It can be super frustrating cooking for picky eaters. If you have a child (or a spouse) who will only eat chicken nuggets and crackers, you probably have a picky eater. Sometimes the pickiness happens due to genetics (such as when they hate broccoli), but sometimes it’s just happens. You can get your picky eater to eat more by trying these tips for getting a picky eater to eat.
- Enlist Their Help Cooking – When kids help prepare a meal, they feel more ownership over it and are much more likely to try it. Plus, consider cooking time a great time to be together as a family, enjoying a fun activity. People pay for cooking lessons for “date night” there is no reason you cannot make cooking fun at home too.
- Start a Container Garden – If a child has a problem eating veggies, consider growing the vegetables yourself. You can grow many veggies in containers if you don’t have the yard space. Also, you can grow sprouts for salads and more in tiny indoor areas.
- Let Them Serve Themselves – Don’t fill your child’s plate for them. Put the food on the table and “help” them as needed for their age so that they can pick and choose what they’re going to eat from what was prepared. Don’t make a big deal out of it.
- Keep Condiments, Toppings, and Sauces Separate – As older people our taste buds are different. Some of the more flavorful items like gravy, sauces, condiments, and toppings can be very strong. Let them choose by putting these on the side.
- Take Them Shopping – Let them go shopping with you so that they can see the cost, the process, and the planning that takes place to put a meal on the table. This is the only way for anyone to appreciate the process.
- Let Them Help Meal Plan – Getting your picky eater to help you plan some of your meals is an excellent way to ensure that they try new things. After all, if you’re trying the “new things” your child wants you to try, they’re going to return the favor.
- Make Things They Like – It’s okay that your picky eater wants to eat chicken nuggets, but you should make them. If you make them, they’ll be made from real chicken, less fat, and probably even have much more flavor.
- Don’t Force Them to Eat It – Never force your picky eater to eat anything they don’t want to eat. There may be reasons they don’t want it. The body is smart. It might be turning the child away from that food due to allergies or something else. Taste buds are very genetically affected. If your child hates cilantro it might be due to a genetic trait that makes it smell and taste literally like garbage.
- Hide the Veggies – You can hide veggies in foods that they like. For example, mac and cheese made with squash added is delicious, and they probably won’t even notice. You can shred zucchini and add it to any casserole, spaghetti chili, soup, or stew without anyone ever noticing.
- Close the Kitchen – One issue with picky eaters that pops up a lot is lack of hunger at the appropriate times. If you want your child to eat your dinner, make sure they’re hungry for it by closing the kitchen between meals and planned snack times.
Using their hunger, letting them help plan and prepare, while involving them in the process is the best way to encourage picky eaters to eat a bigger variety of food. It’s important to help children learn to love eating veggies because that’s where most of the nutrition and minerals are in food.