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How meal planning helps picky eaters


Staff member
Dec 14, 2023
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Anyone who meal plans regularly knows that it can really help you to be more organised, spend less time at the supermarket and also remove a lot of stress come meal times. But it can also help picky eaters to explore eating a better variety of foods.

I’ve worked with so many families of picky eaters and I understand how tricky it can be to plan a meal when kids don’t eat a great variety of foods. Putting thought into a meal that is nourishing and helps to extend the variety of foods picky eaters will eat is much easier to do when you plan ahead, rather than scrambling to cook something everyone will enjoy at the last minute.

In my experience, fussy eaters don’t develop better eating habits if they are served only the foods they like day after day. By doing so you either reinforce their picky eating or instead, they burn out and eat even less variety over time.

Having a strategy to improve the variety of foods your picky eater will eat is really helpful to find a balance between liked foods and new or not so welcome foods. Finding this balance will involve some trial and error and it’s really important to take small steps to make improvements.

Having a meal plan is so valuable as it helps you to…

1. Feel more confident and relaxed heading into meal times because you feel organised. It’s satisfying knowing that you have covered important bases like presenting a well balanced meal that has variety and some aspect that appeals to everyone. The less stressed we are as parents during meal time, the better our kids will eat.

2. Make sure there is a familiar food each meal. Perhaps write a list of all the foods your child likes to eat and when you are planning meals, make sure at least one food is part of the meal. Also see if you can identify any patterns or similarities in the textures and flavours of the foods they enjoy. Are they more soft, cooked foods or perhaps raw, crunchy foods. I’ve found with my own kids, there are certain vegetables that they love raw, but dislike cooked (and vice versa). Then you can perhaps focus on introducing meals or foods that are different, but have similar flavours or textures as the foods they already like.

3. Keep tabs on how a particular meal or new or previously rejected food is received. You might find the first time you try something new, only a few mouthfuls are eaten, but the next time, a whole lot more of the meal is enjoyed. So take notes as this will help to inform future plans.

If your kids are old enough, also get them involved in the planning process as all kids like to have a bit of input an this makes it more likely they will actually eat a meal if they’ve had some input into it.

I hope this encourages you to think about how meal planning might improve your kids eating habits.
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