Feeding picky eaters can be a real challenge but I promise you can get any picky eater to like some more foods, without tears or stress and I can show you how.
After 30 years of feeding picky eaters, I have learned a ton of tricks to get people to eat new things.
Healthy meals for picky eaters
Picky eating can stem from many things so the first thing you need to do is figure out why the person is picky. I have sensory disorders and the things I don’t like to eat are not because they don’t taste good. I can’t eat them because once I put them in my mouth, I start to throw up.
My issues are with creamy foods like pudding and yogurt. Those things don’t taste yucky, I like them. I can eat a bite or two and then my throat just sends them right back. I can’t even explain it as a grown woman.
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There are so many ways you can encourage a picky eater to try something new. Once a had a child who would never eat scrambled eggs. I don’t like it, I don’t like it, I don’t like it is all he would say. After I had him for 2 full years in my care, he tried a bite. He was like, hey, this is good! I was like, yeah, I tried to tell you that. Silly kid.
Healthy dinners for picky eaters
Does this remind you of a book you know? It does me. Green eggs and ham! When I am working with someone who is picky, I will read this book every once in a while. If you’re not familiar, sam I am wants the cat in the hat to try green eggs and ham and he tells 100 different ways how he won’t try them. Sam keeps on encouraging him to just try.
Next, the cat finally gives up and says if I try them will you leave me alone? Sam agrees and when the cat tries the green eggs and ham, he actually likes them. Surprise surprise, that’s what happens with kids a lot of times.
Being patient and not worrying if the child (or adult) tries what you offer or not is the best way to encourage them to try something. I just let the kids watch the rest of us eating it and enjoying it. Modeling is a great way to get people to try things.
One time I was trying dolce. It’s seaweed. I really liked it. I was walking around eating it and the kids were begging for it. They wanted seaweed because I was eating it and didn’t offer them any. Sometimes it works like that. They always want what they don’t have.
For more tips like these to get kids to eat healthy and why they work, click on the highlighted text.
Healthy meals for picky eaters
If your kids won’t eat what you offer or what you don’t offer, another great way to add nutrients to their food is hide it.
I don’t recommend this as your main game plan, but if you can’t get your child to eat any fruits or vegetables (I’ve had kids like that before) try grating them up and disguising them to make sure they are getting all the nutrition they need.
Another good idea when trying to change a picky eater to a not picky eater (sometimes it can’t be done, but it can always be improved) is to start with really simple meals. For kids, the simpler the better. My kids would rather have cheese and crackers than gourmet lasagna any old day.
Food for picky toddlers
Spaghetti is always popular with kids. Click here to see how to make some super tasty and healthy spaghetti sauce.
Once kids get used to seeing spaghetti, you can start adding grated veggies that will disappear into the sauce and give a wider variety of nutrients.
Pasta dinner ideas
Mac and cheese is always a kid-pleaser. It can be made healthier and making it homemade is way better than making it from a box.
As you can see, pasta is a great vehicle for healthy dinners for picky eaters. There are a lot of things you can do with pasta. I brown up some kind of meat (ground beef, sausage, chicken, whatever I have on hand) and cook up some pasta. Then I add veggies and sometimes sauces to the meat mixture. You can use ranch seasoning, taco seasoning, or herbs of your own choice to flavor the dish.
Drop a bag of mixed veggies into the meat with some seasonings and cook until the veggies are done. Then mix into the pasta. Add cottage cheese or some grated parmesan for a cheesier pasta. You can use sour cream or cream cheese for a creamier texture. Or use a little chicken stock and cornstarch to thicken it for a sauce. There’s no limit to what you can do with pasta.
Kids are pretty easy to please with meat and potatoes. I find that kids like a chicken breast, a steak, or pork chop sautéed to perfection and cut into pieces. You can serve that with a side veggie and some kind of potato. Obviously, fries are a favorite and they are easy to make in the oven. Slice, toss with olive oil, salt and pepper, and herbs if you want. Roast in the oven at 400 until fork tender. Yum!
Your kids might even like baked potatoes. Or even better sweet potato fries or baked sweet potatoes. Experiment to find out what might work best. And remember, you have to offer a new food 11 times before it’s a familiar food, so don’t give up too early!
Budget-friendly healthy meals
We’re not made of money, are we? Food is expensive so it’s great to find meals that don’t break the bank. I love finding ways to make something creative out of less expensive food. Like these leftover meals.
Meatballs are a great healthy dinner idea. I like to serve them overcooked pasta, but you don’t have to have pasta. You can just have a few meatballs on the plate with a side of corn or other veggies your picky eaters might like.
Kids tend to prefer raw vegetables sometimes so try carrot sticks, cucumber slices or some other simple fresh veggie. Don’t forget fruit too. It can be a start for side dishes for picky kids.
Tacos are a great healthy meal. Check out these pork tacos for inspiration.
You can hide a multitude of healthy choices in a tortilla. Anything can be a taco. Think about different types of meats and vegetables. Cucumbers are delish in a taco and so are avocados. It doesn’t just have to be lettuce.
My kids LOVE pizza. There are a million different ways to make them. I make them healthy and you can see how in our pizza post here.
Healthy meal plans on a budget
Soup is another favorite around little sprouts. My kids make their own soups, and also enjoy tons of variety in soup. Even picky eaters like to eat what they cook. Even if they don’t the first time, keep offering it. You’ll see the change start to happen.
Soup is budget-friendly because you can use up what you have around. If you have a lot of people to feed you can also stretch it with some pasta or rice to make your meat go a long way.
If your kids like baked potatoes, load them up with some broccoli and cheese. I hear people say they hate broccoli all the time, but my kids love it. I roast it in the oven and it’s so good! One of my favorites. Potatoes are super budget-friendly.
Quick and easy dinner ideas
Quesadillas or grilled sandwiches are some other picky eater pleasers. I’m world-famous for my cheese quesadillas. A mom recently told me that she still makes my cheese quesadillas I taught her to make for her son after his high school football games. When I see him around town, I always get a smile and something about my quesadillas or taco soup. Way to make my day.
When you’re short on time, get your instant pot in on the deal, or prep meals before work and cook all day in your crockpot. You can even find super-fast meals to throw together in these quick and easy meals.
Selective eating disorder
There are many causes for picky eating, including selective eating disorder, sensory problems, and other things. There could be trauma-induced problems, swallowing problems, sucking problems or a number of other issues that cause a child to be a picky eater or selective eater. Talk to your doctor about it if you have an extreme picky eater. But most of all, remember, don’t punish or nag. It gives the opposite effect you’re wanting.
I hope I’ve inspired you for dinner for your picky eaters cause we moms have to stick together. You got this mom.
And for healthy dinner ideas, check this out.
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