How to encourage your picky eater kids to eat healthy


Many parents with young kids like to encourage healthy eating at home. Research as shown that many kids who help with cooking at home, tend to eat healthier and home cooked meals as a grown up too. This strategy may work with a very picky eater, who will not eat many things, but if he has helped with cooking process, he will show an interest to eating a vegetable that he never has tried before. Our team members are parents who have used this technique with their kids with much success.

The key is to start small, have safe kitchen tools and work area with supervision with kids of younger age. Here are a few ways cooking and feeding your picky eaters to eat healthy food and ask for seconds.

1. Go food store or farmer market together.

Spend time and explain different various fruits, vegetables and other food choices. If they have questions about anything they see, try to answer if you know it. If you do not know, say so and try to ask someone who is working there for answers. Let them explore and touch and smell produce if it is allowed. Make it is laid back trip, it might be time consuming at first but it will be worth it.

2. Have a few kids friendly recipes in mind

Have a recipes of two in mind and depending on produce choices, you can make something together at home, which is not only healthy, but easy and kid friendly to make. Kids usually tend to like macaroni, pasta, pizza, quesedilla and other finger foods that can easily be held by small hand and fingers. As a parent you can always make pizza and pasta healthy by adding less fat and more vegetables and some herbs. Some ideas on kids meals

  • Finger food or easy to hold
  • Not spicy hot, but add lemon, ginger, cinnamon, cilantro type of spices and herbs to jazz it up
  • Make fun food that are healthy but looks kind of fun!
  • Try to cook one meal for whole family, instead of 4 for each ones, you will be tired.
  • Recipe should not include flame or fire, or handled  by adults
  • Experiment and have patience

Here are a few great suggestions on kid friendly recipe ideas;

1. Recipe Delights for Children:
2. Toddler Café: Fast, Healthy, and Fun Ways to Feed Even the Pickiest Eater
3. Real Food for Healthy Kids: 200+ Easy, Wholesome Recipes

3.  Have kid friendly equipment and tools that will make him/her special.

Although it is not always necessary some small tools and apron will make your child like a special chef and have great enthusiasm to actually go through cooking process. Have safety first in mind and be always present and handle hot water and oven cooking yourself. Have your child cut vegetables with either butter knife or special kids knife that is not too sharp.

Here are some of the things we have for our little chefs in our special kid chef box, feel free to add or take away per your child’s need.

  • Measuring spoons and cups
  • Wooden spoons
  • Small Apron or old t-shirt to keep inside clothes cleaner
  • Plastic paring knife or butter knife
  • Small cutting board
  • Rubber spatula
  • Small colorful plastic mixing bowls to place cut food in
  • Wooden or card box or one drawer to keep all things in it
  • A couple of wash napkins
  • Plastic colorful plates and spoons, forks to eat their masterpiece food in it.

If you like, there are some inexpensive and ready made kids cooking set, that they will love cooking in it. Here are a few that we like;

1. Sassafras Little Cook Kid’s Kitchen Tool Kit
2. Furi Rachael Ray Young Cooks 3-Piece Knife Set
3. Kiddie Bake Set of 9

4. Assemble and Prepare in advance

Assemble the items first before starting a cooking process with your little chefs. Read recipe together to make sure you know steps and you can look up as needed during the prep work and cooking process. Decide which steps your child can do or which one you will be doing with his/her help.

You may want to add any equipment from your own kitchen that you want your child to have in addition to their tool set such safe ones like a melon baller, rolling pin, whisk. Make sure your child and tool have enough space to keep and work with all small kitchen tools. You may want him or her to stand on a chair to reach counter space, if they need.

5. Make it fun and Have lot of patience

First time will probably most hardest but it does get lot easier as your child learns more. Make whole cooking process seem like fun otherwise neither of you will do it again. Do not worry about the kitchen or any mess for now, those skills can be cultivated later. Right now, just enjoy special time and cooking together.

My mom and I share special bonding time now when we cook together, that is something to look forward to.

6. Show off your proud child’s master piece

Show off his help and process (even though he/she might have screwed up steps or two) to your spouse, relatives and friends alike. Tell him/her how proud you are of him and let him explain how did he learn so much and so quick, not a flattering but as a really genuine praise. Take pictures on your digital camera or video to share your child’s cooking with grandparents!

Enjoy your cooked meal together and Repeat process with more vegetables and healthy stuff next time. It works, we know it. Good luck!


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