Kids are notorious for their picky eating habits. Anything from a new texture to a bright color or even an unfamiliar name can put the brakes on an otherwise delicious family dinner. If you’re wishing your kids would adventure outside of traditional “kid foods” like chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese, you aren’t alone. Rome wasn’t built in a day, so don’t expect your littles to be ordering sushi or Brussels sprouts on their own right away, but there are some tricks you can try to start broadening their horizons.
1. Start with tasting
Serving an entire entree featuring a new food and hoping for the best is ambitious to say the least. Consider offering a bite off of your plate, or, create a sample plate for your kids to try before the meal even starts. Knowing that tasting is technically optional and offering new foods when they're hungry will set you up for greater success.
2. Explain what to expect
The riskiest part of trying something new is not knowing what to expect. Fear of the unknown is totally reasonable but you can help make the first bite a little less scary. When you offer a taste, explain what to expect in terms of taste, texture and even smell. It can be extremely helpful to compare the new food to something they’ve tasted before or a texture they’re familiar with. Knowing when a crunch or a more slippery texture is coming makes a taste easier to say "yes" to.
3. Be transparent
It may be tempting to find ways to “sneak in” vegetables or other more adventurous foods. While this probably will work for a while, your kids are eventually going to find out that the green “stuff” in their quesadilla is actually broccoli and when they do, they'll have a hard time trusting the things you’re putting on their plate. If they ask what’s in something, simply tell them and keep it moving. You might be met with a few “ewwwws!” but if you explain what it will be like, they still might give it a go.
4. Mix it up!
Once you find a few healthy things your kids will eat consistently, it can be tempting to make the same stuff all the time. If it’s not broken, don’t fix it, right? Well, when it comes to food, catering to your kids’ preferences without challenging them will eventually make it even harder to introduce anew foods in the future. Get into the habit of introducing new things on a rotating basis. Alternate familiar foods with new ones so they don't know what to expect next.
5. Include them in the process
Consider inviting your kids be a part of the shopping and cooking process. When you’re at the grocery store, let them pick out a new fruit or vegetable that they haven’t tried and learn to make it together. Or, if you’re trying a new meal that may be a little outside of their comfort zone, invite them to help out in the kitchen. When kids get involved in the cooking process, there’s a good chance they’ll become interested in trying the meal you’re making together.
If you’re ordering Terra’s Kitchen, having your kids unpack the vessel when it arrives is a great way to get them involved, even if they’re too young to be helping cook. Ask them to guess or tell you what they think each ingredient is as they unload the drawers. Then, offer a taste of anything that might be new and let us know how it goes!