“Sunshine and mac and cheese!” That was my response to a friend that hasn’t seen my son in a few months and was shocked to see how he’s recently shot up in height. All I could say is “It must be sunshine and mac and cheese because that’s all this kid needs to grow.” The truth is, my boy should be a shade of orange because his diet consists mainly of orange colored food: peanut butter, mac and cheese, chicken nuggets, and cheese sticks. The kid likes what he likes. Now my daughter is my adventurous eater. She’s willing to try everything I put on her plate, and she likes to take salads and hummus with her to preschool. Seriously, who is this kid?
Is there anything that makes a mother’s heart sing more than seeing her kids eat well? No one wants to fight with their kids every single meal to eat and we want them to grow up and make healthy food choices on their own. My mission is to get creative, get this boy to try some new foods, and to show him a veggie will not kill him.
Here’s what we’re doing in this house to get a little more adventurous with our eating with my Mom Hacks for Picky Eaters
Try It Tuesday and New Food Friday- Everyone gets something new or an old favorite made a new way. on their plate. On these days, we all have to try at least three bites, even Mom and Dad. We make it a game and then celebrate when we all take at least three bites.
Small scoops- When we’re trying new foods, we start with tiny bites. So rather than dumping a pile of peas on my son’s plate, I give him two or three to start. Imagine being a kid and your mom is making you try new food and there is a gigantic mountain of green stuff that looks and smells sketchy. However, two or three green things, not so bad.
Tiny Chefs- My kids really love cooking with me, and when dinnertime is a bit crazy, I give them something simple to make together: fruit salad, salad, or even a dessert. They LOVE cooking and are always willing to try what they’ve made.
All in the Family- Rather than fixing their plates for them, I’ve been putting all the food in serving dishes and serving dinner family style. I didn’t know if this would work, but my kids are happily eating more food. They like feeling independent and I’m happy when they're taking second helpings of fruit and veggies.
Dip Baby Dip- Since peanut butter is a major food group in this house, I’m OK with my kids dipping just about anything in peanut butter. Same goes for hummus, Greek yogurt, ketchup, or ranch dressing. Before serving dinner, I put a few dips in fun bowls and the kids can dip their fruit and veggies to hold them over before dinner. Now my anti-veggie son is willing to eat those veggies because they are a vehicle for getting to eat more of his favorite dips.
Meal Planners- Invite your kids to do the meal planning with you. Let them mix and match the fruits and veggies with each day of the week with no repeats. Both of my kids liked taking charge of a day and I found them more willing to try the foods they were picking. Here’s a sample planning chart.
Hide It- You think that’s just pizza right? (Insert Evil Laugh) I added pureed spinach! I have to be creative and sneaky and this does take a lot more planning, but the blender is getting lots of use and I feel better knowing there is zucchini in his blueberry muffins.
There are lots of battles I'm willing to take on as a mom like you must wear pants in public and you cannot blow your nose in my shirt, but a fight at every single meal is not one of them. So smell you later, mealtime struggles, because these kids have some carrots to eat. There's probably peanut butter on the carrots, but they're eating the carrots!
This post comes from the TODAY Parenting Team community, where all members are welcome to post and discuss parenting solutions. Learn more and join us! Because we're all in this together.