Is picky eating a struggle in your house? Let’s chat about strategies for picky families so that you can go from stressed around meals, so cool as a cucumber. Make mealtimes relaxing and FUN again!
Strategies for picky families
Today we are talking about a topic I chat with a lot of my mama friends about: picky families, picky kids… even picky husbands. I’ll be sharing helpful strategies and ideas if you’re in that boat and feeling frustration around mealtimes.
It can feel so frustrating…
Pickiness or people just refusing your food is frustrating. I have made many meals that at least one of my 4 kids has not been very excited about. Or my husband. I can definitely think of a few that he did not like (they weren’ very good so I’ll give him that).
When you put effort into a meal and then someone just turns their nose up at it – that is frustrating! But here is a huge tip to help you win in that situation.
Take the emotion out of it.
It doesn’t benefit anyone if we are yelling at the person to “try this food!” We’re going to get stressed out. They are going to feel that tension and it’s ultimately not going to make for a positive space for a family meal.
Preferences do not equal picky families
One thing to remember is that everyone has their own preferences. I know my husband does not like sweet potatoes, even as much as I love sweet potatoes. I would love to have them every day, but I don’t… because I’m a nice wife.
I’m not going to force it on him. I’ve tried many times in the past to sneak it in, but he always finds it. So I try and honor everyones preferences. There are foods I don’t prefer and I would be annoyed if I was constantly being offered those foods.
Exposure is still important
Do remember, it’s good to expose your children and your family to different foods. Just acknowledge that everyone has a difference taste profile that they love.
Let’s chat strategies for picky families
We’re not going to get emotional. We’re not going to get stressed. We are going to allow our family members to have their own taste preferences.
Here’s a strategy that you can use if mealtime is so frustrating that you just want to throw in the towel every night and buy a frozen pizza. This takes a little thinking on your part.
Figure out a base meal
What is a base meal that everyone in your family can get behind? Maybe it’s tacos?? Or taco meat? You know that everyone loves the taco meat, for example. Let’s build a meal around that.
The taco meat is in the center, and then we add options around it. Maybe we add rice, or tortillas, or beans, cheese, lettuce, tomato, avocado, cilantro… think of all those different components that you can include. Then we let everyone pick what they want to add onto their plate.
This is opposite of say a casserole, where it has everything mixed together. Keep all the foods compartmentalized so everyone can pick what they want.
What about balance?
You might be feeling like you really want everyone to get a good balanced meal. However, I want you to ask this: is it worth it if you’re stressed and your family members are not really eating it? Let’s try and bring a little more joy into dinnertime by reducing everyone’s stress.
We chatted about tacos, but let’s talk about different examples. Maybe your family likes pesto chicken or pesto salmon. They like pesto on a protein. How can you build a meal around that protein and give options for them to choose?
Maybe you add a side of roasted potatoes, or roasted broccoli, or a salad. It’s really easy to add a raw vegetables on the side. Offer that variety. They will see it and be exposed to it. When they are in a less stressed or pressure filled space, maybe they’ll try it.
Modeling is super important for kids. Modeling the way we want kids to be around food matters. My kids are much more likely to want to take food off of my plate.
If I’m trying a new food or I make a smoothie and I want to have it all to myself, you better believe they always want it. If we want to expose our children to foods we need to also be the example of enjoying them ourselves.
Include a food they do like at meals
A strategy I often use for dinnertime with us is to serve fruit with dinner. My kids are young and fruit is always a win around here.
I have a daughter that just doesn’t like potatoes. In all forms. She doesn’t like french fries, mashes potatoes or roasted potatoes. Sometimes she’ll eat tater tots, but we also don’t have those very often.
We still eat potatoes at dinner though. Since I know she’ll just try a bite and not eat a lot, I offer fruit there so that she can feel like she’s getting a win at the dinner table.
It’s really nice to give your kids a win at dinner time, so always include at least one component at the dinner table they they are familiar with. That way not every food presented is new. They can feel comfortable because there is something on the table that they have seen, liked and tried.
Add variety in slowly
My last and final tip is to increase variety very slowly. Let’s look at a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, for example. Maybe you want to swap the jam or nut butter. And they notice.
A strategy is to slowly decrease the amount of peanut butter and increase the amount of almond butter, for example. Over time, the ratio changes with more almond butter, and less peanut butter. This allows their taste buds to very slowly change and adjust.
If you love the idea of adding more variety slowly, I’ve got more on that topic coming very soon!
Looking for more resources to help with meal planning and feeding your family? Check out these posts:
- How to take stress out of feeding your family
- How to meal plan
- Should you meal plan?
- My meal planning secret weapon
Prefer to watch + listen? Head to YouTube to watch the strategies for picky families the video.
How are mealtimes in your house? Do you have picky eating that you’re working through?
I’d love to know! Leave a comment below! Any more questions? I’m here to answer them!