Got any picky eaters in your house? Turn them into foodies with these tips!
Let me start with a disclaimer: I’m not here to judge or shame you. This is simply how I choose to raise my children. What works for us won’t necessarily work for everyone.
In short, nothing grinds my gears like adults who are picky eaters, so I have vowed not to let my kids grow up to be that finicky adult.
Growing up, we were not allowed to leave the dinner table until we finished what was on our plate, AND we had to drink all of our milk. Now, I by no means had a tortured childhood. My parents worked hard, sometimes even two jobs, for everything we had, so wasting food was just not an option. We hardly ever had name-brand food and did most of our grocery shopping at Aldi. There is nothing wrong with Aldi. I would shop there more often if there were one in my town, but 30 years ago the quality was not what it is today.
When my first daughter was born, I tried to be the ultimate mom. I wanted to be the BEST first-time mom ever. Who was I kidding? I bought the cute little baby bullet. I used it once to make green beans. My daughter hated them. She wouldn’t eat any pureed food; she went straight to wanting solids at 8-months-old. We ended up doing a modified version of baby-led weaning. Until she was two, I made her meals separate from what my husband and I were eating. As a full-time working mom, it got to be too much, and I was afraid I was creating a picky eater. She began eating what we were eating every single night.
A few years later, little sister came along. At that point, we were just trying to keep our heads above water, so there was never a thought of making her separate meals. Now I have a 5- and a 10-year-old that will eat anything or at least try it.
Here are a few simple ideas if you’re tired of the endless dinner feud and the endless requests for dino nuggets and macaroni and cheese:
- We always make a protein, a vegetable, and another side dish. All (or most) of the protein and one side must be eaten. They have to at least try the second side dish.
- Change it up. We use a wide variety of proteins in different forms. Our standards include: chicken (breasts and ground), pork (chops, roasts, and ground), smoked sausage, ground beef, Italian sausage, and ground turkey. Using a variety really keeps us from getting burned out on eating the same thing over and over again.
- Prep your fruits and veggies. We go to the produce stand and farmers’ market on Saturday, then we prep them for the week. We will wash, cut, and place them in quart-size Mason jars to ensure freshness and easy access for snacks and meals throughout the week.
- Just because you don’t love something doesn’t mean you don’t like it. We won’t always love everything we eat. Sometimes we eat things because the people we love worked hard to make a nutritious meal for us. This is also where I insert the story about how I ate SPAM as an adult because my Grandma made it, and you would NEVER not eat something that Grandma made.
In addition to these things, we rely heavily on meal planning. This allows the kids the opportunity to suggest some of their favorites and help me scour Pinterest for new recipes. We also let the kids play sous chef as often as possible to help them learn about what they are eating, how to prepare their own food, and what it tastes like raw and cooked (if applicable). Getting them involved in the process makes them proud that they helped make dinner, and they always want to eat what they made.
While writing this, my kids asked me to buy more Hakurei turnips for snacking and more avocados for their avocado toast. It seems as though they are well on their paths to becoming foodies!