When my sons were in first grade, we attended a children’s Passover seder where the teacher encouraged the class to try new foods without making impolite sounds.
One of mine announced that there was a bug in his parsley. Later when the teacher asked who tasted something new, he said that he ate the bug.
I’m pretty sure he was kidding, but I knew then that he and the rest of my crew did not suffer from what plagues so many other families: picky eating. In our house, foods are allowed to touch each other and all of us are willing to eat things that are new, different, green or blue.
I think the willingness to eat comes from the dynamics of our house. If you have four children in three years, a survival of the fittest mentality will strike. From the very first days, any bottle became fair game for a sibling when put down for a second. Basically, he who hesitates will find his or her food eaten by a sibling.
Most days I am grateful for this. There is a huge relief in knowing that wherever you are, you need not worry about what people will eat. You only need to worry about how to pay for it. As anyone with teens knows, the whole feeding frenzy is both costly and time consuming. Just when you think you have purchased too much food, it’s gone and you need more.
There are whole categories of food that I stopped buying a long time ago because they didn’t seem to make it from the grocery bag to pantry or refrigerator before consumption. Certain junky snacks or juices came right off the list. I have to be able to store it for a day or so.
I’m always in search of something to feed teens and their friends that does not cost too much. Baked beans, chicken thighs anyone? Thirsty? We have ice water!
Recently, I hosted some guests. The picky eaters in the group wanted only pasta with butter and salt or white bread sandwiches with peanut butter and purple jelly. I started to rethink my pride in the diversity of the diet.
While I fork over hundreds of dollars each week for dozens of eggs, pounds of meat and fish, varieties of fruits and vegetables, snacks and the like, my guest just buys pasta. She doesn’t even need sauce. While I worry about all the things that can go on a sandwich day after day, my friend gets peanut butter and purple jelly.
Someone asked me how I was going to come up with college tuition. Immediately, I started calculating the reduction in the food bill. Clearly, this won’t cover tuition, but room and board? Maybe.