how to please all the eaters in your household

December 11, 2012

A question I frequently find myself answering is: “Do you and your husband eat the same types of food at home?”

Answer in a nutshell – absolutely not. We both have foods that we like and don’t like, and our palettes are not in sync at all. And you know what? That’s okay!

When we first got married, I tried a little too hard to push my eating habits onto John. No matter how many times he told me he didn’t like mushrooms, raw tomatoes, or tofu, I still tried. Aaaaand, it didn’t work. Unfortunately, this was not really the way I should have gone about it. My husband is NOT a toddler and can make his own food choices, no? Just like I’m not a fan of meat, he’s not a fan of tofu. No big deal.

Over the past two and a half years we’ve developed a system that works for us. While others might scoff at it, it makes our household run much smoother.

1. I cook meat – AND I’m okay with it. A lot of people think it’s weird I have no qualms about cooking meat for the Husband. In fact, I think it’s kind of normal of the situation I grew up in. My mom has been a vegetarian since I was younger (I think when I was 4 or 5?), and she always cooked meat dishes for the family. She felt that just because she didn’t want to eat meat didn’t mean that the rest of the family couldn’t. I feel the same exact way. I don’t feel bad cooking meat, and the main reason I don’t eat it is because I’m not a big fan of the texture. While others may disagree (and that’s okay), I’m not going to feel bad about cooking up a pot roast for the Husband because I know it will make him happy.

2. I often cook two meals at night. Again, this is just what I’m used to doing. Some of the times, our meals can mesh together. I often cook dishes where meat can be added to them if necessary. A stir fry is a great example of this. The rice and veggies and be cooked together, and then the meat can just be added in at the end. Sometimes the Husband wants brats or burgers for dinner and all I want is a salad and sweet potato fries. Do I shove vegetables down his throat? Sometimes. No.

3. Sometimes we’re all vegetarians for dinner. In the same way that I cook meat for the Husband, the husband also makes sacrifices for me. He often does not complain if he has to eat a vegetarian meal or two throughout the week. We often eat things like pastas, soups, or chilis which are an easy people pleaser in our neck of the woods.

4. The Husband buys his own snacks. Okay, the dude’s cereal preferences change at a moment’s notice. I rarely know what kind of snacks he’s into at the moment and I honestly do have a hard time spending money on the “junk” food. But, the poor man has not had homemade cookies for a long time because of my hectic schedule, so I don’t “ban” foods from the pantry. That would just be insane. Again, he’s a grown man – he can make his own choices. This month we’ve tried to cut my grocery budget by $50 so he can use that money to buy his snack foods for the month. We’ll see how it goes!

5. Balance is key. Even though we both have different tastes, I do try to make sure my husband is fueled with healthy foods. I will often time swap out butter for olive oils, try to add in extra vegetables for bulk, and serve up healthy vegetarian dishes he has shown a liking too (he’ll tell me if he doesn’t like it ;) ).

Here are a few dishes we both enjoy…

Cheesy Chickpea Quinoa and Spinach (I typically add chicken for the Husband)

Vegetarian Unstuffed Cabbage Casserole

Lentil Stuffed Pepper Soup

September 14, 2011 018

Squachili (squash bowl chili)

There are obviously many other dishes that we can enjoy together as a family, but these are the few that stick out to me the most!If there’s anything I’ve learned over the course of the last couple years of marriage, it is definitely to let your spouse/significant be themselves – food and all! :)

Question: Do you and your family/spouse have the same eating habits? Has this ever caused difficulties?

{ 48 comments… read them below or add one }

Rachel Cooks December 11, 2012 at 6:23 am

Great post! I’m not a vegetarian, but I am close to a vegetarian when I’m pregnant due to my food aversions. I still cook meat for my husband and daughter as well. And he tries all my crazy new concoctions and tells me they are delicious even if he is pushing parts of it to the side of his plate…hoping I won’t notice. ;)


Sara @ fitcupcaker December 11, 2012 at 6:27 am

I usually end up making 2 separate meals also or tweaking them so that my 11 year old step son will at least eat something. Thankfully my husband will eat anything I cook! That soup looks great too. Ill have to try that recipe… I do keep some snacks (that I usually dont eat but want to) in the house for my husband, like sugary cereals, poptarts :)


Kristen @ notsodomesticated December 11, 2012 at 6:41 am

I can’t imagine cooking two meals a night, but I guess if you’re used to it, it’s not a big deal. I find it to be enough work just to do one! ;) Quite often, I just say we’re having breakfast for dinner and throw together eggs and toast and call it a night haha!


Sam @ Better With Sprinkles December 11, 2012 at 6:48 am

It’s nice that you guys are able to compromise! Fortunately the boyfriend and I have pretty similar tastes, so it’s not an issue. He gets more healthified foods than he would probably like (chicken burgers instead of regular burgers, baked sweet potato fries instead of regular fries, that sort of thing) but whenever he has a massive craving for a burger, he goes out and gets one. Like you said – they’re not toddlers, so they can make their own choices!


Becky Przy December 11, 2012 at 6:59 am

The husband and I have very different food preferences. I am never home for supper during the week, so he cooks for himself. I grocery shop, so I sorta influence what he eats;-) He is really good at eating vegetables, but he loves red meat (I do not). Our toddler is not a picky eater–eats vegis before anything else…so I think we are doing just fine, even if it means we are each cooking our own thing.


Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin December 11, 2012 at 7:06 am

It can sometimes be hard to plan meals when I’m visiting home (like right now for Christmas break) because we all have different tastes. Even though we all eat meat, I do enjoy eating more vegetarian meals, but my dad isn’t a fan of them. Also my sister won’t eat fish, my dad won’t eat squash, and none of them will eat tofu or tempeh. We usually find something we all agree on, but sometimes we just end up making separate meals!


Emily @ Perfection Isn't Happy December 11, 2012 at 7:09 am

I love this post! My husband is definitely more of a meat eater than I am, so we both have to compromise when it comes to dinner. He’s okay with a couple of vegetarian meals a week, and I’m okay with cooking meat for him a couple of times a week (and I’ll eat it too). Sometimes, if we’re just having an “eat what you can find” night, we’ll eat completely separate things, but I enjoy making dinner for him, and it’s kind of fun to pick out recipes that I know we’ll both like.


Linz @ Itz Linz December 11, 2012 at 7:12 am

Jonny definitely eats and prefers WAY more meat than I do. However, I do still eat meat. The difference is that the only meat I cook is chicken and occasionally fish. (That’s why my anniversary present to him was a huge package from Omaha Steaks – he loved it!) I’m lucky that he eats almost anything and so he’s easy to please :)


Lauren December 11, 2012 at 7:14 am

When I used to not eat meat, I would do the same things. Now, it’s a little easier that we both eat chicken and poultry, but I’m still catering our plates to each others liking. For example, last night, I made chicken, beet, goat cheese and asparagus salad for me and for him, I made chicken roasted potatoes and asparagus. I’ve just gotten really good at knowing how to make two meals.


Cara December 11, 2012 at 7:16 am

I really appreciated this post. I need to make more of an effort to make some things that my husband likes, rather than always making the things I like. We always eat turkey burgers and lately he has been saying he really want a REAL burger and other nights I just don’t feel like meat, while he feels like meat every night. It really is easy to whip up a meal and just add meat to his portion, or just make 2 separate similar meals! Thanks!


Angela @ Health's Angel December 11, 2012 at 7:19 am

It sounds like you two are great at compromising! This is definitely a great model for couples to go off of. I’m not going to lie though, this is one of the biggest reasons I’m glad that I’m single. I get to make whatever I want, every night. I think I’m still in my selfish stage a bit… ;)


Madeline @ Food Fitness and Family December 11, 2012 at 7:20 am

Chris and I are the same way on a lot of things. I have convinced him that trying things once or twice is all I ask and then if he still doesn’t like it I won’t ask again. Case and point: portobello burgers. I will never live those down haha.


Abby @ Change of Pace December 11, 2012 at 7:22 am

Love this! My husband is vegan and I’m not, but we’ve found a lot of dishes we both like. I can’t make myself enjoy tofu, so when he has that, I’ll sometimes do seafood. Although I don’t eat much meat so never cook it in the house, he doesn’t judge me for buying and preparing seafood.


Kerry @ Totes My Oats December 11, 2012 at 7:23 am

This is a great post! There’s usually a night or 2 where there are different meals happening in my house.


Mikhaila December 11, 2012 at 7:26 am

I often cook 2 meals as well. I have been trying to find more meals that we all like then I can just add things in the end. I do sometimes find it hard and dont feel like making two different meals though. I liked your idea of putting aside the 50 dollars for your husband to buy his own snacks. I also find it hard to buy all the junk and dont always know what he wants. I will have to try this. Thanks!


Michelle December 11, 2012 at 7:29 am

I sometimes cook 2 meals. It’s easier to please both him and I that way!


Kaitlin @4loveofcarrots December 11, 2012 at 7:53 am

my boyfriend eats red meat and I do not but I will happily cook it for him when he wants it. He would have left me a while ago if I made him eat all that I eat!


Kristen December 11, 2012 at 8:00 am

I loved this post! I’m a vegetarian because of texture, too. I’ve had bites here and there over the years and the texture makes me gag… especially not having it in so long. I do love the smell of it, though, and often cook it for others.

Have you ever tried subbing quinoa for rice in the stuffed pepper soup? I’ve seen it posted so many times on here and think I’m finally going to have to make it.


Hannah @ CleanEatingVeggieGirl December 11, 2012 at 8:05 am

I am generally the one who cooks the most in my household. The majority of the time when I cook I cook vegetarian meals. On nights when I am unable to cook my family usually eats meals that contain meat. If I am making a dish that I can easily incorporate meat into (tacos, spaghetti, etc.) then I also cook meat. As a result of all of this, my family members probably eats half of their meals with meat and about half vegetarian/vegan. It seems to work pretty well!


Katie @ Peace Love & Oats December 11, 2012 at 8:21 am

Haha I’d probably try and shove veggies down my imaginary husband’s throat too. My friend who just got engaged’s fiance hates veggies, but he loves her so much that he’ll eat them if she makes them. Wondering how long that will last… haha


Katie December 11, 2012 at 8:45 am

Such good points. We have the same situation in our household, and I usually just make whatever I want, and then throw a chicken breast or a steak on the side for the man. You gotta do what works!


Stacey December 11, 2012 at 8:59 am

We tend to eat the same protein and the side dishes will vary – I eat paleo so my side dishes are veggies/squash/sweet potatoes, etc and I always include a fat. My husband is a starchy guy so I accommodate as I see fit ;) Brown rice, quinoa, Annie’s Mac & Cheese, etc. My rule is if you want it, you buy it. I do the grocery shopping in our household 90% of the time and buy him clean cereal, mac & cheese, soup etc. If he wants sugar foods then he’s welcome to them but he knows he has to make the grocery trip with me. It works for us!


kim@hungryhealthygirl December 11, 2012 at 10:08 am

My husband and I have very similiar tastes and eat the same way. He’s definitely more of a meat eater than I, though. Sometimes when we have meatless meals, I add some chicken to his or cook him up a chicken breast to have on the side. I’m also lucky because he’s not afraid to cook up what he wants. I like your attitude when it comes to cooking for your husband and agree that the way we want to eat should be a personal decision.


Lisa December 11, 2012 at 10:17 am

Great post. Sometimes when I cook for my family I’m at a bit of a loss. I eat similarly to my Mom, but not my Sister and Step-Dad. I don’t always mind cooking two meals though, since I don’t do it often.


Lindsay @ Running the Windy City December 11, 2012 at 10:22 am

My boyfriend and I are the same way. After a year or so of trying to get him to eat the way I do, I’ve decided that it’s best for both of us if I just make each of us our own dinner. I also don’t have a problem cooking meat for him although I usually ask that he help out in the kitchen when I’m doing that.


Jodye @ Chocolate and Chou Fleur December 11, 2012 at 11:35 am

I’m so with you on this one! My boyfriend and I are both vegan, but have completely different tastes – I mean, worlds apart. So I do end up making two dinners basically every night. I don’t mind though – it’s become my little routine, and I think I’ve become pretty efficient in getting everything done in a timely manner


Cat @ Breakfast to Bed December 11, 2012 at 11:46 am

I am not a vegetarian, but I don’t like meat either. Often I find myself doing things like making chili, and then adding browned beef for the menfolk in my house. Or I’ll make lentils and rice with veggies, and I’ll top it with grilled chicken thigh…things like that.

I won’t buy pop, though.


Tara December 11, 2012 at 12:17 pm

My husband has come along way since we got married. He is always willing to try something new (quinoa, barley, greek yogurt).
I will say, that my eating has improved as well, and I dont eat alot of the stuff he does/that I use to. (no more processed anything).
I will make clean-eating dishes, and he likes them, as long as its something that will fill him.
Now, he will not partake in my green monsters or other things, but he eats salads, spinach, etc.
He will even say when we go out to eat ‘this sounds good, but it doesnt sound healthy’!


Devon @ Health in Equilibrium December 11, 2012 at 12:40 pm

Great post! Relationships and living situations can be tough when dietary preferences are so different. I once dated a guy who ate nothing but frozen pizzas, frozen dinners and fast food. NOT my style. We made it work for a while and didn’t break up for that reason, but I’m definitely ready do date someone who enjoys the odd vegetable!


Chanel December 11, 2012 at 1:12 pm

My husband has complete opposite taste in food as I do. I have always been a veggie girl where my husband is a meat and potato kind of guy. My daughter is a mix between the two of us. It is a little difficult to keep everyone happy when dinner time comes around. My husband has been trying to venture out some more.


Sara @ The Foodie Diaries December 11, 2012 at 1:26 pm

My family back home in Florida and I have very different eating habits. Recently I’ve incorporated more veggies and meats, and less carbs (IT’S BEEN SO HARD – I LOVE CARBS) where my family has the same point of view as my inner-carboholic. They cook huge pasta and rice dishes where the veggies and meat are the minoroties. When I go home I try to take a small portion of the carbs and balance it out with extra veggies and meat where my family stocks up on the carbs. Living in Boston I cook for myself so it’s never a problem – I make what I want! ;)


Jen@HealthyFoodandFamily December 11, 2012 at 1:59 pm

I could probably eat the same thing for dinner every night for dinner and be happy, but the kids and husband want variety. Everyone gets to pick a meal for dinner during the week and on nights where my 2 youngest pick, more times than not, I’ll make myself something different.


lisa fine December 11, 2012 at 2:25 pm

My partner and I are both long-time vegetarians, which makes things really easy at our place. The only issue is that I have a soy allergy and he loves tempeh, but for now the kitchen is mostly soy free, and it’s not a life threatening allergy, so it’s not a big deal.

I’m always amazed by vegetarians who can cook meat – more power to you!


Natalie @ Free Range Human December 11, 2012 at 2:28 pm

My husband is a very picky eater so this has caused some issues for us. Both of us meet in the middle though, and most of the time it works out fine!


Parita December 11, 2012 at 4:43 pm

Love this post because I can totally relate. I suppose I’m lucky because Vishnu eats all the veggie meals I make! You are super wife making 2 dinners a day! I’ve done it a couple of times so far and I’m not a fan. Haha!


Amber K December 11, 2012 at 6:13 pm

My husband and I usually eat the same thing even though I hate meat and he loves it. We usually eat the same exact meals throughout the week except he hates corn tortillas so he uses his regular flour ones if we’re having a burrito or taco night. I start gagging if I have to touch meat, which is not good since my doctor wants me to start adding a bit to my diet since I’m super low on protein.


elise December 11, 2012 at 7:05 pm

when kyle and i met, he ate way more meat…but hes never been a huge carnivore. unlike you, i dont like handling meat. it just grosses me out. but thats me. so naturally he ate way less because i do a lot of the cooking. he never really minded. even when we went out to restaurants, i noticed he rarely ordered any red meat anymore. and a couple of years ago he just decided on his own to go vegetarian. his decision. makes me happy of course, but like you said, hes a grown man, he can do what he wants. but im not naive enough to think i had nothing to do with it. i mean, he DOES have a wife who is a nurse on the cardiac step down unit, so im sure it stems from health concerns given my patient stories :) he still doesnt really like labels, and will have fish or something if he really really wants it, but its pretty rare. i really dont care as long as he is healthy and happy. and thats pretty much how i feel about everyone’s diets. to each his own!!


Katie @peacebeme December 11, 2012 at 7:13 pm

I do all of these exact same things. I found this post helpful because it made me feel more normal. I am not a vegetarian but I don’t like all that much meat. My husband and I have allot of other food preference differences. He likes spicy food and garlic and I hate both! I make two dinners sometimes or he just modifies what I make by adding the spices at the end.I felt like I was such a weirdo for doing this for such long time. Thanks everybody for making me feel better!


Lyric December 11, 2012 at 10:15 pm

I just rad the Squachili recipe. I WILL be making this ASAP. Thanls Chelsea ;)


Kris | December 12, 2012 at 1:02 am

Oh girl, I’m so lucky that Ryan eats just as clean as me for his “6 Pack” LOL!



Amy December 12, 2012 at 4:39 am

this sounds exactly like my husband and me! I cook meat for him, though I don’t eat it-totally a texture thing. I often make 2 meals, and am just used to it. That being said, he has tried many things I have put in front of him-and really likes parsnips, brussel sprouts, and fish-though he will NOT do tofu-pick your battles! Great post!


Suzanne December 12, 2012 at 7:59 am

Great post! And so comforting to know I am not the only one doing this – I often feel like I am making a mistake by catering to all of our preferences. My husband eats meat, but I no longer cook it (15 years or so now)- he is happy eating vegetarian at home and then eats meat when we go out (rare) or if we have company, he may grill something. My kids have always been vegetarian and so far have no interest in eating meat. One son is also now mostly vegan (as am I). And though hubby likes eating veg. , his tastes are different so a typical night has all four burners going – (ie quinoa, beans, tofu, steamed veggies and then I have to remove something to stir fry for hubby with garlic and onion and the above ingred ). Kids like things plain, hubby loves lots of spice and garlic and onion, and I like things more plain but mixed together (quinoa tofu and veg but no garlic/onion etc.) Friday night is pizza night and we each make our own pizza bc they are all different! Last night was soup , salad and grilled cheese – seems simple right? only 2 eat grilled cheese, one eats a bagel with crm chz, I have no sandwich and another has pb on bread!
Sorry to go on – this is a hot topic for me!!! Thanks for the post :)


Lauren December 12, 2012 at 2:38 pm

He could make some homemade cookies! My husband does. ;)


Stephanie @ My Freckled Life December 12, 2012 at 3:01 pm

What a great post! My husband and I just got married in November, so we are still trying to find that balance. He’s a total meat and potatoes kind of guy, while I am pro-veggie and don’t eat red meat. We are still trying to find what works for us, but it’s great to know that it IS possible to have two totally different palates and still make it work (without any yelling, arguing, or food throwing)!


Lisa December 12, 2012 at 3:15 pm

I can totally relate to this post! I’ve been eating vegan for almost 2 years and my husband and 2 kids do not have any interesting in eating how I eat. I literally make 2 separate meals 6 nights a week, and try to have one night a week where we all eat the same thing (ie vegan). They’ve been good sports about that one night a week. I’ve recently had allergy testing done and now need to avoid gluten, so that poses more challenges, but we’re navigating through things the best we can. I don’t have any expectations that my family will want to eat like I do, but try to influence them to healthier choices and adding more fruits & veggies into their diets.


kaity @ kaityscooking December 12, 2012 at 3:58 pm

love this post.. i have trouble feedin my foods to my parents because there use to the stuff they eat but ill try to always add in stuff they like to mine and compromise with them, and i lovee the lentil stuffed pepper soup!


Louise December 13, 2012 at 10:33 am

Great post! And all the comments, too.. It makes me realize that there are a lot of us in the same situation. My husband and I have been married for just over 2 years now – I’ve been strictly vegetarian for about half that time, but he eats meat. At first, I wanted him to eat all the veggies and veg-friendly foods I prepared (mushrooms, peppers, eggplant, almost any legume, the list goes on and on…), but not once did he ask me to try his meat. As time has passed, I stopped urging different foods on him, but his palette has expanded just a bit anyway.

I guess I’m sort of lucky because I’m not the only cook in the house. We usually cook together, sometimes making two separate meals, sometimes making one basic meal that with our own protein of choice, and sometimes we making one meal that we’ll both eat. It’s nice because we each have our own cooking styles.. we used to argue about the “correct” method to cook different things, but now cooking dinner is usually a relaxing time when we get to bond over the stovetop and the kitchen counter.

Any other recipes that you both enjoy? Unfortunately, all of the ones you listed in this post are in the “No way he’ll eat that!” category, but I would love them!


Andrea @Pencils and Pancakes December 13, 2012 at 6:51 pm

I recently moved back in with my fiance and we are struggling with the food thing! He complains that I don’t make enough food, but I am the one who goes grocery shopping and I try to be very frugal. If I don’t have a coupon for it or it’s not on sale…I don’t buy it lol. I’ve gotten better over the past few months but its hard! He basically eats 2x as much as me so I have to make 3x as much as I used to make!


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