I love potatoes. As a child I ate potatoes as a side dish in most meals and no matter how they are prepared I include potatoes on my list of ‘comfort foods’.
As a parent with four picky eaters, potatoes were the one constant that I could be certain that everyone would eat. In fact, five pounds of potatoes was the absolute minimum I’d prepare for any meal and often it was more.
I’ve never served potatoes as the vegetable portion of a meal – nutritionally I’ve used it in place of pasta, rice or bread. When I first opened my childcare home I created a 4 week menu for lunches and snacks. On that menu I ensured that each weekly lunch menu contained;
- one rice dish
- one cold sandwich meal
- one pasta dish
- one potato dish
- one hot, bread based meal
This method offered the children a variety of meal types that would appeal to most of the children – you can never please them all with every meal. Yet, year after year, group after group, potatoes seemed to be the least favourite food. I was perplexed.
I tried serving them mashed, roasted or scalloped – all refused by the majority of the children. I added them to homemade soups and stews and watched as the children picked out their preferred items and left the potatoes behind. Even the Au Gratin Potatoes got dubbed ‘Rotten Potatoes’. Seriously, how can you go wrong with cheese & potatoes?
Over the years there were more children that would eat salad than there were those who would eat potatoes. Broccoli has been counted as a ‘treat’ by at least two preschoolers who also refused to eat potatoes in any form. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not complaining that they prefer their salad & veggies – I just can’t fathom why the versatile potato consistently gets refused.
I have considered that it could be a learned behaviour from an anti-carb culture but ALL these children will eat vast amounts of pasta and bread so that’s not it. According to their parents, a few of these potato haters will eat potatoes at home but the majority don’t.
I won’t force anyone to eat something they don’t like but I also want our menu to contain a variety of foods and I do think potatoes should be included. Currently, of our 20 lunches, only three have potatoes. Two of them are usually refused by all and need to be replaced because I dislike wasting food. The other one is french fries which are only sometimes eaten by half of the current group.
So, it has been a year since I last changed our menu and it is time for a revamp. I’m looking for new recipes and there will be some that have potatoes. They all look so good to me, I hope to find some that the children will enjoy too.