This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Hebrew National. The opinions and text are all mine.
When you have picky eaters, planning dinner can be stressful.
And isn’t life stressful enough without throwing that added difficulty into the mix? I remember one afternoon when the kids were little, I sat at the kitchen table for 45 minutes simply crossing things OFF the dinner list because one (or more) of my family members won’t eat that item!
There are many different ways to handle the situation, and we’ve partnered with Hebrew National to share some tips for picky eaters from our own experiences. Do you make something special for your child to ensure they’ll eat? There have been many days when I feel like a short-order cook! Making this for one and that for another…the one benefit of that is that by the time everyone has eaten, the left-overs are like a buffet for mom!
Do you stand your ground and force them to eat something they may not like? I promised I would never do this to my kids! I remember as a child sitting at a table for 3 hours because I refused to eat garbanzo beans. My mother remembers this story differently! Oh, and I kinda like garbanzo beans now…so there is hope!
I was a picky eater. My husband was a picky eater. I guess there is no surprise that our offspring would follow suit!
It is always surprising WHAT they get picky about. All these foods at one time have been on the no-eat list: bread, cheese, peanut butter, grape jelly, vegetables (except corn), apple sauce, cereal and ketchup (which he calls sauce). We aren’t even talking garbanzos!
This is why it was important to solve the picky eater dilemma and get EVERYONE to the table.
Tips for Picky Eaters
These are things that worked for us. If you could share what works at your house in the comments below, you might really help another family!
Offer limited choices. I’ve found that with my strong-willed son, simply giving him a choice eliminates the battle. If I force him to eat something straight from the pan, chances are he will refuse. But if he gets to decide what toppings or flavors go on his plate, he’s a happy camper. What grandma used to say, “They will get hungry sometime,” is true!
Keep food on-hand that they like. We keep simple things he can make himself for lunch or a snack, like Hebrew National, in the fridge and pantry. This gives him even more choice throughout the day, and allows him to eat foods he likes for breakfast and lunch. Then, if he isn’t thrilled about the recipe I’ve made for dinner, I don’t worry that he’ll go hungry. This also helps them be more independent making food choices. When you control the “choices”, you know that it is good food.
Set expectations. Before dinner, I tell my son how much I expect him to eat. If he knows going in that he needs to eat all of his entree, he can prepare himself for that. Sometimes the thought of eating an entire plate is overwhelming for him, so knowing what’s expected beforehand can really help. Offer an age-appropriate portion size to start the meal.
Maintain a meal routine. I know this seems obvious because we generally have a three-meal day, but keeping snacking and meals on a regular schedule can help keep kids hungry at the “right” time. One thing I have noticed with my older kids is they start roaming around the kitchen about an hour before dinner. If I let them snack at that time, then they hardly touch what I have made.
Get them involved in dinner process. Having kids help plan, grocery shop, and make meals can invest them in the dinner. It is a natural next step to eat! Kids find it fun to have a meal to plan or be given the choice of a side-dish or entree. My kids also love grocery shopping — it is like a treasure hunt! Making dinner is an adventure too…in fact, getting kids to participate makes it more fun for everyone.
Don’t control what they eat. I have learned to put food on the table that is good and let the rest happen organically! It takes the stress off of me and stops me from telling people to eat. It makes dinner a much happier place! I can’t make someone like something, but when good food is presented multiple times without pressure, sometimes magical things happen…like they eat it!
Our Favorite Meal for Picky Eaters
I make simple recipes for dinner, like Hebrew National offered with a toppings bar. Hebrew National are made with 100% beef and are a great alternative to the high-in-carbs meals and snacks that my kids tend to eat throughout the day.
Making this meal a “topping bar” can be fun for the whole family. Each person can customize what they want and I am always surprised how each person’s choices are so different.
Hebrew National Toppings Bar Ideas:
- Sweet Relish
- Chopped Onions
- Barbecue Sauce
Prepare the Hebrew National on the grill, in the oven or on the stove, then place in a bun.
Serve with toppings in individual containers, and allow everyone to choose what to add to their plate.
We started with a few suggestions, but have your family get involved in choosing other toppings. My son loves this meal — sometimes he’ll add pickles, sometimes he’ll go for tomatoes. But never “sauce” — we’ve just got to pick our battles, right?!