Most kids are picky or particular about what you are asking them to eat, especially if it looks “weird” or smells different. In other words, they rarely eat everything that is put on their plate, and don’t want to eat any kind of variety, AKA the kind of food adults would enjoy. This makes meal planning more frustrating, and keeping the children’s diet healthy a lot more difficult. I have a few small tricks that have worked for me in at least getting the kids to take a bite of something new, or to get more healthy stuff into them after a busy week of not-so-balanced meals.
I let them help me meal prep and sometimes help stir, with supervision. My 6 year old has found a new love for Butter Chicken, crazy right? I wonder if he will ever find love for keeping shirts on when we are at home… Spicy, aromatic, (“stinky” is what my 8 year old says), orange-colored (or “weird-looking” as the kids would say) chicken, and its one of his favorites! Why? Because he helps make it. Simple as that.
I let him help me add ingredients into the pan and he gets to stir everything together; then while it simmers, he helps me make the rice and side salad.
My kids are total veggie lovers, different cut up, colorful veggies in our salads are always a hit. Looks great, and it appeals to kids whether they help make it or not.
I also like to do a lunch at least once a week that consists of raw, cut up fruits and veggies, crackers, and hard boiled eggs (no yolk, cause the yellow part is “gross”), sometimes cut up sausage, and pickles. This is actually a favorite of both of my kids, so it’s at least one win for the week, and I didn’t have to cook! I make sure to present it on a platter with all of the different colors spread out so it looks pretty and then they devour it!
When I’d like a more family-type meal, I always put the new foods that I want to introduce them to on the plate with familiar items, and I try to make it look fun to eat. Whether it’s a fun family breakfast with colored scrambled eggs (just add a drop or two of food coloring to your mixture before you scramble), bacon and fruit designed into a smiley face on a plate, or Fun little emoji themed characters made with pork loin roast for the hair, cucumber eyes and legs, and a snap pea smile on a bed of basmati rice.
PS my super picky 8 year old actually tried the roast, both kids got a kick out of the presentation, and didn’t argue with me about how they “don’t like it” before they have even tried it *insert eye roll* which was a huge win! It’s all about the Mom-wins!
When you are hosting extra kids and want to have a fun meal, try something wacky. My kids watch iCarly, so I made them and their friends some spaghetti and meat ball tacos (that they have seen on the show) with a side of bagged salad with ranch. Kid friendly, fun, well rounded meal. (only one kid told me it was too weird and opted out of the taco shell lol). I’ve also done fun themed meals, like using cookie cutters to make fun shaped sandwiches (bonus: no crust, if that’s your kids preference, also good idea for bento style lunch kit ideas).
Presentation is the key to success with these picky little buggers. We as adults expect our plates to be presented in an aesthetically pleasing way when someone serves us, in a restaurant or at a dinner party. Kids also respond well to the visually appealing plates, this in my experience. Plus, you get to have fun and be a little creative in the process. And when your kid has friends over, they all think you are really cool. Another Mom win.
Hopefully it works out that you also get to experience at least one meal where it isn’t a fight to get them to try what you’ve made, or sit and actually eat whatever it is that you are serving. Not sure about the rest of your children’s preferences, but if mine got to choose their own meals every night, I would be eating KD or Chicken noodle soup a lot. Once in awhile, I ask the kids what they want for dinner, I say pick a protein (I give them a few options), a vegetable and some sort of starch. They come up with interesting combinations of foods they like, but they are happy they got to help decide on dinner ideas and they actually will finish an entire meal, because it was their idea. Incorporating fun and letting them help, in one way or another, are the keys to getting the kids to eat.
I’m a busy working/stay at home mom too, but when I take the extra few minutes to deliver my presentation to the kids, It makes it worth it to see they are excited to sit down with us to eat something that looks fun, and that makes it worth the extra effort.
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