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Every family has a picky eater, no matter how hard you try to avoid it. I was the picky eater in my family, and I developed several tricks for making my plate look like it had less food. Then I grew up, discovered the salad bar at college, and never looked back.

I managed to produce my own picky eater but I wasn’t concerned. I knew he’d grow out of it just as I did. In the meantime I gave him a multivitamin and moved on. But I know a lot of moms worry about picky eaters, or get frustrated with them. I understand that-I really do. I also know that we all get frustrated when our kids complain about the meals we serve. The meat tastes yucky, the mashed potatoes are touching the carrots, no one is feeling the meatloaf tonight. I cannot take credit for this amazing trick to solve this age old issue-I must defer to my friend Kristi.

Kristi invented The Manna Principle and personally I think it’s genius! I will share it in Kristi’s own words:

I got tired of my kids complaining about our meals every night-they were never satisfied! I tried the Kids are starving in China so eat your food trick. I threatened to send them to bed hungry. Nothing worked. By God’s divine help I created The Manna Principle.

God fed the Israelites in the wilderness with manna and it kept them alive and well. They got tired of it, but it had enough nutrients to make them full and healthy. I realized that if that’s what God specified in the food He gave the Israelites, then those same requirements were enough for my family. I was going to stop trying to cater to my children’s every culinary desire. I was also going to teach them a lesson in gratitude.

I cooked meatloaf for dinner the next night-simple and easy. It was also not my son Brad’s favorite and he let me know. “Meatloaf? Mom, you know I don’t like meatloaf! Why do you have to keep making it?” I got up from the table, grabbed Brad’s plate, and went to the kitchen. I microwaved a bowl of oatmeal and poured a glass of milk. I came back to the table and put the oatmeal in front of Brad. I took his glass of Coca Cola and replaced it with the milk. He stared at me in disbelief.

“What is this?” He cried. I was calm-so incredibly calm. “You do not appreciate the meals I prepare for you every day Brad. So you will receive a bowl of oatmeal and a glass of milk at every meal until your heart becomes grateful and you can appreciate the work I put into these meals.” I sat back down at the table as my family looked at me like I’d lost my mind.

No one knew what to say. Brad looked at my husband who looked at me. My girls just looked down at their plates-they were too stunned to speak. Meanwhile I just kept eating. Finally my husband said, “Brad, you heard your mother. Everyone, let’s finish this fine dinner your mother made for us.” I think he was half afraid I might replace his meatloaf with oatmeal too.

My son is stubborn so it took three dinners, three breakfasts, and three lunches of oatmeal and milk before he finally said to me “Mom, I appreciate the meals that you make for me and I love you for taking the time to do it.” For dinner that fourth night Brad received the same meal as the rest of us. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more joyful appetite!

Now if any child starts to complain or criticize my cooking, I just say the word “oatmeal”, and the whining magically stops. Even my husband is more appreciative of my meals, I think because he didn’t realize how upset I had become over the ungratefulness from the children.

Thanks so much Kristi! I spread Kristi’s Manna Principle wherever I go-I think it’s such a wonderful illustration of Biblical teaching applied to everyday life. She is my hero and I’m so glad she shared this with me.

I find a lesson to be learned in all my past deeds. In this case I wish I had learned of The Manna Principle sooner because it made dinner time much less stressful for me.

Please comment and let me know your thoughts on this post. Let me know if you use The Manna Principle and what results you had.