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I have choosy eaters in my family and often end up making more than one meal. How can I avoid this?

young boy being a choosy eater

Managing choosy eaters can be challenging, especially for those in charge of preparing family meals. Try these strategies for streamlining meal preparation and reducing the need to make multiple meals, while also satisfying individual mealtime desires.

Plan meals with flexibility

Choose meals that can easily be customized or adapted to suit different preferences. For example, tacos, salads, grain bowls and pasta dishes can be assembled with a variety of toppings or mix-ins, allowing each family member to create their own personalized meal.

Offer “build-your-own” options

Set up a DIY meal station where your choosy eaters can build their own plates or bowls using a selection of ingredients. For example, you could offer a taco bar with various fillings, toppings and sauces, or a baked potato bar with different toppings like cheese, sour cream, bacon and vegetables.

Rotate favourite meals

Identify meals that everyone enjoys (or at least tolerates), and incorporate them into your meal rotation regularly. This way, you can ensure that there’s always something on the table that everyone will eat.

Sneak in hidden veggies

Look for creative ways to incorporate vegetables into meals without drawing attention to them. For example, blend vegetables into sauces, soups, or smoothies, or add them to dishes like casseroles or pasta sauces.

Encourage trying new foods

Encourage family members to try small portions of new or unfamiliar foods without pressuring them to eat a full serving. Offer a variety of foods regularly and be patient as tastes may change over time.

Involve choosy eaters in meal planning

Get input from family members when planning meals to ensure that everyone’s preferences are taken into account. Encourage them to suggest recipes or ingredients they’d like to try, and involve them in meal preparation when possible. Let family members know that while their input is valued, you won’t always be able to accommodate every request such as mac and cheese every night!

Be consistent

Stick to your meal plan and avoid giving in to demands for alternative meals at the last minute. Consistency can help establish expectations and encourage family members to be more flexible with their eating habits.

By implementing some of these strategies, you can simplify mealtime and meal preparation and reduce the stress and frustration of catering to picky eaters while ensuring everyone gets a satisfying and nutritious meal.

a man carrying two children

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