All children will develop particular eating habits and food likes and dislikes as they grow, but most parents dread that really fussy, picky-eating stage. In hot weather especially, it’s hard to get kids to eat much of anything at all, so it’s best to stick with finger foods, picnic foods and small bites. But after a long day playing and running around, even our fussy eaters need to recharge with something nourishing and filling. Simple recipes that can be easily adapted are the way forward when it comes to feeding picky kids. Here are some of my favourites.
There’s lots you can do with a simple pasta dish – just start with a basic, tasty sauce like Jamie’s quickest tomato sauce, then jazz it up. Whether it’s crispy bacon, tuna, sweetcorn, peas, or something quirky, mix in whatever you know they like. Alternatively, encourage them to add in the extras they like into the sauce. If they’re really fussy, veggies can be blended into a pasta sauce without them even noticing!
Both of my children are big fans of eggs, especially scrambled on buttered toast. If we’ve had cereal or fruit for breakfast, we’ll save the egg eating for lunch or dinner. Omelettes and frittatas are really easy to customise – even into different halves if you’ve more than one fussy mouth to feed. They’re also really versatile, so you can serve them with all sorts of different sides – like a lovely coleslaw or cool veggie crudités if it’s a picky meal.
Homemade meatballs, burgers and fishcakes are simple to make and you can even make a big batch and freeze some for a quick fix another day. Children will enjoy helping you make their own South American fishcakes and there are some lovely new flavours in there that might open kids’ eyes to something new. Children often surprise me with their tastes, particularly when they ask for a splash of Worcestershire sauce for the plate or grab pitted olives from the fridge to munch on!
Get the kids involved in their own puddings, too. They’ll love making these Sticky toffee cupcakes with chocolate topping – especially when served with a big helping of summer strawberries on the side!
Ren Behan is a food writer and a mum of two – find out more at www.renbehan.com