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'AITA for refusing to cook for my picky husband and kids anymore?' UPDATED

'AITA for refusing to cook for my picky husband and kids anymore?' UPDATED


"AITA for refusing to cook for my husband who is a picky eater?"

I (41F) live with my husband (41M) and daughters (10, 17). Husband is a picky eater, which I've known about for 20 years. I'm used to making food and having husband and/or kids making faces, gagging, taking an hour to pick at a single serving, or just outright refusing to eat. My husband is notorious for coming home from work, taking one look at the dinner I've made, and opting for a frozen pizza.

Most of the meals I make cater to their specific wants. Like spaghetti: 10F only eats the plain noodles. 17F eats the noodles with a scrambled egg on top, no sauce. Husband only eats noodles with a specific brand of tomato sauce with ground beef in it. If I use any other sauce (even homemade) I'm going to be eating leftovers for a week. So it's just the one recipe of spaghetti.

These days, husband complains that we have a lot of the same meals, over and over. It's true, but when I've explained WHY that's true, it doesn't seem to sink in. I can only make a few things that everyone in the family will reliably eat and those get old.

A couple of nights ago I made a shepherd's pie. I used a new recipe with seasoned ground beef (3/3 like), peas (2/3 like), and tomatoes (1/3 like, 1/3 tolerate) with a turmeric-mashed potato top layer (2/3 will eat mashed potato). Predictably, 10F ate a single bite then gagged and ended up throwing hers away. 17F ate part of a single bowl then put hers in the trash. Husband came home late and "wasn't hungry."

I was so tired of reactions to my food and putting in the effort for YEARS and it all finally came down on me at once. I burst into tears and cried all night and the next morning.

So I told my husband that I was done cooking. From here on out, HE would be responsible for evening meals. I would still do breakfast for the girls, and lunch when they weren't in school but otherwise it was up to him.

He said "what about when I work late?". I told him he needed to figure it out. I told him that between him and the girls, I no longer found any joy in cooking and baking, that I hated the way he and the girls made me feel when they reacted to my food, that I was tired of the "yuck faces" and refusals to eat when I made something new and that it broke my heart EVERY time.

This morning, he had to work, so he got up early to do some meal prep. He was clearly angry. He said he doesn't understand why "[I] said I hated him". He said he "doesn't know what to do" and thinks I'm being unfair and punishing him.

He said I make things that "don't appeal to kids" sometimes and I can't expect them to like it when I make Greek-style lemon-chicken soup (17F enjoyed it, 10F and husband hated it). I countered that I make PLENTY of chicken nuggets, mac & cheese, grilled cheese, etc but that picky or not, there's such a thing as respect for a person's efforts. So, AITA?

What do you think? This is what top commenters had to say:


Of course NTA. OP you have the patience of a saint to have cooked all these years and put up with their dismissive comments. They have to experience what it is like to have to sort out their own meals, to everyone's liking. Then maybe they will be more appreciative of your efforts.


17 year old needs to learn to cook. When she goes to college or out into the world nobody is going to give a damn about her picky eating habits. She will shop/cook or starve.


If he can afford to be that picky, he needs to cater to himself. You’re not a short-order cook, and no one is helping you. NTA. He knows what things he will eat; he should also know how to prepare them, not just how to make faces at what you prepare.


NTA at all!! Lots of people would’ve refused to cook anymore, except maybe for the youngest, years ago. He’s a grown-up, he can figure it out and potentially deal with the same frustration you have faced all these years. Good luck to him.


NTA went through this with my husband and I stopped cooking for him - best decision ever. I started making double of what I eat , he was given the choice of eat what's there or cook it yourself - if he doesn't eat it leftovers for me. He got tired of peanut butter sandwiches and started eating what I eat.

If he complained I just said then don't eat it. He decided it was easier to not be picky and he now cooks in turn. Make what you want, put it down and if they hate it they can make it themselves- but you'll probably have to have a back up for the 10 yr old. And the 10 yr old is most likely following dad's example - stop catering to them!


NTA. This was exhausting and irritating to just READ, I can't imagine actually living it. I would've done this years ago, honestly. And it's not even that they're picky, really, it's that they're so damn rude about it AND your husband has the audacity to complain about the lack of variety in the meals.

No, it's time for him to deal with feeding the the picky eaters in the house including himself. I suggest you start finding some delicious recipes for two for you to make, so you can cook and eat exactly what you want with a meal leftover, and no worries about feeding your ungrateful family.

Commenters agreed (say it with me): Not! The! A-hole!

And here are some more relevant comments with OP's responses:

What does your husband do/splitting chores:

"He works as a retail manager every day except Wednesday and Thursday. I WFH on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays (afternoon-evening shift). We live on a hobby farm, so farm chores fall to me (unless it's plowing the driveway, because the tractor is old and fickle). We typically share large outdoor projects like firewood stacking, coop cleaning, and yard cleanup. Daily chores are mine.

I also do all the housecleaning, laundry, paperwork/bill paying, school events, pet care/vet appts, medical appointments, child care, gift shopping/shipping, and errands. Husband is usually good about picking up some groceries on his way home from work, and has recently stepped up to making some of the meals on nights when I work (if I didn't already have something in the crock pot)."

Wasting food:

"Most of our scraps go to the chickens, ducks, or dog. This time I was out of the room (crying) when they threw the stuff away in the trash."

What exactly is your policy when they don't eat the food?

"The policy has always been "try it first" and then (especially with the 10F) to ask WHY they don't like it. So if it's a texture thing, or flavor, or ketchup would help, I work with that. Like I KNOW the youngest doesn't like sauce/gravy, so I'll usually keep some of whatever it is reserved to the side so it doesn't get sauced.

The family likes over-baked fish, but 10F said she doesn't like the "black stuff" (pepper) so hers is lightly salted and done. If she picks at a meal without eating a reasonable amount, she's allowed to be done IF she agrees there will be no snacking/dessert afterwards. If she (or any of them) puts in the effort and it's just not their favorite but they TRIED, that's good enough for me.

It's the facial expressions and complaints that do me in. They don't have to love it, but if you're going to pick at it and then dump the plate and grab a bag of chips, I'm going to be hurt and upset, you know?"

Any allergies or food issues?

"Husband has a mild food allergy to onions, so those are not used in the house (unless it's something solely for someone else like salsa - he has to ingest it or handle peeled onions to get a reaction).

He's been to a doc for stomach/digestive stuff and aside from a recommendation for more fiber, there was nothing wrong with him. 10F's regular pediatrician says she seems healthy and isn't malnourished so they're not concerned much over her pickiness as a medical problem."

Have you ever expressed your dislike of their reactions before and/or tried to figure out what they like?

"Many, many times. I sat down with my husband when we first got together and worked out a list of things he WOULD NOT eat, so I could develop workarounds. To his credit, he's made progress over the years in trying things before he rejects them, and has learned to like, for example, sour cream in his mashed potatoes, even though he hates sour cream by itself.

Most of the things he DOES like are isolated flavors in a particular style. He eats exactly two kinds of pie: Raspberry and French Silk. But the Silk has to be on a Graham cracker crust with no whipped cream or chocolate curls, and the raspberry has to be a classic double-crust (no tart-style, crumble-top, or other cobbler-adjacent types). Using apples is a mortal sin."

A month after her original post, OP shared this update:

I spoke with each family member individually about their behavior. 10F apologized profusely and said that "sometimes [she] doesn't like my cooking". 17F (who has only been with us since she was 16 and didn't grow up with us. It was a bit too long and off-topic for the original post) said she appreciated that I make varied recipes, even if she didn't always like them.

She also said that she WANTED to cook, but had seen Husband and 10F's reactions to mine and was put off it. Husband accepted the TA judgement from the sub and to his credit, he planned and executed every evening meal.

The kids ate his meals, but husband's lack of finesse (overboiled vegetables, untrimmed meat, soggy pasta, etc) caused some picked-over meals from the kids. Everything was edible, though, and he very politely asked for some tips on things (like how long to cook rice) but I did not physically help. I reassured him that I wasn't trying to watch him fail but that I needed him to learn a lesson.

After a couple of weeks, both kids were tired of husband's oft-repeated recipes (homemade pizza, Korean beef/veg bowls, and nuggets/fries) and he was stressed trying to get home from work in time to get meals done. The very first night, 10F cried over her "dry, gross" pizza crust. Husband fought her over it and BOTH OF THEM looked to me to solve the issue.

I redirected 10F to Husband, saying it's his call since it's his dinner. With several meals, he made WAY too much mediocre food and had to eat leftovers for DAYS, which was cathartic. Eventually, I sat down with Husband and we evaluated the fallout. Husband said it hurt when the girls didn't like his food, and it was hard to plan things ahead on night he worked late.

He also admitted he was in a rut for recipes and that it was hard to modify for people's preferences. There is now a posted schedule and rule set that ALL family members are expected to adhere to. Each kid picked a night to cook (10F has Sunday, 17F has Saturday).

Husband and I split the weekdays according to work schedule. Since he works late on Monday and Friday, I took those. I work Tuesday and Thursday nights, so those belong to him. Wednesday is a flex day. Anyone can cook, or we might go out, and group projects are encouraged. The rules are:

NO gagging, "faces", or complaining

Cook chooses the meal, period

Assistance may be requested by anyone

Special ingredient requests must be made a minimum of two days in advance

So far so good. 17F has been learning a lot of technique, 10F is thrilled to be addressed as "Chef" by whoever is assisting her, and no one has yet broken any of the Rules. Husband more easily asks for my advice when he's cooking (how to season, how long to cook things) which is a huge improvement.

It's too early to declare victory, and it takes a long time to make permanent changes, but it's encouraging progress. Thanks everyone for the advice and the support! Here's to continued positive change.

Relevant Comment:

Did your husband actually apologize?

"Yes, he did!"

Sources: Reddit
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