My girls love to play a game called "restaurant." This game consists of Wayne and I sitting at the dining room table while the girls put various plates of pretend food in front of us. They both have little aprons they wear. Marissa will usually pretend to be the cook in the kitchen while Lindsey will be the server.
Add to this the fact that every time I say we're having leftovers for dinner, I get groans and moans of complaint from both the girls.
Eureka. [Small picture of incandescent lightbulb above my head.]
This evening was definitely leftovers night -- we had a three-day weekend's worth of grilled meats and cooked meals in our refrigerator. So instead of announcing that it was leftovers night, I grabbed a couple of pieces of paper and began to make an inventory of what our choices were:
Meats: pork, chicken, steak
Side dishes: potatoes, rice, salad
Fruits and veggies: green grapes, apples, carrots, tomatoes, strawberries
Drink: water, orange juice, red juice
These were labeled "Mom's Diner" and each girl was handed a menu, with instructions to put a check mark by the foods they wanted. I then collected the menus, and Lindsey became my "kitchen helper," helping me get plates, fill cups with the selected beverages, and getting out the selected fruits and veggies. Within 10 minutes their plates were in front of them with their menus beside them, so they could check to make sure they got what they had ordered.
As you can see, they were both pleased as could be to be eating their restaurant meals, custom ordered to their likings. They ate just about everything on their plates with the exception of Marissa, our vegetarian, who didn't touch her meat but ate all the fruits and veggies she had asked for.
Score one for mom.