On the Green Money Stream, we’re into cooking meals at home. This has really always been the case for us and we never consider it a sacrifice. We know that we just eat a hell of a lot healthier by preparing real food at home. So it would be a priority even if it didn’t save a ton of money as compared to eating out.
I try to prepare as much “real food” as possible, especially for my son. For this reason, I do not buy him the popular kid food items such as chicken nuggets, tater tots, hot dogs, “mac and cheese” (the stuff made with the neon orange powder), fish sticks, or anything containing the word “pouch” or “pocket” in its name.
For some reason, this becomes a topic of conversation with friends who also have young children. Some just find in near impossible to believe that my son would willingly eat real food without demanding processed chicken meat formed into the shape of a dinosaur. In fact, on a recent evening a good friend of ours who has a kid our son’s age (we’ll call his kid Johnnie) stopped by. My son saw him and asked where Johnnie was. This is the rest of the exchange:
Our Friend: Johnnie is home right now, probably having dinner.
My Son: What is Johnnie eating for dinner?
Our Friend: His favorite – fish sticks!
My Son: What are fish sticks?
At this point, of course, our friend breaks out laughing because my kid doesn’t know what fish sticks are. I stepped in and told my son it was just fish, like we had the night before. (In fact, the night before we had a delicious haddock with dill and lemon along with some green and yellow squash from our garden.)
Sometimes parents like the friend in this story say or imply that our son is deprived. I just laugh and don’t take it personally. I generally get the sense that they are really questioning their own parenting choices rather than mine. Of course, everyone makes the choices that are right for them. At the same time, I can feel a little touchy about even the implication that my son is deprived.
Honestly, we have never had to struggle with him about what he eats and I think there is a very simple reason for this. He doesn’t demand any of these processed food products because he doesn’t know what they are. I mean, seriously, when kids are young the parents pretty much have complete control over their little environments, don’t they? It’s not like they are going to hop in the car and drive off to McDonald’s for a Happy Meal. So why would you drive the car there for them? If you don’t want them eating dinosaur shaped chicken meat, then don’t buy it! My son loves to eat the great food that we prepare for him, he is happy to wear the clothes that I’ve purchased from consignment sales or Craigslist, and his favorite thing to do is ride the bike that we picked up when someone had it out on their curb for free. As he gets older it will be more of a challenge to do some of these things, since he’ll be more susceptible to the influence of his peers and others who don’t live on the Green Money Stream. But for now, he’s sailing right along with us. And deprivation doesn’t even enter his mind.
So what do you think? Is it really a challenge to get kids to eat real food or are we just telling ourselves that it is?