Eating healthy with picky eaters can be really tough. There are many reasons why a family or household would have multiple eating lifestyles. Someone decided to go vegan, paleo, clean, autoimmune protocol, or maybe they were diagnosed with a dairy allergy and no one else wants to live without cheese. Or maybe your spouse and kids just "really don't like vegetables." The question now becomes "How do I cook for everyone without cooking completely different meals?!" It's expensive and time-consuming to cook 2 (or more) meals every single day.
This is a dilemma I've helped clients work through for years. I have shared tons of advice and strategies to try but never had to live it personally....until now. Over the past few months, I've had the opportunity to test out the suggestions I've given over the years first hand. Thankfully, what has worked for other is also working for me! (Whew!)
The Inspiration Behind This Blog
When I first met my boyfriend, of course, we talked for hours on end about everything. Being the foodie that I am, we started talking about food. He told me that he doesn't really eat fruit and vegetables. It was like the world stopped for a second. "What does he even eat?!" was my first thought. Well, he thought the same about me, haha! After our first couple dates, we knew we were going to keep seeing each other. So then I had to figure out how to cook for us (and 4 kids) without making a million different meals. It's been quite fun honestly. I'm excited to share my strategies with you! Let's dive in.
Eating Healthy With Picky Eaters
#1: Respect The Person(s) Eating Differently
Relationships come first. Why let food get in the way? While some people believe that you eat what you get or starve, there's a big difference between wanting to skip dinner and go straight to dessert, and having a darn good reason for wanting/needing to eat differently. Respecting the person's allergy/sensitivity/dietary preference is an absolute must. Don't make fun of them, make passive aggressive comments, make them feel guilty, or like they are a burden. It does nothing to change their mind or situation and will hurt your relationship with them.
#2 Get Your Kids On Board
Getting kids to eat healthily is a challenge even if their first foods were vegetables like mine. The best way to get the kids eating different foods is to have them help you prep and cook them. Most kids love to help. If yours are still resistant, I recommend having them take 2 bites. It will be a challenge, but it'll also be worth it. I promise. The other thing I like to do is buy the produce they enjoy eating and letting them eat as much of it as they want. Anything to get them eating more fresh fruits and vegetables!
#3 Make The Same Meal....With Adjustments
It's not as difficult as you'd think to make the same meal yet modify it per dietary lifestyle. It may require an extra pot or pan, but everyone can enjoy the same meal together. It's truly possible!
First: Find the foods that everyone likes that you can eat
Does everyone like rice? Pasta? Quinoa? BBQ chicken? Tacos? These kinds of meals. Find all the common foods and write them down. Writing them down is very important so don't skip this part.
Then: Adjust your favorite recipes
Most people love foods like tacos, burgers, spaghetti, chicken, and the like. It's much easier than you think to make adjustments. The best suggestion I have is to make all aspects of your meal separate, then let everyone combine as they like it. Here are a couple examples of what I've cooked and we'll then dive in together on more options.
Now, these are just the meals I've remembered to take a quick picture while cooking or just before serving. As you can see, we eat the same meals with adjustments. Food brings people together and no one wants to miss out!
- Mac and Cheese
- Lettuce or Paleo wraps
- Lettuce, tomato slices, grilled peppers, or sweet potato patties
- Cauliflower pizza crust (my recipe)
- Spiralized vegetable noodles: Zucchini, Potato, Sweet Potato, etc
- Cauliflower rice
- Taco salad
- Zucchini or eggplant "noodles"
- Vegetable noodles with a cheesy sauce like alfredo
It's really worked well for the 6 of us and countless clients and their families. Making the same meal but letting everyone put it together the way they like! It doesn't solve all food battles (especially with kids), but it sure does make dinner so much less of a headache.
Do you have any other tips? Share them with us below!