Quick & Easy Meals for Picky Kids

Whether you ate everything your parents put in front of you or picked and chose what you consumed, you want your own picky eater to enjoy a wide range of foods and a healthfully balanced diet. Some food-acceptance tactics achieve the opposite result. To encourage your child to experiment widely and accept new foods, use an indirect approach that focuses on serving viable choices and providing dinner-table options.

Real Choices

Invite your child into the kitchen while you're chopping ingredients for a soup you'll simmer on your range's induction cooktop or one of two dishes you'll prepare simultaneously in its split oven cavity. Show him the uncut vegetables and the chopped results, correlating them with the dish you'll serve at mealtime. You can increase the odds that he tries something new if you avoid placing it next to foods he loves. When you prepare new foods, avoid cooking techniques that produce results with odd textures—slimy or mushy, for example—as these may present unappealing sensations in his mouth. Withholding dessert unless your child tries something new won't translate into a lasting love of the new food.

Colors & Smells

An over-the-range microwave oven that doubles as a vented range hood can whisk away the scent of broccoli, asparagus or other foods that may discourage a picky eater because of their smells. Place a pinch of spice into a bowl of water and heat it briefly in the microwave—without venting it—to produce a pleasant aroma that's still food related. Use your child's love of bright colors and interesting shapes to heighten the chances that your picky eater digs in to the food on his plate. If he likes one food of a specific color, offer another of the same hue, moving from carrots to squash, for example. Cookie cutters produce shaped servings that add visual interest.

Family-Style Servings

Whether you offer freshly sliced vegetables straight from a temperature-controlled drawer in your refrigerator and a set of tasty dips to liven up carrot sticks or cucumber slices, or you use the fan-forced hot air from your range's true convection oven to prepare a casserole, you can add new dishes to the options you provide. Set out food family style, simplifying mealtime with self-serve options that encourage your picky eater to broaden his food horizons. Assemble your own plate with some of everything you serve and don't hide your enjoyment of the full range of foods. If you urge your child to eat foods he sees you skip, he's likely to follow your lead.

Learning to Like Vegetables

To take some of the mystery out of vegetables you'd like your children to try, show them information about these foods on your tablet, including "glamorous" pictures that make them look like enticing choices. Remember that although children intrinsically enjoy fruits, they must learn to like vegetables. Photograph veggies at the grocery store, using your smartphone to build a library of images you can use to familiarize your child with their appearance, or use your digital camera to capture images of the ingredients you bring home from the store, turning them into characters with clever names. You can include your child in the photo fun and use these images to help him choose a new food to try.

Photo Credits: Pamela Follett/Demand Media

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