Recipes for a Picky Eater

Updated on January 14, 2010
J.W. asks from Brimfield, IL
7 answers

My 4 year old is a very picky eater. This past week we have been getting her to try new things. Some things she has liked and others she has not. I made campbell soups cheesy chicken and rice casserole and she liked it. My neighbor also made cheesy potatoes (she used the frozen hash browns) with ham. She liked the cheesy potatoes just not the ham, but at least she tried the ham. We are living on pizza, chicken nuggets, cereal, and pancakes with sausage. Sometime I can get spagetti in to. I power pack it with hamburger for the iron. Right now she is also in a growth spurt and hungry all the time. Anyone have any great recipes ideas for a picky eater. I would love some new ideas.

1 mom found this helpful

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So What Happened?

HI All. Thanks for the responses. I really appreacite it. I should though clarify that she does like fruits like apples, bananas, and oranges so those are always on hand. She is also a very good yogurt eater. She was not always this picky. She did much better as we introduced foods except for some veggies, but loved the fruits. She use to eat alot better. It has just been as she turned 31/2 to 4 and decided she was just not going to eat some of the better things even though they are offered all the time to her. She also gets a vitamin everyday. I do have the cook book that was suggested. I used it for a while and then found my grocery bill went through the roof much to my husbands displeasure of the buget. I will be investigating the picky eater plan. I will also try some of your suggestions. Here's to moving a picky eater forward. Thanks Ladies.

More Answers



answers from Chicago on

Feed her what YOU eat as a family. STOP making her separate meals. Here is what I call my Picky Eater Plan that I advise daycare providers and moms to use.

There is a great book by William G Wilkoff, MD called Coping with a Picky Eater that every parent or provider of kids should read and have a copy of.

This book has what I call the Picky Eater Plan. I have used this plan with kids that literally threw up at the sight of food and within 2 weeks they were eating normal amounts of everything and trying every food.

First you need to get everyone who deals with the child on board. If you are a provider it's ok to make this the rule at your house and not have the parents follow through but you wont' see as good results as what I described up above.

The plan is to limit the quantities of food you give the kid. When I first start with a child I give them literally ONE bite worth of each food I am serving. The book suggests that every time you feed the kids (breakfast, morning snack, lunch, afternoon snack, dinner) you give all 4 food groups. So, for lunch today I would have given the child one tiny piece of strawberry, one spoonful of applesauce, 3 macaroni noodles with cheese on them, and 2 oz of milk. Only after they ate ALL of what was on their plate would you give them anything else. They can have the same amounts for seconds. If they only want more mac and cheese, they only get 3 noodles then they would have to have more of all the other foods in order to get more than that. If they don't eat, fine. If they don't finish, fine. Don't make a big deal out of it, just make them stay at the table until everyone else is done eating. They don't get more food until they are sat at the next meal and they only get what you serve. When I first do this with a child I don't serve sweets at all. So no animal crackers for snack but rather a carrot for snack. Or one of each of those. I don't make it easy for them to gorge on bad foods in other words. Now if they had a meal where they ate great then I might make the snack be a yummy one cause I know they filled up on good foods.

Even at snacks you have to limit quantities of the good stuff or else they will hold out for snack and just eat those snacky foods. I never give a picky eater the reward of a yummy snack unless they had that great lunch prior to it.

It really is that easy.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

get the book Deceptivley Delicious.....lots of ways to hide veggies...I put between 6-10 cups of pureed veggies in every batch of spag sauce I make......I though am hiding the veggies for my 67 yr old mother not my 8 yr old......there are also GREAT brownies that hide spinach AND carrots.......lots of good info to get you started

I am fortunate that for us it has not been "picky" about tastes, it has been foods 'touching" and texture issues....the rule in our house has ALWAYS been you must have a "No Thank You Bite" everything we are having for dinner is on the plate, you must take at least 1 bite....if you like it of COURSE you may have more....if not we try again next have 5-10 times more tastebuds than adults so they "taste" everything at a higher level so be patient and KEEP day she will SUPRISE you by asking for something you thought she "hated" GOOD LUCK nad KEEP TRYING!!!!!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Y daughter has always preferred raw veggies to cooked. Also, fruit is usually popular once they vet used to eating it. It sounds like you need to include more of these.



answers from Chicago on

pizza bagels - use an english muffin and put sauce and cheese on it and then broil.
sweet potatoes from trader joes - I microwave them
little quiche
morning star veggie nuggets which I tell my little one are chicken nuggets
chicken paillards - ie cut chicken breast in half and then pound till very thin, then saute in pan and if feeling adventurous, add a drop of lemon and some butter.

My little one drives me nuts with her pickiness but doc says it is fine as she is getting everything she needs - peanut butter and jam sandwiches and chicken get her the protein she needs, she eats lots of carbs and is good with fruit and some veggies (broccoli, potatoes, tomatoes, carrots). But the variety is not great. She gets iron from the oatmeal (baby oatmeal) that she loves.
Other favorite is bananas mushed up with tiny amount of sugar on whole wheat bread.

good luck.



answers from Chicago on

Does she like eggs? Pasta? Yogurt? Peanut butter? That's quite a limited diet (of pretty unhealthy food) she's on. I agree with the comment about adding pediasure, but it is kind of spendy ($10 for 4 servings at Jewel I think) and I think there might be other ways to get more nutrition into her diet. First, offer veggies at every dinner. Keep offering and offering. She'll get used to them being there, and eventually she will be hungry enough to try them if she wants seconds of something but you tell her she needs to eat a few bites of the veggies first.

There are also other ways to get in added nutrition...Whole Foods sells a juice called Vruit that has a whole serving of veggies in 8 oz. Also, does she like fresh fruit? I don't think I've ever met a kid who didn't like fresh fruit. Lots of that should be on hand for her. If she won't eat the fruit itself, get a juicer and make fresh fruit popsicles.

Some other things I do:

Chicken - buy frozen grilled chicken that you just heat & serve - healthy non-breaded protein. I like to heat it on the stove in a little veggie stock to make it moist.

Pasta - instead of packaged mac&cheese, which I personally think is just too processed, I make pasta for my 3 year-old using just dried pasta and adding a little butter, garlic powder, and fresh grated parmesan cheese. He loves it, and it's much cleaner food. Or I make a sauce on the stovetop for his pasta using olive oil, fresh tomatoes, a garlic clove, and a little Italian seasoning - cook until the tomatoes break down. It's delicious.

Quesadillas - I keep tortillas on hand and melt a little bit of cheese in them in the oven...I chop up summer or acorn squash super super tiny and saute them for a minute in a dab of olive oil and a clove of garlic on the stove then hide them in the tortilla. My picky eater LOVES them.

Edamame - I buy frozen bags of edamame at trader joe and just defrost the amount I need. My son has a ball popping the beans out of the shell. He'll eat tons of them.

Prosciutto - Trader joe sells decent prosciutto at a very reasonable price - for a protein I will just heat the oven to 350 and bake a few slices for about 5 minutes. My son calls it "bacon."

Veggies - I keep frozen sweet peas and corn on hand and just defrost right before dinner. Also you can try sweet potato fries in the oven. We also do carrot sticks and hummus a lot.

I think the main idea is to start expanding her palate and introduce her to a wider variety of foods. Just giving her what you know she'll eat is understandable because it's easy and you know it will be successful. But that's really limiting her and she might surprise you. In our house we love to indulge in things like cookies and french baguettes with cheese and roasted garlic. But everything we eat is either homemade with healthy ingredients (or at least it's clean food - my cookies recipe can't be called healthy per se, but it's made by me and has no processed junk in it), or if we purchase food, we look for brands that use as few ingredients as possible to limit the garbage in what we eat. That's why I like trader joe so much. Fresh, whole foods are always better. And we also started doing a veggie share this past summer and now are doing it for the winter...a fabulous way to always have fresh veggies in the house and to keep trying new ones.

Good luck!! Change is right around the corner. Good for you for being an awesome mom and wanting to make the change.



answers from Chicago on

Hi J. I don't have any recipes but Pediasure is good for picky eaters and it's pack with plenty of nutrition.



answers from Chicago on

In all the things you named, there are NO vegetables at all, and all processed food loaded with artificial colors, flavors and preservatives. Kids have taste buds that are not as worn out as ours, so a lot of things taste really 'strong' to them and it can take a long time for them to learn to eat a new food.

But the main, really important thing, is to OFFER IT. Over and over and over and over. Just in very small quantities, but if you are not offering fruits and vegetables, she is never going to learn to eat them. Also, if you 'hide' them in other foods, they will get the nutrition- but you are teaching them that veggies are bad and icky and have to be hidden, instead of just eating them.

The number one mistake most parents of babies and toddlers make when offering a new food is to offer it a couple of times and just give up because the child doesn't instantly gobble it up and 'love' it. You just have to be patient and keep giving them the healthy food choices. Also, if they see YOU eating it, your child is much more likely to be interested in eating it as well.

Picky eaters are created, not born. If your daughter is not actively allergic to foods, you are just creating this situation by giving in and letting her control the kitchen.

She will eat things when she is hungry. A lot of parents make the mistake of offering too much food, too often in too large portions. Little tiny meals that are fun- try a couple of baby carrots and if she likes dressing, a little ranch dressing to dip them in. Celery and peanut butter with some raisins on top- ants on a log- two little broccoli 'trees' with some cheese sauce on top.

By letting your toddler 'live' on pizza, chicken nuggets, cheesy potatoes and pancakes and sausage, you are setting her up for an unhealthy life. Childhood obesity can be directly traced back to how you ate when you were little. If you set up positive healthy eating habits now, it will last her whole life- and be better for you too!

Don't fall into the 'picky eater' trap and allow a 4 year old to rule your kitchen! Be the mom and just offer her healthy foods- she will eat them when she is hungry and she will learn to love and ask for them if you don't give in and just give her junk food because it is easier. Good luck!

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