Ever feel like your life revolves around cooking and cleaning up after your kids, especially at dinnertime?
Add a fussy eater into the works, one who will only eat certain foods and needs coaxing every mealtime, and you’ve got your hands full!
On average, we’re cooking 6,570 dinners for our families over the course of 18 years. However, three in four Aussie parents are cooking more than one dinner per night (some cook up to three different dinners!) to appease fussy eaters. So without a doubt, the number of meals most likely skyrockets to 10,000+ over the duration of our parenting years. Wow, that’s a lot of dinners!
We’re talking more than 10,000 dinners to shop for, prep, cook and convince your kid to try, not to mention the cleaning up. That’s some serious work and having your picky eater push their meal around the plate and complain that it looks “weird” can definitely be extremely challenging.
My kids are the masters of turning their nose up at mealtimes. If I cook anything that isn’t pasta, nuggets or cheese, they claim it’s “weird”. And it seems my kids aren’t the only ones. According to a recent survey by HelloFresh, 85% of parents cook the same meals regularly because they know the meals will get eaten.
So what are we parents of fussy eaters supposed to do to encourage our kids to eat a healthy, diverse and balanced diet? We reached out to a dietitian to get some much-needed advice on how to handle fussy eaters (without the nightly meltdowns!)
Plus, keep on reading for a fantastic offer from HelloFresh, who deliver delicious meal kits delivered directly to your door at a fraction of the usual cost. Talk about dinnertime made easy!
Try it, you might just like it!
According to Accredited Dietitian and HelloFresh Head of Culinary, Hannah Gilbert, it’s normal for kids to reject food they haven’t tried before. However, exposing kids to different foods and diversifying their tastes at a young age is important, as it sets them up for healthier eating for the rest of their life.
It’s normal for kids to have a natural aversion to new foods. Rather than think about your fussy eater having a natural dislike of certain foods, it’s better to think of it as them being unfamiliar with that food,” – Hannah tells Mum Central.
The top three foods that parents struggle to get their children to eat include spicy food (56%), bitter food (36%) and greens (35%). Hannah shares with us her secrets to tackling these challenging food and flavours.
Spice up their life
“It’s completely normal for kids to dislike spicy food. In fact, most kids don’t like spicy food,” Hannah explains. “If you want to introduce new dishes and flavours to your kids, the HelloFresh family plan has specific curry pastes and spice mixes which have no heat – perfect for kids!”
Bring on the bitter foods!
Bitter and sour foods are quite common aversions for kids. Hannah suggests, “Offer it in small amounts, where it’s mostly unnoticeable. This will help kids to become more accustomed to the flavour.
“You can get kids to try sour foods like Greek-style yoghurt, which is really good for them, by adding freshly chopped or pureed fruits to it. The good news is that there isn’t a heap of bitter fruit and vegetables. So if your child really doesn’t like the flavour then don’t worry too much – as long as they are getting plenty of other fruit and veg in their diet.”
Give the green light
“One way to get kids to eat more greens is to disguise them in sauces. Broccoli and zucchini are two of my favourite things to chop up (or grate) and hide. You can also try to make things fun by using a spiraliser or making veggie faces,” says Hannah.
General food aversions
“It can take up to 15 exposures for kids to try something new, so don’t give up. Keep serving it up on their plate, but just be prepared for it to go untouched until they become familiar enough with it to give it a go.
“Trying ingredients in a variety of different ways can also be helpful. For example, if your child doesn’t like greens then try broccoli finely chopped in a tomato pasta sauce, boil potatoes for a potato-broccoli mash or serve it steamed or stir-fried as ‘trees’ in a vegetable side dish.”
Tips from mums with fussy eaters
We reached out to our Mum Central mums for their tips for fussy eaters. Below are a few of our fave answers.
Smoothies are a great option when it comes to dealing with fussy eaters. My two HATE all things green, except when it’s in a smoothie! I can easily add a handful of spinach, even kale, to their daily smoothie and they happily gobble it up.” – Sarah
Soup it up
My secret is soup! You won’t believe how many veggies I’ve been able to add to soups – onions, carrots, pumpkin. For some reason, if it’s in a soup then it’s good to eat!“ – Jess
Code names for the win!
I use code names for different foods to help make them sound fun. Unicorn sauce, Dinosaur bites, Monster balls, Robot rissoles. Basically, if you add a fun animal to the name of the meal, there’s a 99% chance your kid will like it more. Well, mine do at least!” – Belinda
Recently we’ve been experimenting with kebab skewers! It’s amazing how much easier it is to get my kids to eat if the food is on a stick, or, as they call it, a Fruit Rocket.” – Jenna
Let them choose some of the products when shopping. Give them the task of choosing a fruit, veggie, and three healthy snacks to add to the trolley. Not only can this be fun for them, but it is also a great way to teach them about making healthy choices.” – Lexi
Can meal kits be the solution to dinner with fussy eaters?
Another really good option for mums looking to cut back on time spent meal planning is to consider a meal kit plan. HelloFresh, for example, is an excellent choice that we’ve heard amazing things about.
What is it?
HelloFresh is a subscription-based meal kit service with boxes delivered weekly. They deliver easy-to-follow recipes and fresh, pre-portioned ingredients straight to your doorstep. There are three plans to choose from: Classic, Veggie or the Family Plan and customers can select either 3, 4 or 5 recipes per week for 2 or 4 people.
Particularly as the meals all come complete with a super simple recipe, you can get the kids involved in making dinner. This can be a great way to encourage them to try more ingredients – after all, they’ve played a hand in cooking them!
Family-friendly meals: HelloFresh delivers the goods
One of the things that set HelloFresh apart is its insights into Aussie families and what kids like and dislike. The team has a Polarising Food Index, which allows them to identify disliked ingredients and ingredient combinations. Backed by this knowledge, HelloFresh creates menus that cater to these findings and meals that steer clear of the top ‘weird’ ingredients, according to kids.
HelloFresh has a massive range of meals to choose from, with new seasonal ingredients and new recipes added every week. All the recipes are customer-rated, with the HelloFresh chefs taking into consideration the feedback they receive from customers.
Plus, it’s super simple too! Choose your meals and HelloFresh does the shopping and sends the groceries to your front door. How easy is that? The plans are flexible with no lock-in contracts. Plus, ordering, skipping or cancelling can all be done through the handy app or online.
**Exclusive HelloFresh offer for Mum Central readers**
Eliminate grocery shopping and mealtime stress and make feeding fussy eaters a whole lot easier with HelloFresh.
We reckon everyone in your family will love it. The meals are fun to make, even for kids, and getting a box of fresh ingredients every week is an exciting way to get the kids more interested in fresh and healthy food.
Plus, for a limited time, we have an exclusive offer for Mum Central readers to get 40% off their first box*! Yep, that’s 40% off! It’s a great offer and a great time to try HelloFresh! Simply use the code MUMCENTRAL at the checkout. Best of all you can share this offer with family and friends up to 31/12/20!
If you are in search of a solution to make mealtime fun, easy and healthier for everyone, we highly recommend trying HelloFresh. Adding a meal kit to the mix could be just what you need to send your kids well on their way to a healthier, more diverse diet without the “weird” comments.