Do you have picky eaters at home? They could be children, certainly, but even adults have some food hang-ups! When you have a child who is pushing away food because it is a color of which they don’t approve or “smells funny,” don’t despair. There are things you can do to help them enjoy a healthier diet full of nutritious, delicious, and varied foods.
One of the best ways to reduce challenges when it comes to picky eaters is with a good game plan. Plan ahead—way ahead.
Plant a Garden
Children who know where their food comes from are more likely to be engaged with it. If they help grow that eggplant, they’re naturally going to be more excited about enjoying it in eggplant parmesan.
Search for Recipes
Take out cookbooks, magazines, or a computer and start looking. Focus on one main ingredient (that eggplant, perhaps?) or a theme (taco Tuesdays, anyone?). Meal planning can be a huge chore, but when the family is involved together, it takes some of the pressure off the primary planner.
Go Shopping Together
While it may seem like a lot of work to take children to the grocery store, it can actually be a great experience for everyone. Armed with your list from your recipe-planning session, your picky eaters can help find ingredients on a sort of scavenger hunt. Compare prices and read ingredients on anything in cans and boxes, and you’ll be teaching your children some lessons that will bring attention to their overall health and wellness for the rest of their lives.
Get Those Picky Eaters Cooking
When it’s time to start cooking, don’t overlook the contributions that the rest of your family can make. Even toddlers can help with meal preparation by learning ingredients and helping to sort what is needed for that evening’s recipe. For older kids, have them measure, chop, cut, or stir. Your picky eaters may not love what’s for dinner, but they’ll take more pride in it when they’ve played a part in choosing and making it.
Include New Foods Alongside Tried-and-True Options
With truly picky eaters, it’s practically impossible to offer up a whole host of new foods, let alone foods they don’t like. Instead of bringing on a battle, mix it up with things they love alongside new or less-liked options. For instance, if your child likes macaroni and cheese, serve that with some vegetables they don’t like as much.
Have everyone at the table try at least one bite of everything that’s served. That way, the picky eaters see that they aren’t doing anything different from anyone else.
It’s a good reminder here that Mom and Dad are not short-order cooks. Make it a rule that the whole family eats what is served, and everyone sits at the table together during dinnertime. Of course, you’ll get less pushback on this when the kiddos were involved in planning and prepping from the get-go.
Make Dinner a Family Affair
These days, many families are eating on the go, grabbing something from the drive-thru en route to the next soccer game, recital, or what-have-you. Instead of feeling rushed all the time, include in your meal-planning time for everyone to come together. Although it may not be feasible every single night, choose which nights will be dinner at home. Turn off the TV. Put aside devices. Eat at the table. Talk about your day.
No matter what’s on the table that evening, everyone is more likely to be engaged when there’s some happy chatter to accompany dinner. Don’t focus on the fact that Junior didn’t eat all of his peas; instead, acknowledge that he took a bite without spitting them out. Recall how you looked up these recipes and what you might do differently—or the same—next time. Consider what you might like to add to your rotating menu next week.
Mealtime can easily become quality family time with some forethought. After all, that’s what families have been doing for generations.
Help Picky Eaters by Outsourcing the Cooking
When you have picky eaters in the house, it can be easy to lose heart and start to fall back on the old habits of just letting them eat whatever they like. After all, at least they’re eating, right?
How about adding quality, chef-prepared and -cooked food that tastes delicious? At Vegan Taste, we deliver freshly cooked vegan meals that incorporate a host of colors, nutrients, and flavors that are sure to have your picky eaters asking, “What’s that?” Sometimes, kids may turn up their noses at a single ingredient, but when it’s masterfully incorporated into a stunning dish, they’re happy to take a second look.
Check out what Chef Jason has on the menu this week and sign up to try something new!