Most families have at least one – someone who eats to the beat of their own culinary drummer. A picky eater can be the bane of your existence if you have limited time to prepare alternate meals and just want everyone to eat the same thing. Here are a few strategies to help you “stomach” your way through having a picky eater at your table:
- Always offer them the regular meal – Even if it has to be on a separate plate, everyone should be served some of of what the main meal is. It’s easier to encourage them to take a sample bit if it is in front of them.
- Have them eat their age – Encourage your picky eater to try to eat new foods by having them eat an equivalent number of bites to their age. You can spread this across several different foods on their plate or have it be the same number from each dish.
- Keep the alternates simple – If your picky eater isn’t eating what you are serving, don’t do back flips to create their favorite dish. Keep the alternates easy to prepare and, if possible, something that they can be have some or all responsibility for putting together. For younger kids, this might mean taking the cereal out of the pantry. For older kids, help them learn how to heat up those chicken nuggets.
- Incorporate ther favorite foods into the menu – This can range from making an entire meal that caters to your picky eater or creating variations of their favorite foods that are more palatable to the rest of the family. For example, a basic mac and cheese can be jazzed up with mix-ins like peas, fake meat, or even a little liquid smoke and sirachi.
Arryos (These are pita stuffed with meat and grilled and have become a common Israeli street food. We learned about them with our community’s amazing shaliach in a pandemic cooking lesson.), roasted Brussel sprouts (throwing these in the air fryer keeps the over free for other foods and gives them a nice crunch without overcooking), French fries (also making them in the air fryer)
Oh, and a platter of fried chicken just showed up at our door. I love our neighbors!
Crispy beach fish tacos (We love fish tacos. They are just a yummy, easy way to get fish into the kids), Mexican rice (we have a go-to recipe for this dish, but I’m intrigued by this bean infused version), Mexican coleslaw with cilantro-lime dressing (skip the cilantro if it tastes like soap to you, otherwise this is a yummy side dish to have with your fish tacos).
Shakshouka (I’ll prep the sauce by tossing whatever leftover vegetables are in the fridge along with some canned crushed tomatoes and then letting the Instant Pot and my immersion blender work their magic), cheesy eggs (for the one child who refuses to eat shakshouka), French toast casserole (this is a simple version of French toast without all of the dipping in egg and frying. You can mix frozen fruit or chocolate chips into it to kick it up a notch.), salad
French onion soup (love making this in the Instant Pot – flavors are so rich! And it can sit over Shabbat if anyone wants more), candied turkey, butternut squash soufflé, roast asparagus, Israeli couscous
Split pea soup, bagels & lox, spinach quiche*