The following was excerpted from Modern Mom Probs: A Survival Guide for 21st Century Mothers, out on April 20th from Post Hill Press.

I'm going to level with you: at some point, you just have to get some calories in that little body of theirs so the next pediatrician visit doesn't end with them calling protective services.

Here are some of the "meals" I have fed or am currently feeding my boy in order for him to survive and thrive. It's the culinary version of "Never Did I Ever."


1. A plate of shredded cheese.

Dairy is good, right? The major risk with this meal is the little shreds of cheese get everywhere, but it's a crowd pleaser and calorie-dense. Maybe you can work up to mac and cheese, little guy? Sheesh!

2. Butter with some pasta sprinkled on top.

What surprises me is that we eat this meal three times a week, every week. What doesn't surprise me is that we usually get distracted, eat four noodles, let the rest get cold, and then say it tastes gross now because it's cold. Try to make sure you have a fifty/fifty ratio of butter to pasta in order for this meal to be acceptable. Also, since you're always going to make too much pasta, save some for when the first batch gets too cold, eat that bowl yourself, and replace with the fresher stuff.

3. Anything from an arcade or amusement park.

I'm not proud of this, but all the loud noises and bright lights confuse the children into eating the microwaved pizza slices made by an animatronic mouse.

4. Pretzels.

Are pretzels dinner? I want to say "no," but hear me out on this one. You can dip them in a nut butter, and your kid will eat them until her tummy is full. Also, sometimes it's like, forget it. Ya know? So yeah, pretzels can be dinner if you try hard enough and throw some carrots and almonds in there too. Ride that crunchy wave.

A few serious words. Try your kids' food yourself. They have taste buds, too! My husband and I fed our son some new chickpea-based mac and cheese one time, and he would not eat it. We tried and tried to coax him and he was emphatic. So we tried it... totally inedible trash. They can't all be winners, so give your kids a little more credit.

If you are genuinely concerned your child is not eating healthily enough, always talk to your pediatrician. I guarantee you that nine out of ten times you will feel better when they admit kids are weirdos, and they just eat like weirdos.