Has meal time become a challenge in your home? Do you struggle to get your child to eat what is on his plate? Is dinner a constant battle?
Are you dealing with picky eaters?
In our home, we certainly have seen our share of struggles around the dining table. With our oldest daughter having an Autism Spectrum Disorder and our oldest son having his own texture-sensory issues, preparing a meal that everyone enjoys is not an easy task. (I can only imagine what it will be like when the youngest two children are old enough to voice their opinions!)
Each day, I would wail and bemoan the fact that my children were not getting a good balance of nutrition. Then, I read The No-Cry Picky Eater Solution by Elizabeth Pantley and she said something that changed how I thought. Instead of putting so much focus on what the children were (or were not) eating at each meal, I started to think about their nutrition over the course of a week. I decided to make one buffet-style meal each week so the children could prepare their own plates.
Do you know what happened? They put things on their plates that I would have never imagined. And. They. ATE.
So, here are some simple buffet-style meals to help you tame the picky eaters in your home.
Make your own pita pizza
Purchase whole wheat pita bread, pizza sauce, alfredo sauce, and a variety of cheese and toppings. Don’t hesitate when it comes to vegetables or meat. Steam broccoli florets. Julienne a few carrots. Dice some cooked chicken. Whatever you have in your refrigerator or freezer that might make an interesting pizza topping… pull it out and place it on the counter.
Then, allow the children to prepare their own pizzas. You can place their creations on a baking sheet and cook in a 375 degree oven for about 10 minutes or you can just microwave them for 30 seconds to 1 minute, depending on the amount of toppings.
Yogurt parfait breakfast bar
Offer a choice from two flavors of yogurt. Wash and cut (if needed) a variety of fruit. Some great options are sliced bananas, quartered strawberries, halved grapes, apple chunks, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries. Also, consider allowing your picky eaters to choose to top their parfaits with cereal, granola, toasted oats, dried fruit, and/or nuts.
My children love to make (and eat) yogurt parfaits. Some nights, we even eat these for dessert.
Other buffet ideas for your picky eater
Build Your Own Pasta Bowl ~ Let children choose from two different pasta shapes, sauces (spaghetti, alfredo, pesto, etc.), cooked and/or raw vegetables, pepperoni, ham, cooked chicken, browned ground beef, and various cheeses.
Chef’s Salad Bar ~ This is a family favorite for us, especially when the produce bins only have a few things available and there is not enough of any one thing to create a meal. However, aside from vegetables, consider adding some of these options to your salad bar: cooked meats, diced fruit, various textures of rice, hard and/or soft cheeses, nuts, dried fruit, croutons, french fried onions, boiled eggs, olives, pickles, etc.
Bottomless Oatmeal Breakfast ~ Prepare oatmeal as you normally would but allow the children to top their hot cereal with yogurt, honey, chocolate chips, fresh or canned fruit, jelly, nuts, or granola.
What could you serve buffet-style?
Tabitha Philen, known as “Penny” to her readers at www.MeetPenny.com, is a saved by grace wife to one terrific husband and homeschooling mother to 4 amazing children, ages 8 years old and under with the oldest having an Autism Spectrum Disorder. Tabitha recently released her first ebook, Advanced Penny Pinching, in which she shares very practical tips for cutting your grocery expenses with or without coupons.