Feeding Picky Eaters

Planning a meal every night is a drag.  Throw in menu planning around an allergy or a picky eater, and it becomes downright painstaking.  And picky eaters aren't necessarily kids!  There are a few tricks to making meal planning easier while pleasing every taste bud at your table.

A picky eater may be fussy over certain foods for a number of reasons.  They may have had an allergy as a child and are not used to eating the food as an adult.  They don't like certain textures.  Strong smells both good and bad can offend their nose.  There are a host of medical reasons which also may explain why a person is picky.

Picky Planners

When certain dishes you make are repeatedly turned down, offer a compromise.  You don't like what I make, then you cook!  This usually gets attention right away, especially if the picky person is a child.  "I don't know how to cook," they say.  Teach them.

Get a child involved in the kitchen.  By giving them a task, no matter how small, will make them feel important.  Whether they stir, mix or measure, they are taking part in the meal creation.  When a child has an active part in a project, they tend to seem more receptive to eating it.  They have a natural curiosity to taste their work. 

An adult can learn to be appreciative in your cooking efforts.  They may not realize the time spent in poring over cookbooks looking for new and fun dishes that don't contain their revolting ingredient.  Give them a chance to make a week's worth of meals without onions, dairy, flour, seafood or whatever the taboo item is.  Anybody can do it for a day, so make the challenge big to include a whole week's worth.

Children can also help with meal planning.  Give them a cookbook with pictures and let them page through it.  Have them mark pictures they like with a sticky note, and go back through them together if they cannot read.  Explain what the dish is and all of the ingredients.  If they still think it sounds OK, put it on the menu and buy the ingredients.

Set up a family menu.  Place a piece of paper on the refrigerator listing what every meal will be that week.  Leave flexibility for ordering out, or eating on the go to and from practices.  Remind everyone what the meal planned for the next day is so they are prepared in their mind.  It can give them 24 hours to get all of the "Oh yucks" out so they are ready to eat when the time comes. 

Half the battle is vegetables.  Kids eat almost every kind smashed and watered down as babies, but there is this invisible line they cross in childhood where they stop eating them.  Try small portions and work your way up.  Even if they won't eat them, put a couple on their plate.  Seeing them on their plate will keep it in their mind they need to eat it for a balanced diet.  Eventually it might work and they end up eating the vegetables and everything else in sight as teenagers.

Information is for educational and informational purposes only and is not be interpreted as financial or legal advice. This does not represent a recommendation to buy, sell, or hold any security. Please consult your financial advisor.