Most days I feel like the food slave. "Mama, can I have a snack?" "Mommy, when are you going to give me a snack?" "When is it going to be lunch time, Mama?" "Hey Mom, is it dinner time yet?" "I'm so huuuuuungry Mom!" "I'm staaaaarving now!"
So my solution? The meal clock.
The clock was less than $4 from Walmart and I grabbed 4 crayons I felt went well together. I taught my kids (aged 5, 4, 4, 2, 2) that when the "black line with the big bump at the end" is in between the colors, that's when food will be served. I also explained which colored areas mean what and they caught on really quickly to the concept.
Now before my head is ripped off, they're always allowed fruits and veggies 24/7. So if ever they are hungry during the day, they're always allowed to grab an apple, orange, cut up cucumbers, carrots, etc. Those kinds of foods are always an open policy. It's the goldfish, cheese sticks, fruit snacks, etc. that are regulated with this system.
It's awesome because once they get the hang of it, they know what to expect. They did try to outsmart me by arguing that since the line was still in the yellow after they had a snack, they'd be allowed to have more. So then I had to explain that we only get one snack during that time. I also had to explain that I may still be cooking the meal once it hits the pink, green, or blue but that we would definitely eat before the color ended.
These are the times that work for our family, but I definitely suggest you doing what works for you! My five kids all wake up in the morning at different times, which is why breakfast is more drawn out. Our afternoon snack time is also drawn out longer to accommodate those who take naps.
Let me know if you try this out! I know a lot of moms are constantly doing the food battle with their kids, so this might help out a little bit!