Preparing dinners for picky eaters is such a daunting task. It creates anxiety, stress, and frustration…for both child and parent! There are some proven tricks and tactics to help a picky eater be more adventurous and now here are 10 dinner recipes you can make NOW with success. Want to know why they work?
Why These Dinners for Picky Eaters Work So Well
- They provide a win for your child. They are types of foods they know and love already.
- They provide a win for you. There is just enough of a stretch in each recipe to begin those small steps towards a better balance in their nutrition and variety of food.
- They don’t look overwhelming. They resemble foods they are already comfortable with and don’t overwhelm with too many colors that will result in “I don’t like that!”
- They don’t taste challenging. These are flavors and ingredients that are already familiar. It won’t be a whole new taste experience.
- They sound like foods they already love. When a child hears a title of a dish that is something they can’t immediately make some type of association with, they automatically believe they will hate it.
Now that you understand these 5 critical criteria for picky eaters, you can look at your own recipes and find those that meet these same 5 principles.
Suggestions on How to Use These Picky Eater Recipes for Success
- Start small. Children don’t like a lot of change all at once. It creates a sense of instability in their growing brains and emotions. Pick one new recipe to try a week. Just one.
- Start with the one that will instantly connect with your child, both by it’s title and it’s appearance.
- Let them pick which recipe they want to try first. Again, we are looking to eliminate their feelings of no control when it comes to their food so get them involved.
- Make the recipe as written first. After your child knows what this recipe is and has become comfortable with it, then you can make a few small changes. They may or may not notice the changes to try to add more vegetables or protein.
How to Build Adventurous Eaters
Once you try a couple of these recipes and the suggestions above, you will want to grab your free picky eater guide so you can keep making steps forward. There are no quick fixes or magic solutions, but these 10 secrets will provide immediate progress and less stress.
Your No-Fail Recipes for Picky Eaters
For each recipe, I’ve also included why they work for you as well as your child, as well as variation options. Click any picture for the recipe.
- For you: a much healthier option than frozen or take out pizza.
- For your child: pizza + handheld + dipping = win
- Variations: try adding small chopped veggies, turkey sausage or pepperoni
- For you: includes tomatoes & spinach
- For your child: kids are obsessed with pasta, tomato sauce, and cheese.
- Variations: add some chicken or beef for added protein. Don’t remove the spinach. If they pick it out, that’s perfectly fine. They will get used to seeing it and eventually try it.
- For you: lots of protein and very easy to make
- For your child: both proteins are kid friendly and they love anything with a crumb topping.
- Variations: you can add veggies into the mix but I suggest adding them as a side dish instead so it doesn’t lead to overwhelm.
- For you: protein and veggies abound but not really “fried”
- For your child: kids love rice and generally like the veggies in this dish.
- Variations: you can use pork, beef, shrimp, or make it vegetarian. You can change the veggies, but don’t remove them. They need to get used to having them in their dishes.
- For you: lots of protein and easy to make
- For your child: simple southwest flavors without being spicy.
- Variations: you can use pork or beef instead and serve it with lettuce, tomatoes, and avocado on top if your child likes any of those.
- For you: very easy for kids to try when given toppings they like. Make it a fun “buffet” of toppings they can choose from.
- For your child: they get to choose what they put on top giving them control over part of what they eat.
- Variations: add more veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, pepper, or mushrooms. Make it as written to introduce it the first time, then try adding a vegetable next time.
- For you: significantly healthier than boxed mac and cheese.
- For your child: kids are obsessed with mac and cheese.
- Variations: add some protein and veggies….after you have served it “plain” at least once.
- For you: both protein and veggies in this quick dish
- For your child: two words….tater tots
- Variation: substitute whatever vegetable your child like best in the recipe
- For you: much healthier than take out or frozen pizza.
- For your child: first, pizza. Second, it is just fun food with dipping!
- Variation: use turkey sausage or pepperoni and finely chopped veggies
- For you: lots of protein from the chicken and black beans
- For your child: they love anything with cheese and something they can dip into salsa, sour cream, or guacamole
- Variations: use whatever protein you would like and you could add peppers, onions, and tomatoes as well.
Remember, these dinners for picky eaters are great first steps. Keep using the principles in this post and in my picky eater guide to make lasting progress. I promise you can do it! This is how I reversed picky eating in all six of my own children so I know where you are and what you are feeling. You’ve got this!
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