Here is the truth in one cold, hard fact – you have to offer a food to a child 10-15 times before they actually “acquire” a taste for it (source: UCSF Children’s Hospital).
As parents, all we can do sometimes is continue to cook healthy meals and place them in front of our children (and picky husbands) with fingers crossed, then hope for the best. Some, eventually they’ll develop a taste for, while others they may just never like. Such is life!
So while there are tons of fun tricks to make meals not only more enjoyable for your children, but also for you, in the end my advice is don’t give up! Most children go though a picky eater phase, but they out grow it (hopefully!)
There is such controversy about making your children eat (really, there is a controversy about everything to do with children these days!). On one hand, you want them at least taste new foods and eat, but on the other hand making them clear their plates can cause obesity. I don’t know when my children are truly full (though I do often have an inkling). However, we have a strict rule in our home that everyone abides by called “The No Thank You Bite”.
It’s a rule brought into my life a long time ago by my mother, who invented it to get my sister and I to try new foods.
The rule is simple. To be excused from the table you must take one bite of every item on your plate. That’s it. No more, no less… just one bite. I’ve found that sometimes my children are being so stubborn they won’t eat it even after they realize they like it, while most of the time after one bite they realize it’s not so bad.
After freaking out to my pediatrician when my first daughter went through her extremely picky stage, I was told, “She will eat when she’s hungry.” It’s true too. They won’t starve themselves. and skipping a few meals won’t hurt them, so I let them try it and if they feel the need say, “No thank you.”
Pictured: My daughter, Izy (age 7 months) after a the failed blue-raspberry Popsicle experiment of 2007.
Meals don’t have to be the standard meat and vegetables. It can be anything your heart desires. You can serve breakfast for dinner or even top of chicken with a side of waffles (they do in California restaurants!).
To make meal time more fun for everyone, quit thinking about what meals are suppose to be and think outside of the box.
Do you realize that left over waffles can make a really delicious sandwich for lunch? So can left over pancakes! Yes, the first time I did this, my children laughed hysterically and my husband looked at me like I had flipped my lid. It only took one bite for them to quit making fun of me and enjoy instead their meal.
So serve your dinner salad on a pizza crust, because salad pizza with vegetable dip topping is really good. And instead of thinking that “it’s just not right”, think about what else you could put on that pizza crust… Apple Crisp Pizza makes a yummy dessert!
What’s Cooking Today:
Breakfast: Yogurt Parfait
Lunch: Waffle Sandwich
Dinner: Vegetable Pizza
Pictured: Izy (age 2 1/2) feeding Daelan (age 2 months) who is not quite old enough to complain about my cooking yet.
1 Cup Sausage or Ham (diced & cooked, optional)
10 oz Spinach or Broccoli (frozen & thawed slightly or fresh)
1 Cup Cheese (cheddar or other favorite)
2 Small Chopped Onion
2 Cups Milk
1/2 Cup Flour
2 tsp Baking Powder
Other veggies and meats desired
Mix eggs, milk, flour, and baking powered together until well blended. Add meat, veggies, and cheese. Pour into a freezer bag and remove as much air as possible. Freeze flat.
To serve, thaw in the refrigerator. Mix until blended. Pour into a pie plate pre-covered with non-stick cooking spray or into a pie crust. Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes and serve hot.
Customize this recipe. Make mushroom and broccoli quiche or spinach and chicken. The options are endless!
This recipe is from the In Good Cents archives. Thanks goes to my stepmom, Jacqui, for the idea of calling this tasty dish “Egg Pie”.
A rose by any other name still smells as sweet? Umm… no, not at our home!
While my children will not touch broccoli, let alone eat it, they will gobble down “tiny trees”. And though they would never even consider eating something called brussel sprouts, they absolutely love to eat entire heads of very small lettuce.
Is it trickery? Yeah, probably. But I went through most of my life thinking brussel sprouts were the most delicious small heads of lettuce and I turned out just fine… for the most part.
I’ve found that if food has an odd name or if it’s just something they’ve never heard before, they are more likely to announce that they “do not like that” before it even hits their plates. So, I often serve “egg pie” instead of quiche and my children love it. Who doesn’t love pie? And usually about half way through the meal, I’ll tell them it’s quiche… then “tada!”, they tell me they really like quiche. This even works on my picky husband.
So, try renaming a few of your foods. Call a yogurt smoothie a milkshake if it works (it practically is anyway) and let them feel like they getting ice cream for breakfast!
I learned this trick from my dad who told my poor younger sister, who would only each chicken until… well, recently, actually… that everything was chicken. So, she ate it.
What’s Cooking Today
Breakfast: Breakfast Cupcakes
Dinner: Egg Pie
Pictured: My daughter, Izy, at 10 months enjoying s snack.
My children love to cook! I truly hope, that this continues on as they grow. No matter what I’m making, they are always standing nearby saying, “Mom, can I make with you?”
I really get them involved on baking or freezer cooking days, but they usually only make it 1/2 of the way though the day before they abandon me for something more exciting than a tower of tortillas or an excessive amount of waffles and muffins.
Both of my girls are more likely to dig into something they made with their own two hands. In fact, they get so proud of their creations, they gobble them down, while bragging about their skills in the kitchen.
So find some things your children can cook or when making meals like tacos, set out the ingredients so they can build their own!
What’s Cooking Today
Lunch: Kiddie Kabobs
Dinner: Salad Night
Pictured: My daughter, Ady, at 5 years old whipping up some raspberry muffins on a baking day.