The Early Bird Special - Early Dinners for My Girls

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As I've mention many times before, Big Sis has always given us a run for our money when it comes to eating. She's never been much of an eater so it's been quite a battle/chore/effort to get her to eat healthy. She just doesn't seem to enjoy food like the rest of us (her dad, Little Sis and myself) do. But as she's gotten older, things have gotten better. Plus, we found a routine that worked well for us and even posted them on our fridge as a friendly reminder. We first started w/ the bedtime routine then shortly thereafter added the after school routine to help facilitate life after school which starts at an unfortunately late 4:30pm when they get off the bus.

Things were running great for a while UNTIL... after just a couple months into 3rd grade, Big Sis' snack time changed from afternoon until morning, without her lunchtime actually changing (12:21pm) because it just fit better into their daily schedule. :( So, what was once a well-oiled machine now had a wrench thrown it in and brought this household to a screeching halt. Ok, I may be exaggerate a little, but it did cause much unwelcomed trouble and frustrations. Big Sis was now coming off the bus absolutely starving, causing her to snack like a voracious wild animal that hadn't eaten in days. The 1 healthy snack + 1 crunchy snack rule wasn't cuttin' it for her anymore and she would just want to eat more and more and would just get downright ornery if I cut her off. I can completely understand this behavior, though, as I'm exactly the same way. :) And then come dinner time, guess what? *someone* wasn't hungry and it would be like pulling teeth to get her to eat those veggies and meal. Grrr! Made for some VERY frustrating times.

My solution to this dilemma was to rearrange the schedule and have dinner ready to go for the girls when they get home from school. Yeah, that means the girls now eat dinner at 4:40pm!!! They're like two cute little old biddies catching the early bird special, haha, but hey, it's been working like a charm, so I'm stickin' with it! :) And Big Sis actually EATS! Like finishes her entire dinner, veggies included! Plus, it actually leaves them with more time for homework, play and watch TV. Cool beans! And no matter what, Big Sis is gonna want a snack before bedtime, so now that leaves us a little more room between "Last Call for Snacks" and bedtime, so it's definitely a win-win in my opinion.

This means that they don't wait to have dinner with Daddy on weekdays anymore, but those dinners got to be so frustrating at times that this was a sacrifice we were willing to make. I do also  have to bide my time a little better now and get goin' on dinner BEFORE they come home, but that's fine too since I can prep their meals distraction-free! :) So now i just set an alarm for 3:45 to get myself goin'. Plus it fits in perfectly with our two nights of 5:30 soccer practices during the week. There are, of course, times when things don't go as planned or we veer from "The Schedules" but all in all, it's a winner winner chicken dinner!

So this is what they got right off the bus today. In fact, their neighbor buddies asked if they could play and Big Sis told 'em she could right after her dinner and went right in to eat. :)

In this dinner:

1. Chicken and cheese quesadillas on whole wheat tortillas
2. Delmonte canned carrots
3. Trader Joe's Frozen Sweet Baby Peas - boiled in a little bit of water and seasoned with a dash of salt and a pat of butter
4. Tostito's Simply Natural Blue Corn Chips
5. Mandarine orange (Cuties)

And here are some other meals they've had in the past:

The reason I know this method is a success is that they easily become members of the clean plate club nearly EVERY night (w/ little to mostly NO fussing about finishing veggies and such!)

In this dinner:
1. Leftover Nana's Melt-In-Your-Mouth Baby Back Ribs, pulled apart
2. Delmonte Canned Carrots
3. Holly Hobbie Cornbread
4. Grits and bacon (without the shrimp)
5. Trader Joe's Frozen Sweet Baby Peas

In this dinner:
1. Applegate Farms Frozen Chicken Nuggets
2. Cooked carrots, cut into circles
3. Trader Joe's Frozen Sweet Baby Peas
4. Easy Egg Drop Soup

In this dinner:
1. Steamed asparagus rolled in Applegate Ham
2. Cooked carrots, cut in circles
3. Bowtie Pasta with Parmesan Cheese

In this dinner:
1. Cooked carrots, diced
2. Steamed broccoli
3. Bowtie Pasta
4. Rosemary Cheese Puffs

In this dinner:
1. Barilla Whole Wheat Spaghetti tossed with olive oil, touch of butter and parmesan cheese
2. Grilled asparagus with oil oil and garlic
3. Delmonte Canned Carrots
4. Homemade Breaded Chicken

And here's a copy of our new schedule I finally got around to updating, signed, sealed and hung on the fridge. It's printed out as a reminder for all of us, but especially for Big Sis who is a sea lawyer in the making and will debate and negotiate until we're ready to scream "UNCLE"! This way, it is there in writing, plain as day and it works suprisingly well! She even asked for her own copy. Sometimes she even finds a way to use it against me! Haha! 

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There's a reason that so many books and articles I've read on children say that routine is so important for children - because it's TRUE! :)

Thanks so much for stopping by and please feel free to make my day by leaving me a comment, joining my blog in the top right corner or liking my on Facebook at MyEpicureanAdventures - the more the merrier! :)

Christine, aka happyvballgirl :)
Here are some items used in this post. To see a full list of my favorite bento gear and such, just visit my "Products I Love" page! :) Any purchases made through these links earns me a little extra cash to support my bento habit, which my hubby would really appreciate. haha! So thank you!!! if you choose to use any of 'em! :)

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Erin Walker said...

I love how you changed up dinner time...I may have to consider that. One kid comes home at 2:45 and the other at 4:30 and they're both starving by 5. Never occurred to me to just make dinner for them at 5. Hmmmm....than,s!

happyvballgirl said...

Awww, thanks Erin! I tell ya, it has made a WORLD of difference in this household! Hope it helps in yours! :)

Alison P. said...

My husband and I had that discussion about how the kids used to eat before the parents and my husband and I always thought it was something so that the adults didn't have to eat with the kids but it totally makes sense. My son is ready for dinner at about 4:30 (I might be too)!!! Of course, someone has to wait for daddy to get home :)

happyvballgirl said...

Haha, Alison!! Yeah, we tried and tried so many times waiting to have dinner with Daddy but it just usually didn't turn out well... SO much frustration all around so finally we just tried this were thankful to find some kind of relief from our dinner time woes. WHEW! :)

Lisa Lynn said...

We've had to do this at times too. Although my son is 17 now, so he eats all day long. :)
Thanks for sharing this on The Creative HomeAcre Hop!
Hope to see you again today. :)

Diana - FreeStyleMama said...

We eat around 5 or 5:30!

happyvballgirl said...

Early birds just like us! :)

happyvballgirl said...

haha!! Thanks Lisa Lynn! :)