We all know how complicated and frustrating it could be to feed our children.
Some can be very picky, others don’t seem too interested in food all together and going through a whole meal could be a real struggle for many mums.
Elizabeth Pantley’s book ‘The No-Cry Picky Eater Solution’ tackles this exact issue and it’s full of strategies, advice and tips that could solve the problem forever. One of the solutions that the author suggests is the ‘themed meal’. The idea is to establish, day by day, a theme for the main meal which in most cases would be dinner, as the whole family is likely to gather around the same table.
To get you started you need to identify what are the dishes your kids like the most, the ones they eat without enthusiasm and those which if they could be fired in the cosmos, never to return, they would be shipped immediately on a shuttle.
Unfortunately, you can’t always cook what your kids love but you can try one of the tricks below to make the unpopular dishes more palatable.
Find two or three ‘fun’ situations which may involve the kids
Obviously you have to assess the age and abilities of each child. For example, one evening you can play ‘the restaurant game’. Dad can be the waiter and you the cook, while the children are the patrons.
If you have the time, you can write the menu with your children beforehand and get them to write the dish of the day. The kids can sit at the table while the waiter / dad takes their orders.
Involve children in the preparation of the meal
Choose simple recipes or give them easy tasks to help you. Encourage them and underline how crucial their contribution in the preparation of the meal is.
– Once a week or every 2 weeks, treat them to a delicious meal: order pizza, or any other take away you know they will appreciate.
– One day you could swap the meals around and have breakfast in the evening instead of the morning.
– One night you could set the table only for them, maybe a small coffee table if you’ve got one in the house. Once they’ve eaten and gone to bed … mom and dad can have their dinner by candlelight!
Make small portions
You can buy bespoke plates for children that are provided with different compartments for different foods: you could prepare a teaspoon of pasta, half a carrot sliced into tiny sticks, a tablespoon of puree and fruit already peeled and diced … Seeing so many little things could entice the little one into tasting everything.
– Prepare a series of small bowls with different types of food in each one: cubes of cheese, carrots cut into sticks, another with peas, another with eggs, one with cucumbers, tomatoes and so on. Then give a saucer to your child and ask him to pick the ingredients in front of him to make a smiley face, a tree or a flower. Once you have put together the ‘drawing’, he will “delete” it by eating it! And then he can carry on with a second work of art!
– Another idea is to swap one meal with one or two smoothies that your children can sip with a straw. This might be your chance to feed them veggies, for example: blend apple, carrot and celery, with a dash of fruit juice and garnish the glass with a beautiful colourful straw and a small umbrella … as if it were a summer cocktail!
The author of the book recommends that you establish for each day of the week, a ‘special’ meal. On Monday ‘the restaurant’ game, on Tuesday take away, smoothie on Wednesday and so on. It could be hard to do it every single day, but if you prepare a plan in advance and stick to it, it will become easier eventually. Good luck!