N. Leigh Dunlap


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Got a picky eater at home?

Kids complaining about what’s for dinner, or generally unappreciative about the effort that goes into it? One way to make an impact and encourage them to experiment is to get them involved in meal planning as well as meal preparation.

At the store, allow each child to pick out 2-3 vegetables and fruits that they will try during the coming week. Join them at the computer and search the internet for a recipe, then schedule it in; mark the day clearly on the calendar along with the name of the child “sponsoring” that meal. Build anticipation by letting the kids do a little decorating for the meal, be it choosing the tablecloth and dishes or making a centerpiece.

If your child reads, let him scan the ingredients and direct family members to get them. Next, let him assign tasks like measuring, chopping and stirring. If your child doesn’t read, go over the list and ask her to find each item. Approach it like a scavenger hunt then, let her have as much control in the kitchen as you can stand.

Put on some music, lay out drop cloths if you must, and get down to it. Things will likely get noisy and almost certainly messy (that’s okay – the kids can help with cleanup, too) but if you’ve had time to prepare yourself, it can also be a good deal of fun.

Most kids enjoy playing waiter so, when it’s time to serve it up, indulge them, Provide a dishtowel (for draping over one arm) and a pitcher for serving water. There is every chance that after all this, your kids will still take no more than a “no thank you” bite. But each time kids taste something new, their repertoire expands. And if they’ve been involved in the entire process, they may develop a taste for that as well. At the very least, they’ll be more appreciative.

Kids:

Want to invent your own recipe? Start with a list of things you like – pasta, cheese, broccilli, olives, etc. Then try to imagine how some of them might taste together. If it sounds good, try it (that’s what chefs do!).

Did you know:

Most kids need to sample (and probably hate) a new food item 3-4 times before developing a taste for it. So, the more often you try new foods, the sooner you’ll discover your new favorite food.