Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Fresh, Frozen, or Canned

I'm so very thankful that our children aren't picky. There's very little that they express a dislike for, and we eat a significant variety of fruits, vegetables, meats, and grains. I've often been asked what I did to make my children be such good eaters, but very few people like my answer. For starters, when beginning my children on solid foods, I offered them vegetables instead of fruits. Everyone likes sweet things, but vegetables are an acquired taste. It was several months before they ever tasted anything sweet. When they were given juices as toddlers, they were diluted with more than 50% water. Juice is full of sugar and calories. And finally, they had to eat what I prepared. One spoonful of a vegetable never killed anyone. Because we eat such a wide variety of things, my children got used to all sorts of different textures and flavors. That's it! I'm happy to report that most days, my children are deliberating over who gets to finish the vegetables at dinner. My children are allowed to snack whenever they please, but it's always fresh fruits, carrots, peanut butter on a banana, or cheeses and nuts. I don't feel guilty about serving desserts because I know they have had plenty of "good for you" foods throughout the day.

To be sure, my children are normal and each have quirks of their own. Mac doesn't love baked potatoes or green beans. But he eats them. Autumn doesn't like ham or turkey, but she not only ate it at home, she continues to cook it now that she's married. Collin doesn't like dressings or dips of any kind. Guess what? He's the lucky one, because I always figured things were healthier without them so I actually let him skip! Abigail doesn't like mushrooms, but has learned not to complain about them. You know, for years I didn't like them either, but because I love my husband and he loves mushrooms, I would prepare a select few dishes with them every so often. I don't mind them at all now! Taste buds change, and I believe that if we try things often enough, we will acquire a taste for them.

In our family, we eat seasonally. Lighter, easily made meals in the summer, full of fresh produce and grilled meats. We eat loads of salads that are cool and refreshing, and an abundance of grapes, melons and berries.

In the fall, we still eat as many fresh vegetables as we can as evidenced by the above picture. I start supplementing some frozen and canned vegetables as well. I make stews and soups and our fruit choices turn to bananas, apples, and pears. I bake a little more than I do in the summer, and even make homemade puddings.

The winter brings less fresh vegetables, though I do still get what I can. Warm breakfasts of baked oatmeal prepared with frozen blueberries, and dinners of roasts, and gravies seem to hit the spot when it's cold outside. Baking in the oven or the crockpot helps the house feel warm and cozy. We tend to favor oranges, grapefruits, and pomegranates when the snow is flying.

So, I'm curious. Do you buy fresh, frozen, or canned? Do you cook the same year-round, or do your menus change?


Kristen said...

I agree with you whole-heartedly about the order in which you give babies food. If they have never tasted sweets then they will like the veggies. And you should only introduce only one veggie a week to make sure there isn't an allergic reaction.
I don't have a garden, but my mother-in-law does (a huge one), so we benefit from her labor. We all help in the summer harvest. My kids have never been able to stand store canned corn or green beans.
I also cook differently in cooler temps. Just last night I made a huge pot of homemade stew and cornbread. Yummy, my dh took the left-overs for lunch today and said it was even better the second time around.

Kelli said...

Great post, Tracy! Yes, our menus change just like yours. I rarely buy frozen vegetables....just for soups/stews. We like canned corn, otherwise everything is fresh.

Danielle said...

I cook the same way Tracy! The menu changes through the seasons and the family eats what is served. Just like your family we each have things we don't care for but have learned to eat them:-)

Fresh when we can get it...I prefer frozen over canned for everything but corn...I love canned corn!

Rachel said...

Mine will generally eat what we put in front of them, too.

We eat what we have. If it is fresh out of the garden, we use that. If it is fall or winter, it is either frozen or canned (I have more room in the freezers for meat than for veggies). I'd like to have more freezer space given for the veggies and such. But we put three pigs in there in April, and I have to freeze my flours and pastas and such,

But I will say that I prefer fresh over frozen, frozen over canned, and yet, there are some veggies I will only eat to be polite (and then only in teeny tiny amounts--okra....ugh....).

But I am with you trying to make sure to break them in with the veggies first, then the sweets...

Joie said...

Usually farmers market. Never canned -- at least not of the grocery store variety -- I would buy something that had been canned at home earlier in the summer. I will eat frozen peas and sometimes use frozen berries. I can't go without fresh fruit in the winter so hope that my local eating in the spring, summer, and fall help offset the oranges I want in the winter.

Wendy said...

This is all great advice, Tracy. Although, despite my best efforts, my youngest is an extremely picky eater. :( I buy fresh vegetables whenever possible, but frozen is a good alternative for us. The only canned vegetable I'll buy is corn, as I don't care for the texture of frozen.

My cooking is definitely seasonal too -- lots of grilling, main-dish salads and sandwiches in summer, and I just love fall and winter when I can start making heartier fare like homemade rolls and soups and stews, especially in the crock pot.

Mrs.Rabe said...

I use fresh or frozen! I like to cook seasonally as well - lots of grilling in the summer, soups and stews and baked things in the fall/winter!

This was a neat post Tracy.

in company with sparkles said...

I loved this post!
Our family jokes that I am 'morally against' frozen mixed vegetables. My mom loves to make them though. If we drained and buttered them then perhaps they'd be edible ;) Needless to say, I love fresh, seasonal, and organic produce and local buying/growing/cooking. That's hard to do overseas though. When the Lord blesses me with children someday, I will definitely feed them vegetables first. One mother I admire gives her babies whatever the adults have eaten - after it goes through the food processor! It looks gross but her kids eat anything now and she doesn't have to 'cook down' for their tastes.
Thank you!


Sylvia said...


Great post. I am from another culture, so my children learned from a young age to eat all my native foods which are spicy and hot. I am christian, but in my culture pork and beef are not common place among christians. The meat we eat includes a lot of chicken and goat. And we eat fish and shrimp regularly. My husband and I have learned to eat beef in moderation, so have our children, I even make beef burgers spiced up with my culture spices, thanksgiving turkey again with my spices, but you will have to force me eat pork :). And anyway, I make a mean burger with chicken and turkey meat.
I have learned to make chicken tenders, home made pizza and other American foods which my children crave and I love making soups. Crockpot cooking is something that has eluded me. We make a lot of sauces to eat with rice, but all of them we cook on the stove top.
Of course, vegetables are our main stay. My food of my native country is one which many vegetarians love. We always buy fresh, never canned and use frozen only if I froze it..

God bless you,

Kelly said...

I have one of those great eaters as well. He dislikes bananas and peanut butter and jelly. Those aren't heavily used by me so it works out well. I was pretty laid back about what he ate but we walked into it feeding him adult food from the beginning. I didn't feed him solids until he was 9-10 months old and had tons of teeth so we skipped the "mush" stage and he ate off my plate at restaurants/friends homes/etc. We also got him excited about foods we LOVE! We are big sushi eaters and since some fish should be off limits until 3 or 4 we really talked sushi up to him and celebrated his 3rd birthday by having a sushi dinner. The benefit to having a good eater who loves to try new foods has made travel easy for us. We spent two weeks in China in July and he ate everything and loved it.

Our meals get a lot heavier during the winter and we use our NG grill almost every day in the spring and summer. I make bento boxes for my son to take to school every day so the focus of our evening meals is often something I can use or modify for bento use. I also do a lot of freezer stash prep for bentos. I feel good knowing almost every day my son has a lunch of healthy homemade food with homemade bread and artisan local cheeses, fresh fruit and veggies and it gets eaten.

I love food and preparing it and I am very happy that my picky husband has gotten good about expanding his tastes and we have a child who really enjoys food and food prep as well. It makes cooking fun and enjoyable!

Anonymous said...

This was a *great* post Tracy! (o:

Terri said...

I cook exactly the same way, Tracy and I pretty much followed the same pattern with my children. The major difference is because my children grew up in an inner city setting with lots of different ethnic groups, they developed a taste for different countries' flavors as well.

My daughter does have severe, life-threatening food allergies so I am limited somewhat in the things she can eat but all of my children have been taught to eat what is before them and they like all kinds of foods, including veggies.

Abounding Treasures said...

I use only frozen corn and sweet, tiny peas, otherwise I try to get everything fresh.

I cook lighter meals in the warm weather and we do a lot of BBQing.

It's soups, stews, oven meals and more baking in the colder months and as you say, it warms up the kitchen as well as our tummies :o)

Tracy said...

I did the same with my babies when starting them on food. Except that I start with vegies and alternated that with fruit...then back to vegies. I also made my own baby food and fork mashed it rather than pureeing their food. My kids are GREAT eaters and heartily enjoy most of what I serve apart from the odd quirk.

I cook very seasonally. In summer it's just too hot to cook inside much so we have a lot of bbq'd meat and salads with fresh ingredients. In the winter we eat cooked vegies 99.9% of the time and again, I use fresh vegies. I think this year I've bought one or two bags of frozen vegies. I buy some canned things: corn, diced tomatoes, pie apples, chickpeas. Not much else though.