My kids are opposites when it comes to trying new things. One child will try any dish on the menu (even if she doesn’t end up liking it). My other child, is unfortunately more like me. He does not like getting out of his food comfort zone. It’s been quite the process of trial and error, but we’ve finally found some things that work for us so that everyone is happy at meal time.
TAKE THEM TO A BUFFET
I love buffets. I try whatever it is that looks good. I oftentimes find something new to enjoy.
Had I not taken my daughter to a buffet, I would have never known that my daughter likes sushi and mushrooms. Salmon would have never been a on my menu to serve my son. We’ve been to quite a few buffets and I usually always come away with at least one new dinner idea.
When we go to a buffet, we make it a game called, “try something else”. The cool thing is if they don’t like any of the things they haven’t tried before, they can always go back to something nutritious that they like. Everyone leaves happy.
TAKE THEM GROCERY SHOPPING
If your kids are like mine, they are much more likely to eat what they pick out, including veggies. I let them know they are going to be helping me with the meal plan and they are all for it. They know if I buy it, they have to eat it. That requirement has really helped us to cut down on the amount of food that is wasted at our house.
For me, cooking with my kids is a great way to spend time with them. They like mixing the ingredients and learning how the meal comes together. They also understand that it takes work to prepare a meal.
COMMIT TO TRY NEW THINGS
I am now committed to trying at least one new recipe every week. Your kids are watching you. They may be less likely to try new things because they never see you trying anything new. I have to admit, that I’m not a huge risk-taker when it comes to food. But when it comes to the little ones, I’m willing to try just about anything.
I recently made a recipe that called for roasted parsnips. I never had parsnips and if it hadn’t been a recipe ingredient, I probably would not have tried them. And what do you know, my daughter loves parsnips! I made half of the serving size because I didn’t think anyone else would like them. I ended up having to make the other half.
DON’T MAKE YOUR MENU THEIR MENU
It’s easy for me to make dinner based on the things that I like. If I like it, I figured that they would like it too. I love Chinese food and my son doesn’t want anything to do with it. My daughter wants nothing to do with hamburgers (what kid doesn’t like hamburgers?).
Anyway, if I fixed my children only what I liked, I would have robbed them of foods they love like collard greens, salmon, sauerkraut (yes, sauerkraut), and sushi.
HAVE A FAMILY VOTE
There are many nights that we don’t agree on what we will have for dinner. I know most parents will say just put food on the table and they will eat it or starve, but I could never bring myself to go that route.
Most nights, I’ll give them two choices and we’ll vote. The next night, the “loser” from the night before gets to choose what we have. Then the process starts over.
I have found that the more food options that I give my children, the more likely they are to eat what’s on their plates.
Preparing meals used to be a huge chore for me. Tweaking how I approached things has changed our worlds for the better. I can now make healthy, quick meals that the kids will like. I still have nights where the kids act as though I’m serving them poison, but we’ve made progress!
What do you do to make sure your kids eat their dinner? I’d love to hear your thoughts.