This article ‘Essential Guide to preparing meals for picky eaters’ is a collaboration between Emondo Kids and Little Peeps Eats.
Serving meals to picky eaters can be a huge source of frustration for many families. There is something truly deflating about serving up a delicious home cooked meal to your family, only to have it completely rejected. I’ve been there. I think most mums have, right?
Both of my boys have been through stages of picky eating, and during these times there has been much trial and error, seeking advice from experts, and learning on the go.
Our mealtimes are much calmer now, and actually enjoyable for our family. I’d love to share with you all of the things that I’ve implemented that have been a game changer to our mealtimes.
Preparing meals for picky eaters
1. Get them in the kitchen, helping you prepare
For children to become more comfortable with different foods, exposing them to these foods in any many different ways as possible can help. It can sometimes take 20 or more ‘exposures’ for your child to feel comfortable enough to even taste a food.
There are a number ways you can expose your children to foods, but my favourite way of doing this is to actually get the kids in the kitchen helping me prepare the food!
A few ideas of what your kids can do to help with food preparation:
- Help with measuring ingredients
- Stir / mix the food
- Chop up ingredients using a kids safe knife. When I cook foods like our Super Power Spaghetti Bolognaise my boys will always help do the veggie chopping. My youngest had a strong dislike for capsicum until one day when he was chopping it himself, he picked up the piece right away and started eating it! Home made pizza is another great option to get kids involved in preparing the ingredients!
- Getting their hands dirty (make sure they are washed first!) and doing things like roll bliss balls or meatballs.
2. Add a bit of fun to their plate
Remember that like us, children eat with their eyes. If it doesn’t look appealing to them, they may not be included to try it. This is especially true when preparing meals for picky eaters.
You don’t need to be a Pinterest worthy plater of food to make things look nice, and thankfully there are some fabulous products out there that make this really simple!
One of my favourites is the Emondo Kids range of bamboo plates. They are super cute, and come with divided sections. This is a great feature for picky eaters, who may not like their foods to be touching.
You can see in the image I’ve served up my Super Power Spaghetti Bolognaise in the ears, with some other fresh veggies on the face. My son gets very excited when this plate comes out of the cupboard and enjoys helping me to create different fun Koala faces! They come in four awesome designs:
Use code LITTLEPEEPSEATS for 15% off on the Emondo Kids bamboo plates!*
Not valid on sale items, bundles or in conjunction with any other vouchers. Valid until 30 November 2018..
3. Serve meals ‘family style’ down the middle of the table
Serve your individual dinner foods in separate bowls/plates down the middle of the table, and let your kids serve themselves with tongs and choose what they would like to eat.
There really is something about tongs that kids can’t refuse! (In my case… I think it’s the obligatory tong fight that my boys love the most 😂). And I don’t know what your kids are like, but my two are pretty strong willed and like to be independent – so letting them have control over what goes on their plate has been really helpful.
You may be fearful your children will let less in this way, but please give it a try. It just may surprise you what they put on their plate!
I find Mexican dishes are perfect for this! We do this often when I make Quinoa Con Carne. The boys love to choose which toppings they would like to put on top.
They may not choose everything – but that is ok. If you are serving up a variety of healthy foods for them to choose from – and they choose to eat some of them – that’s a win!
4. Eat together, as a family
Monkey see, monkey do. Your little peeps will be much more inclined to try a food that they have seen you eat. For this reason, it can be really helpful to eat together as a family. I know that in real life this may not always be possible, but even if you can try to do it a couple of times a week, it an make the world of difference.
I will sometimes have ‘new’ foods on my plate and not even serve it to my kids if I think they will be resistant. They are then offered to have a taste of mine. For some reason, my kids seem to believe that food tastes better from mum’s plate!
5. Always include a few ‘safe’ foods
All kids tend to be hesitant when it comes to new foods. Regardless of what you are serving for meals, always ensure you include a few ‘safe’ foods that you know that they enjoy.
Serving a bowl of curry to a child that tends to only want to eat chicken nuggets, chips and corn every night may be an unrealistic expectation of them. By all means expose them to the curry – but include their nuggets, chips and corn in the mix as well.
This may mean that they have a plate of things that they enjoy (like the example of nuggets, chips and corn) but you give them a small bowl of curry on the side that they can try if they like.
If having a bowl of curry next to them will be too overwhelming – this could even be a tasting spoon. A teaspoon with a little of the curry on it, sitting in a dish next to their plate, with absolutely no pressure on your child to try it if they don’t feel comfortable.
You want dinner to be a stress free, no pressure atmosphere. And make sure you keep the telly turned off!
You can access even more tips, tips and recipes from our Fussy Eating, Recipes & Lunchbox Ideas Facebook Group.
Rachel Cassidy is the author of this article and the founder of Little Peeps Eats. She is a passionate food blogger and brand ambassador, but her most important job is being a mum! Little Peeps Eats helps families take the stress out of mealtimes by providing healthy, kid approved recipes, as well as fussy eating tips and tricks. Their website hosts a directory of nutritionists, resources and mealtime products to ensure that you have everything you need at your fingertips when it comes to feeding your family.