It’s no secret that kids can be incredibly picky eaters, sometimes for seemingly no reason! It can be challenging to get kids to try new foods, and it can also be hard to get them to eat things they’ve had a bad experience with before.
This issue is compounded for families with tight finances because feeding picky kids can quickly become expensive. So trying to figure out alternative options for your fussy children and stay within your budget can be tricky. Still, there are some tips you can try to satisfy your picky eaters without breaking the bank. If you want to implement these tips into your own meals, keep reading to learn more.
Involve Kids in Cooking
Having your kids involved in your cooking can help them better understand the kinds of meals they’re eating. In addition, when your kids watch you cook or feel as though they are cooking their own meal, they may feel like they have more control over what is going into their bodies.
By seeing everything that goes into the preparations of their meal, they won’t need to question whether or not you have included an ingredient they don’t like. Nothing will be mysterious for them, and they will probably be more likely to eat.
See also: Budget-friendly Ways to Meal Prep
Keep Meals Simple
Like the last point, picky eaters will want to know exactly what’s in their food with no surprises. So keeping your meals simple with few ingredients may help your kids feel more inclined to eat what you cook. When your kids don’t need to wonder what’s in their food, they can feel more confident about mealtimes.
A lot of picky eating comes from a fear of the unknown. Cooking with a few familiar ingredients can help you to avoid this dilemma. And having fewer ingredients in your meals will also keep your grocery bill lower.
“Make Your Own” Meals
“Make your own” meals typically include things like:
- Taco and salad bars
- Omelet station
For building your own pizzas, you can serve kids pitas, English muffins, or tortillas and allow them to place as much tomato sauce and shredded cheese on top as they would like. Additionally, you can prompt them to try something fun, like making a face on their pizza out of veggies.
You can cook up a protein (turkey, chicken, ground beef) for a taco bar and serve it alongside veggies, cheese, and sauces with tortillas or taco shells. Let them make their own and see if this activity encourages trying new things. Don’t push; just make ingredients available.
Serve Water or Milk With Meals
Water is the best beverage for kids (and adults) because it is plain and doesn’t cause cavities. Additionally, water has no calories, so it won’t fill your kids up before eating. And it will not upset a child’s stomach.
Water is especially good to serve with meals if your kids are sensitive to dairy products or are lactose intolerant. If you give picky eaters beverages like soda or juice with their meals, the sugar can lead to cavities, energy rushes, or sugar dependence. If you want to give your kids juice or they refuse water, try diluting the juice with water before giving it to them. This will also save money. And of course, plain water is healthy, essential, and the cheapest option!
Picky eating is a bad habit that needs to be broken over time, and giving a picky eater new foods or simple meals will not “cure” them overnight. If they are very picky eaters, the reality is that your children will probably refuse many different foods.
You might think you have made the best possible meal, and your picky eater might reject it. Even if it’s a food they’ve enjoyed before, your offspring might refuse it. The key with fussy eaters is to try, try, and try again. Keep offering healthy, new options. Don’t give in or give up because it will only worsen the habit.
Micro-Portion New Foods
“Micro-portioning” is when you give kids only the tiniest amounts of food to try so you know if they will eat it or not. Giving kids micro-portions prevents food waste and keeps your grocery bill low. Micro-portioning also allows you to buy smaller portions of food at the store in case your child doesn’t end up liking it. Plus, your child will at least get to taste something new, and often that is half the battle.
Don’t Always Buy Organic
Buying organic food is great, but it can quickly rack up your grocery bill. Since organic food is inherently more expensive, it isn’t always in your best interest to buy it. In addition, some foods don’t need to be organic for you to receive the same health benefits and safety. These include onions, sweet corn, avocados, asparagus, and more.
Organic food and conventional food all look the same when you cut them open. So knowing when you can say no to organic food can help save your budget and leave you more wiggle room for your picky eater.
Many picky eaters will become frustrated when different foods touch each other or mix together on their plates. This is an issue that seems meaningless but can be easily avoided.
Instead of putting your child’s entire meal all together on one plate, serve them two or three small bowls or plates where all of the parts of their meal are separate. This way, your child will not risk mixing their food and becoming frustrated. While it might be annoying, separating foods may actually prevent you from creating more food waste.
You may also like: 5 Ways To Teach Your Kids About Money
Know The Basics
Picky eaters will often request specific, basic meals. Whether this meal is a burger, chicken nuggets, french fries, or buttered noodles, you need to have these basic meals on deck. When you or your child has had a difficult day, it is best to allow them these comfort meals.
Perfect these meals, so they are made the same way with the same ingredients each time. This is not the time to throw in creative variations. That way, you have a go-to that your child will not refuse. Some days, you need to accept that food is food, and having them eat something is better than nothing at all.
Let Kids Play With Their Food
No, really! At first, when you give your child a new food or one they are unfamiliar with, they might not want to eat it. Instead, they might pick it up with their hands, pull it apart, smell it, or move it around on their plate.
Don’t chastise them for this! Instead, let them explore the new food and become more familiar with it. Then, even though they may not end up putting the food in their mouth, they at least have a better idea of the texture, feel, and smell of the food and will probably be more likely to try it next time.
Stick With It
Having picky eaters in your home is very difficult and can leave mealtime feeling like a battlefield. Fortunately, with some practice, new foods, consistent meals, and general understanding, you can get through to your picky eaters without needing to break your budget. Hopefully, these tips will help your children find foods they enjoy!