Casserole Wars

No, I am not using this post’s title to refer to a new show on Food Network.

Instead, I am referring to a quiet little war that brews in our house.

It’s a battle between me and my five-year-old.

Here’s the breakdown:

I like making the occasional casserole. I like casseroles because they typically require few pots, pans, and baking dishes (i.e., less clean-up for the win). I like them because they make it easy to sneak veggies onto my kids’ plates. I like them because, while there is great variety in the world of casseroles, they rarely require fancy cooking techniques, and they fit into busy mom-life pretty nicely. Easy to make ahead, easy to store as leftovers. Basically, the benefit list is long.

L., my five-year-old, adamantly dislikes casseroles. I can’t seem to get a straight answer out of him as to exactly why he doesn’t like casseroles. I know it’s not the veggies — he’ll often happily eat whatever veggies I serve. And I don’t think it’s related to the flavors — I try to keep things tasty without being “too adventurous.”

To be honest, I think it has something to do with the fact that in a casserole, all the food is combined into one dish.

L. prefers to have the different parts of his meal — the meat, the veggies, the additional starch or other items — to be conspiciously separated upon his plate. No touching allowed!

And in a casserole…it’s all touching. It’s all intermingled. Quite simply, it’s impossible to separate.

As a result, L. is not pleased.

We’ve fallen into a routine wherein I make a casserole every couple weeks — after days and days of doing the whole “food conspicously separated upon the plate” type of meals. The thing is, 3/4ths of the people who live here actually like the casseroles I make, so I’m not prepared to just give them up because of a certain kid’s food preferences. And yet, despite the fact that we only put very small amounts of the food/casserole on L.’s plate, and despite the fact that the casseroles are so rare, and despite the fact that I truly try to make the meals kid-friendly…L. is still not pleased.

He knows better than to complain loudly about food Mom prepares. But if you could see the look on his face — the look of sadness and distaste and do-I-really-have-to-eat-this-horribly-combined-food — you would see that my attempts at converting him to a casserole-lover are failing.

L.’s preschool teacher has been wonderful about encouraging the kids to try new foods, or even old foods that they think they don’t like. She tells them that tastes change as kids grow, and even if they don’t like something the first time…or the second…or even the third…well, who knows? Maybe they’ll love it the 15th time they try it!

Now, if we tried to explain this same principle to L., he wouldn’t believe us. But he does seem to believe his teacher.

In fact, just last week, L. gave Tomato Soup another try (soup is another “not-so-great” food in L.’s book). After finishing an entire [tiny] bowl of soup, he admitted that this time was definitely better than the last time he tried tomato soup (“Last time I felt like throwing up after I ate it; this time I didn’t.”) See? Improvement.

So I guess I’ll just keep making the occasional casserole, despite any looks of horror they might inspire, and hope that next time…or the time after that…or maybe in the year 2019, L. will finally look at me and say, “You know what? That casserole wasn’t so bad.”


  1. Yep. We have the food-touch-a-phobia in our house as well, only it is big Steve. Took me forever to get him to eat soup…for obvious reasons. He WOULD eat tomato soup, because it was consistent throughout. Salad, however, is perfectly fine, he has never had a problem with that. Go figure…. I don’t buy that on the 15th time they’ll like it. We have broccoli almost every night because Stephen and Kate simply love it. I’d say a good 300 out of the last 365 nights, we’ve had it. Will still can’t eat it without gagging.

  2. He gets it from our side of the family… To this day I still am a strong advocate that all plates should have those nifty separations so common in paper cook-out plates. I’d love to find some fine china with those.
    A good example is peas and carrots. I love peas, I like carrots. Cook them together, or even mix them on the plate, and it turns my stomach. Food are not meant to mix. :)

  3. Wow…L. sounds so much like his uncle in this post. Yesterday I made mac and cheese in the crockpot. Upon tasting, L’s Uncle B IMMEDIATELY looked up and asked me how much onion I had included in the recipe. To my defense – the recipe called for over 2 tablespoons of onion and I included a VERY finely chopped 1/2 tablespoon. Can’t say I didn’t try . . .

  4. Yup, we have the same problem with casseroles here! No intermingling of the food items, please and thank you!

  5. It’s the name – casserole. Yuk. Maybe call it Pot Pie Surprise. Oughta do it.

  6. I was just complaining about this very thing this weekend! I LOVE casseroles but I’m the only one. Matt will tolerate them but not too many days of the week. He never complains mind you but won’t eat any of the left overs either. Love your writing.

  7. I love your casseroles! All the good dinner stuff blended together deliciously!
    And yes, I will eat all the leftovers.

  8. LOL Sammy is so with L.. he is not a food touching person.. and I wasn’t for many many years! Hopefully he will grow to like casseroles!

  9. L sounds like me, as a kid. No food touching allowed!! We all have our little idiosyncrasies. That’s what makes us special and unique. He’ll probably outgrow it. Me? I’ve outgrown that one and have moved on to other idiosyncrasies. I’m special that way. :)

  10. No one in my family is a big casserole fan, but me — not just because it’s sort of easy, but because I like them. Because I’m the one planning the meals and cooking them, I make them when I feel like it, but they don’t go over well.

    Have you ever tried stir-fries? For whatever reason, those go over fine. In fact, most people love them. Improvised pasta tosses work well too. Just writing that is sort of comforting me. Apparently it’s the baking and melding together in that way that makes them spell disaster for my people.
    Jennifer, Snapshot´s last post ..What’s on My Nightstand – February 2012My Profile

  11. Make one for his class and have his teacher serve it. :)

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