Catherine and Victoria: Pizza Rules!

The Rodriguez and Rudd Family of Miami, Florida

Victoria and Catherine

Victoria and Catherine decorate
a cake with strawberries...

What kid (or adult) doesn't love pizza? If most kids had their way, they'd be eating it at every meal. But while the parents of Catherine (3 years) and Victoria (7 years) indulge in a weekly pizza, they also emphasize meals that include foods of their Cuban family heritage.


Victoria's Meal Management

Both Leslie Rudd, dad, and Rosa Rodriguez, mom, are full-time working professionals in Miami, so they spend as much time with the kids at meals and in meal preparation as they can. For them, food is more than just the meal itself—it also keeps them in touch with their family and their roots, so a typical dinner may include black beans and rice, or roast pork, or other Cuban dish. Or, it may be as American as apple pie, so to speak.

Rosa and Leslie share with parents
Rosa and Leslie.

What is a typical week of dinners like in this Cuban-American household? It has all the same elements of any busy family's mealtimes—a few convenience products, eating out, and quick, simple meals.

"The menu varies," explains Rosa, a lawyer. "We seem to eat a lot of black beans and rice (both girls love them), which are very traditional Cuban foods that my husband and I were raised on. Lately 7-year-old Victoria has been making a schedule of our menus. She scheduled last week's meals for us like this:

  • Monday: Pizza (we usually have pizza at least once a week, take-out or delivered)
  • Tuesday: Spaghetti (I usually use bottled spaghetti sauce, but I add sautéed onions, mushrooms, and garlic)
  • Wednesday: Chicken (I try to prepare it in different ways)
  • Thursday: Pork chops Cuban-style, accompanied by black beans and rice (I marinate the pork chops in sour orange juice, a lot of garlic, salt, and pepper)
  • Friday: We ate out at a simple family-style restaurant (one that has placemats the kids can color, to keep them entertained). The girls have been going to restaurants since they were very young, and are consequently very well behaved. So dining out together is fun for all of us."

Rosa's Tips for Shopping with Kids


Catherine holds a drink
(about as big as she is!),
as she picks out the
absolute best banana.

I asked Rosa if she ever takes the girls to the supermarket. "I do take them grocery shopping with me," says Rosa enthusiastically. "Victoria says she loves everything about cooking and grocery shopping." Rosa says her strategy for good behavior includes these tips:

  • "As we drive to the grocery store I quickly go over certain rules, such as telling them they can't get all the junk food they want, no running around, and so on.
  • "I let them pick out two special items. They usually pick out cookies and ice cream (I probably would have bought these items anyway, but I don't let them know that). This avoids temper tantrums and saves money.
  • "While at the grocery store, they help by reminding me to buy certain things, like 'Remember, we ran out of ketchup.' I encourage their help and thank them. They love grocery shopping and consider it a special treat.

"Also, if I know that my kids don't like something, I try to avoid those foods. I try to expose them to all types of foods. When I was growing up, my mother fed us everything, so overall my siblings and I are not picky eaters and willing to try anything. Leslie is also not a picky eater, though his own siblings are."

Got your own battle with a picky eater? You're not alone. But parents and experts come to the rescue and share proven - and sometimes very creative—ways to feed finicky eaters successfully in "Chapter 4: Making Meals Delicious and Nutritious." You'll also find a full month of quick-to-fix menus using recipes from the book, and tips on making good tasting, healthy meals easily in "Chapter 5: Meal Planning," in Cooking with Kids.


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Copyright © 1999, Kate Heyhoe. All rights reserved.

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The Evers Family of Portland, Oregon

Michael, Sarah, Thomas, and Rachel: More Than a Mouthful
The Stouffer Family of Rochester, Michigan

Catherine and Victoria: Pizza Rules!
The Rodriguez and Rudd Family of Miami, Florida

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Table of Contents

Part I: Cooking Together:
The Wisdom of 400 Families

Part II: Putting the Meal Together—Together!

Part III: Cooking 101:
A Handbook for Parents
& Young Chefs

Part IV: Recipes

Part V: Tips In Tens