toppings. Now he does the same thing, but during the summer he makes pizza on the outdoor grill. Good luck and enjoy your grandbaby's visit!!

                1 Reply
                1. re: pilotgirl210

                  I was also going to suggest homemade pizza. make the dough and let him help knead and punch it, spread the sauce, sprinkle the cheese and pick the toppings to add. Very interactive food will help the pickiness, i think. I have a 2.5 year old who's a great eater. I involve her in chopping veggies, tasting ingredients, smelling spices, etc. and she loves it. Her palate is more varied and adventurous than most of her friends and I don't believe in her eating processed crap at all. instead she eats most of what we eat. She loves fish, asapargus, broccoli and all manner of other veggies. tonight she passed up the homemade mac & cheese i served her as a side for more roasted asparagus and steamed broccoli tossed with curry shallot butter.

                  make smoothies or popsicles with yogurt and fresh or frozen fruit. have him help prep the veggies -- snipping sugar snap peas or green beans can make them more fun. and both are great to eat with little fingers.

                  prosciutto and fresh mozzarella; orichiette pasta with whatever you think he'll tolerate -- crumbled sausage, peas, parmesan, etc. My little one doesn't like tomato sauce, but maybe your little guy does? make baby meatballs to add in or eat plain. make grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch cut into fun shapes? make "homemade" pigs in blankets with mini chicken or andouille sausages and pizza dough or crescent roll dough.

                  breakfast foods are also popular here. i make pumpkin waffles, lemon ricotta pancakes, applesauce pancakes, etc.

                2. My 10 year old daughter is similar. I have success when I get her involved. She made her own pizza with sauce, shredded carrots and honey. Not something I will ever eat but she liked it. I also do well when I put anything on a stick. I dont know why but food on a toothpick all the way up to a pointy chop stick works for both my kids. I also tell them that I want them to eat a lot of colors. They get to pick the (healthy) foods and they have to get it to look like a rainbow. Works well with friut, sometimes with veggies. They get extra points if they can shape it like a rainbow on the plate. Stay away from foods that are bitter and foods that are hard to identify quickly. Casaroles never work in my house. If they dont want to help cook, I have them help assemble at the table with tacos or pita pockets.
                  Good luck.

                  1. I'm going to agree w/ silverstarfish. My 3 yr old is picky, and eats "well" every few days like a camel. Homemade pizza has been a success lately as she likes to help put the sauce and cheese on. I made it in my cast-iron skillet and it worked out very well. ( I ate it for dinner that night, too b/c The Husband was out) She is very into breakfast for dinner ( eggs and pancakes) and likes to help mix and stir. Then she plays while I finish getting things cooked and ready. She lives on baby carrots and slices persian cukes. I offer "dips" to try to expand her palate. Sometimes I win, sometimes no. I try different mild sauces in pastas, too. Not always tomato. I make homemade chick parm and she can choose between plain cutlet or with sauce. Meatballs are a hit- sometimes. If he's into "helping" quesadillas could work b/c he could choose what else besides cheese to put in.

                    1. Off the kid a well rounded, balanced diet 3 times a day....No in between snacks/treats period!!
                      He will not starve himself to death...I promise!

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: Uncle Bob

                        Oh, you are so right and if I was the main care giver (as in a parent), this is the route I'll take. But I am just visiting for two weeks and do not want a battle or a starving boy or an unhappy boy coupled with super miserable grandmother... I would like for the both of us to have a super time while maintaining Jack's nutrition; the ideal would be to make him love food:)

                        1. re: Uncle Bob

                          This is the best advice ever, and those are the rules I lived by...as a parent. I had to make certain exceptions because of sports, but overall I raised great eaters and this is the key. Grandparents play such a different role, so I really do understand the dilemma. As snacks mine always had fruits, cheese, yogurts, and eggs (yep, they loved their hard boiled eggs and they didn't take after me ;)) I'll give this some more thought and post if I have better ideas; bobcam mentioned the chicken nuggets - wonderful!

                          1. re: Uncle Bob

                            Kids that age still need snacks between meals.

                            1. re: MrsCheese

                              I agree. Even some adults function better on a series of small meals throughout the day rather than three big ones. Also, there's a difference between snacks and treats; obviously, you don't want a kid munching their way through a bag of Oreos an hour before dinner, but an apple or some cheese is another story.

                          2. Thank you all for many wonderful suggestions - I know, I can always count on Ch'ers for food advice whether it is a sick friend I am cooking for or a fussy grandboy:) I will check those chow links, GHG, next week and start making notes and finding places to shop. We will be staying in East Hamptons, pretty much at the land's end, and I do not know farmers' markets and small groceries as I live in Canada most of the time:)

                            If any of you live over there, I would very much appreciate suggestions on places where Jack can get hands-on experience with crafts like clay, etc. - totally off the topic, I know.... crawling under a rock...

                            1. Maybe think about taking him to buy an appliance his parents do not own (which can be a gift to them if you already have one), like a wafflemaker, Foreman grill, or blender. Let him help choose the one you buy, then together make some of the recipes in the booklet that accompanies it.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: greygarious

                                Ooh, good idea. What about those Mickey Mouse shaped pancake "molds"?

                              2. I have yet to meet a (non vegetarian) child who can resist teriyaki chicken drummettes and rice. Preferably following up a stimulating physical activity that's fun - the hunger and momentum makes the meal so rewarding. And don't make a big deal out of the eating - it's just good, then on to the next thing, so it doesn't become a basis for a contest or over-focus.

                                1. I think getting him involved would be fun! Some ideas:
                                  --Smoothies: let him pick from a variety of fresh/frozen fruits and put them in the blender (which you will run, obviously). Most kids like berries. Add yogurt, milk, heck, even ice cream.
                                  --If you can, find some of those Japanese rice molds. You press rice into them while still warm to make shapes. My 5-year-old LOVES his molds and will dip them in almost anything.
                                  --I agree with the other posters that anything like pizza or quesadillas where he can control the ingredients would be good. What about panini or even something fun like waffle sandwiches? (bread in the waffle maker).
                                  --Meatballs!
                                  --Can you go to a you-pick farm or a community garden or a farmer's market? Even picky kids will sometimes try veggies if they pick them themselves. Same with eggs -- he might be into making/eating eggs if he can meet the chickens. My son loves cracking and scrambling eggs.
                                  --Breakfast foods are usually pretty safe. Pancakes/waffles for dinner are good.
                                  --Like others said, gadgets might be good. Or anything that involves rolling dough, squeezing something from a pastry bag, decorating. Then it's more like crafts than cooking.
                                  --If all else fails, you can always make old-fashioned popcorn, homemade fruit popsicles or even just cookies. At least you'll be doing something together, and they're better than chips.
                                  --Remember that sometimes it just helps to keep various components separate. My son (who luckily isn't picky!) is much more comfortable with food when the items are separate and identifiable, rather than mixed together.
                                  Good luck!

                                  1. I have heard of a child starving to death when a nutty parent withheld food but I have never heard of a child starving to death because he was a picky eater, and this one isn't going to starve to death in two weeks. Sounds like a control fight between Child and Someone Else. If he catches on that his eating is supreme importance to you, you will lose the fight.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Querencia

                                      I agree with everything you said, Querencia, particularly the control aspects of picky eating. Also, one of the parenting magazines that magically started appearing at our house when we had a baby did an article on "picky" eaters, and found that most of them actually ate reasonably well-balanced diets over the course of a week. The trick is to think of it that way -- as in, "Well, he had ketchup for dinner tonight, but yesterday he ate spinach and whole-grain toast" -- rather than on a daily basis.

                                    2. I always loved fried vegetables when I was growing up, and zucchini blossoms are out now too. Get him when he's hungry, he'll love them. Good luck, and btw when mine stayed with their grandmother (don't get me wrong, I adore her) I had the opposite problem. Grandmas do love to spoil ;)

                                      1. Take him shopping and you pick something then he picks something until you're done. Then let him help you make meals and he either eats them or not. Really what else can you do when it's only 2 weeks.

                                        1. lots of great stuff here already, but in the vein of involving him in the cooking, maybe some fun "goofy" (to a kid) preparations like...

                                          -waffle iron - make grilled sammies or other stuff like eggplant (if he thinks it looks cool, might try it...) http://www.waffleizer.com

                                          -if you're up to it, homemade pasta cut fun shapes or ravioli also in fun shapes

                                          -meatloaf cupcakes with mashed potato (or sweet potato) "frosting"

                                          -baked or fried polenta cut into fun shapes

                                          -no knead bread- let him mix and shape

                                          -stuffed twice baked potatoes

                                          -sailboats - deviled eggs with toothpick and paper sails

                                          -bite-sized versions of things - 1 inch tea sandwiches (less goes to waste too), mini tacos, chicken quesadilla bites, etc

                                          and for fun... make gummi bears from scratch :

                                          )

                                          have FUN! i used to love going to stay with my dad's mom. i routinely ate the same things, and have such fond memories of those things (particularly a cinnamon danish she would always buy and have on hand from a nearby bakery)

                                          2 Replies
                                            1. re: invinotheresverde

                                              Meatloaf cupcakes are always a hit with my otherwise meat-hating seven-year-old. He gets to frost them with mashed potatoes and garnish with peas and small pieces of carrot. I never thought to use sweet potatoes, but I think we'll give it a try sometime this week!

                                          1. My experience from watching my mom care and feed my son and niece. They were enamored with whatever she made them. To this day, and they're in their 20's, they will tell you one of their favorite meals is baked scrod with bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese, broccoli, and rice.

                                            My son loved pasta and cheese. I tried pasta, spinach and ricotta, a Marcella Hazan recipe, and he gobbled it down! I was thrilled.

                                            I also had him help me "cook", and he was very involved with the shopping.

                                            1. Thank you all wonderful creative people! So many ideas - I will try many and hopefully we will have super time. It is only two weeks but I do not want him going hungry not because he will starve but because hungry kids are super cranky:)

                                              1. My initial answer is whatever you're eating.

                                                My reasoning is that parents are so worried about their children not eating that they'll cater to the child giving the child too many choices. The end result is a child that tends to be finicky.

                                                The approach is to set meals at a particular time and make it a family event. Encourage the child to eat with you all, one bite at a time.

                                                However, since you're the g'ma and want the child to have a good time for his two week stay, you're in a tough spot. Just know that he won't starve and that you won't put up with cranky behavior.

                                                I guess my ideas are kind of old school.

                                                1. Not many kids don't like macaroni and cheese. If he goes for that, try sneaking a cut up hotdog or some peas in the leftovers the next day. If it's any consolation, two of my three kids went through phases of strange eating habits, but they are enthusiastic omnivores as adults.

                                                  1. Tripe

                                                    Then kidneys

                                                    Then liver.

                                                    Repeat.

                                                    The kid will eat anything after that....

                                                    6 Replies
                                                    1. re: Karl S

                                                      hehehehehe I'm going to try that on my seven year old. Perhaps with an intermezzo of lima beans.

                                                      1. re: Siobhan

                                                        Ha. My kids love lima beans. Bean with "coats" are always a big hit.

                                                        1. re: JudiAU

                                                          When I was in kindergarten, I'd go to school in the morning and stay with a sitter in the afternoon while mom worked. One evening, after my mother picked me up, I asked her for *trees* for dinner. It was driving her nuts trying to figure out what *trees* were. Finally she called the sitter and after much discussion, they figured out I was talking about cauliflower! I miss the *Kids Say The Darnedest Things* show with Art Linkletter!! There I go, dating myself again.

                                                          1. re: JudiAU

                                                            My kids (3 & 6) love lima beans too. They got interested in them after we read a fabulous book by David Shannon (of "No David" fame) called "A Bad Case of Stripes." The main character won't eat lima beans even though she really loves them because she wants to fit in with other kids who hate them. She ends up breaking out in stripes which change to whatever anyone else suggests (polka dots, etc.). Sounds preachy, but it's hysterical. So - that's my other suggestion. Find books about food and eat what they eat! Just like grown up book club! Other titles -- Bread & Jam for Frances, Gus Was a Friendly Ghost (cheese things), lots of alphabet books. Enjoy!

                                                            1. re: jessinEC

                                                              Like Harriet the Spy. Tomato sandwiches are still a favorite. Of course, now the bread and mayonnaise is home-made, and the tomatoes are grown in my own garden. Harriet never had it so good!

                                                      2. It's a toughy for sure, but I've learned through long experience that it will become a power struggle if Jack senses the depth of it's importance to you. As long as you have a healthy variety of foods he likes around, he'll eat. You might set aside a bowl of cherry tomatoes, carrot and celery sticks, etc. w/ a low-fat dip of some sort; grilled cheese and soup are fine for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and never forget the cold cereal cabinet - with low-fat milk and sliced fresh fruit, there's dinner. You're great in wanting to involve him, and it's absolutely true that his inclusion will probably spur his interest - if he picks the veg. he's willing to try, along with an oven-baked (by you, natch) cereal-breaded chicken breast, or some other lean protein, all will be well. Never forget the soup stash, either; kids will sometimes try in one form what they claim to despise in another (evidenced by my darling dotter, who HATES onions and will proclaim it loudly, just short of a tantrum - not pretty in a 25-year old - but who would, from a very, very early age, chow down heavily on French onion soup, as in, none for us all.) Chicken legs in any form (bbq, teriyaki, whatever) will usually get you a far piece, and are so easy to make bunches of in advance. Pasta with cottage cheese. Cottage cheese and fruit. Have him pick fruit and vanilla yogurt and teach about smoothies. Always with the scrambled egg, or have a jar of pizza sauce and premade dough on hand; shredded cheese and Jack's veg. or meat of choice, there's dinner. Don't worry. Enjoy. He'll get there eventually, especially with a fine role model. Oh, and baked potatoes, with cheese - most kids go for those.

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: mamachef

                                                          Thank you, mamachef, for your encouraging and creative advice! I need to sit down with this thread that has a wealth of info and make plan A and plan B, which I will do before the weekend. Will have my laptop along to check out any new info and to post successes and failures as we go along. I have been with Jack on my own before and at one time he did not eat at all for two days - he was sick then but even so - it just fricked me out. He is older now and such a wonderful little boy - I am looking to having good times not too focused on getting the food into him but rather enjoying making it together and, hopefully, eating:)

                                                          Will post what worked and what did not once this adventure starts in three weeks. Keep sending ideas - I am taking my laptop along and will be keeping up-to-date on your advice!

                                                          Many thanks to all of you, chowhounds!

                                                          1. re: herby

                                                            I think you're going to have a really, really good time. And my daughter also checked in to remind me that we had some stunning successes with "mixed-up-days" - each child could pick a menu, and we'd route it straight to the wrong place. Days we had spaghetti and garlic bread for breakfast and oatmeal with scrambled and bacon for dinner were stellar. And she says if he's into soup, float some popcorn in it, or croutons. And don't forget you can make really delicious healthy fruit gelatins with him, using fruit juice, fresh fruit and natural gelatine, in little cups. He will gobble them right up. And peanut butter in celery, with some raisins for flair.

                                                        2. Feed him what his parents feed him.

                                                          2 Replies
                                                          1. re: pikawicca

                                                            That's exactly what I do not want to do - his parents feed him snacks that he asks for to satisfy the hunger. I want him to start enjoying food - experiment with different textures and tastes - go to farmers markets to select food and then cook it together at home. At least I want to start this kind of thinking in Jack - not just sustenance but a pleasure, a joy. Oh, well... maybe just a wish... I'll report back to let you know what worked and what did not.

                                                            1. re: herby

                                                              Is the problem with the snacks that they aren't healthy, or that they don't happen at mealtimes? Who cares what time he eats? If he's eating cheese sticks, apple slices, and crackers at 10am, I'd call it lunch and let him nibble whatever he wants at noon. And the times when kids are hungriest are the times it's easiest to get them to eat something nutritious.

                                                              I have a picky 5-year-old too, but I don't really sweat it. The only people I know who stayed picky into adulthood are those who were forced to eat foods they didn't like as kids. Some things that most kids I know like are:

                                                              watermelon
                                                              yogurt in tubes (good in the freezer)
                                                              popsicles (we freeze yogurt shakes)
                                                              applesauce
                                                              baby carrots
                                                              hot dogs
                                                              pizza

                                                              As far as experimenting with textures and tastes, this is not the developmental time for that, in my opinion. Little kids like predictability and routine.

                                                          2. My mom introduced my son to many, many new and different things. He would be more inclined to eat things she made because she made it seem exotic and cool. If your grandson has any adventure in his soul at this point, you can use your grandma cred to introduce him to lots of new stuff- and also you may want to "inadvertently starve" him into being hungry enough to try someting new. Not talking about actual starving, mind you.
                                                            BTW- when we were growing up, she used more of a Nazi tactic, as in "You can't Leave the table until you finish your_______ whatever. That's no way to make a gstronome/foodie/chowhound out of a person, I MUST SAY.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: EWSflash

                                                              No, no, no!!! We, grandmoms, do not use Natzi methods:)

                                                            2. I'm a grammy to a 5 year old. Sometimes you get desperate. Eggs (scrambled, let him stir), pancakes (more stirring), plain pasta (wheels, bow ties, elbows) with just butter, cereal, oatmeal (my granddaughter will eat oatmeal 3 times a day, hey its food), chicken noodle soup (Campbell's has character soups, Cars, etc. - again, it's food), peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, bannanas, I know it's bad, but Lunchables, the ones where they make their own pizza, hot dogs, hamburgers. Corn on the cob. If he can help, I'll bet he'll at least try it. Weird: If you tell my Sara not to eat Grampa's whatever vegetable (peas, green beans, carrots), she'll eat her whole serving and come back for more, because she's "stealing" from Grampa (my husband) who pretends to put up a big fuss about thieves, etc. So we're contributing to her future delinquency, she eats for us right? LOL

                                                              3 Replies
                                                              1. re: joan828

                                                                if the "buildable" Lunchable concept appeals, make your own form of Lunchables with preferred ingredients... premake some nice cornmeal crusts, some sauce, some nice cheeses etc. or crackers, cheese, meat, etc.

                                                                1. re: Emme

                                                                  We do that too.Just this morning we got some sliced turkey and ham from the deli, and we also bought lettuce, cukes, scallions, cherry tomatoes etc. for her to make her own salads. If we don't watch her, Sara will eat the whole tub of tomatoes in one sitting, like my father used to. She likes to make her own english muffin pizzas (we don't have a toaster oven, so we just put them in the regular toaster and she puts her own sauce, cheese and pepperoni on it). Our granddaughter lives with us so we have more time with her, I suggested the Lunchables because I wasn't sure of the OP's situation. We have a Cuisinart Griddler which we love and Sara loves it to build her own sandwiches so we can cook it for her (it gets way too hot to let us even attempt to let her help).

                                                                  1. re: joan828

                                                                    and i wasn't judging your (occasional) use of Lunchables... i also wasn't sure what the OP's situation was either... whether processed stuff is unpreferred...

                                                              2. You've already gotten this advice a bunch of times, but I have to say it one more time. 1)get him involved 2)relax.

                                                                I've watched many kids whose parents are completely stressed out about food. Their body language conveys that during mealtimes. A kid responds to his parents' emotional state, and his body diverts blood flow from his stomach and intestines and makes him not hungry. Combined with the fact that living things are primed to be afraid of unfamiliar foods, and that parents do most of the cooking, you've got a kid whose animal instincts are making it very difficult for him to eat. Take him to the farmer's market, tell him what things are, let him touch and smell, and ask him if there's anything he'd like to buy. Let him help in the kitchen. Take a deep breath during meals and don't worry about how much he eats. If he says it's yucky, chuckle and say "oh, is that yucky?" and go on with your meal. People like to argue with the kid about whether the food tastes good. It's approximately 3000% more effective to eat it and enjoy it yourself. The more you argue, the more he digs his heels in. I think snacks are fine, just as long as they're healthy. At first, it may be easier for him to eat at snacktimes because there isn't so much conditioned negative association. It may not happen right away, but after a few meals of realizing you're not going to shove anything down his throat, he will relax and eat at the table.

                                                                Good luck! Can't wait to hear how it goes.

                                                                1. My brother and I spent a few weeks with our grandparents whom we hardly knew and perceived as ancient, strict and intimidating. For a treat they fed us boiled beef tongue. It came to the table in its entire glory and Grandfather carved it with glee. We almost cried and ate a as little a possible but were far too scared to say anything. I was probably about 6. I have vague memories of picking berries with Grandfather that trip but any other pleasant memories are totally drowned out by the image of that great rolling tongue on the cutting board and the sight of the little taste bumps on it.

                                                                  They meant well and years later I became very fond of Grandfather, but unfortunately those are my last memories of Grandmother.

                                                                  I have no doubt you will better!!

                                                                  1. I think trail-mix, cereal, PB&J sandwiches, chicken, fish, ground turkey tacos, ants on a log (celery, pb and raisins), make your own pizza sounds great, my grandpa use to make us chili and we all ate it, hot dogs, watermelon, homemade sweet potato "fries", eggs and meat with 1 piece of toast, milk is a great snack, make oatmeal cookies together, you can hide a lot of veggies in sloppy joes or any marinara really... good luck!

                                                                    1. Don't make this a worry now or a battle later. Some kids really don't like food. If you don't get him to eat well, you haven't failed. Just offer healthy things, served attractively and cut into cute portions, for him to try. He will not starve to death in your care and your success as a grandparent doesn't depend on whether he eats.

                                                                      1. About once a month, we will have a 'pyjama party' in our house. We'll bring our beds into the living room, pick a good movie, and gorge on a variety of appetizers. My boys look forward to this time immensely (as do I). We spend the afternoon in the kitchen, assembling the dishes on our menu. We usually will have the menu chosen by a region or country. Perhaps tapas, or a mezze platter, antojitos, etc. It's a wonderful way for my children to learn about other cultures and cuisines, while getting them involved in what they eat. I find they are so eager to eat what they helped create, and they are so proud of their food that it's gobbled up without hesitation.
                                                                        Because I am so enthusiastic and full of wonder at the delights on my plate, it rubs off on my children.
                                                                        Good luck! I hope you enjoy your visit!

                                                                        1. More ideas/thoughts for you...

                                                                          Tortilla chips are really easy to make, and fun for kids: brush corn or flour tortialls with a little oil, or spray them with cooking spray. Sprinkle on a little salt (and for you, a little ground cumin, ground coriander, chili powder, and pepper). Use a pizza wheel/cutter to slice the seasoned tortillas into pieces (we aim for wedges), transfer to a baking sheet and bake at 300 F for about 20 minutes, or until crispy. My five-year-old loves to make these.

                                                                          Other kitchen tasks he enjoys: peeling carrots, shelling peas (great excitement and mirth when a peas escapes and pops across the kitchen), stemming and slicing mushrooms (with a plastic knife), cutting up vegetables (again, with a plastic knife; sometimes i'll make a slice along one side to give him a flat surface to work on, if it's a potato etc). Shucking corn. Stirring anything at all. Pushing the ON button on the food processor and blender - while you hang on to the appliance with both hands, and unplug immediately when the mixing is finished :-) Using the rotary cheese grater.

                                                                          Sometimes I just give him a little bit of what i'm using and let him play while I cook - flour or oatmeal with a few bowls and spoons; corn cut off the cob; grated zucchini. He'll usually take a nibble or two to taste whatever it is while he plays (even the flour, yuk!). We also play a game called Big Mess: I give him a bowl, a scoop of cornmeal, a glass of selter water, and a tray with a rim. He makes a big mess out of everything (the selter really fizzes when you mix it with the cornmeal.... not really cooking, I know, but he likes to pretend that he's making something).

                                                                          P.S. ALong the planning and shopping lines: there's a kid's cookbook called Pretend Soup that's pretty nice, the recipes are giving in words and in pictures for kids to follow along. You could look at the book with your grandson, have him choose a recipe, and then do the shopping and cooking together.