Do you have a picky eater in the house? We certainly do. My son just won’t eat fruits, vegetables or any other healthy food. I think it is necessary to help our children to develop their sense of taste. That would help them enjoy the flavors of healthy food and make them less apt to be picky eaters.
Plan to eat healthy? Eating right is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. But with hundreds of available foods, planning your meals can become complicated.
7-Day Healthy Dinner Plan for Picky Eaters
The term “picky eater” is a little unfair: it suggests a certain grumpiness associated with food. My kids are certainly not grumpy about food. They love it! They just want to be in control of what they put in their mouth. This is all fine and good, except when, for example, my son’s desire to eat nothing but steak for dinner conflicts with my desire for him to eat a balanced meal. Inevitably, frustration ensues—on both sides of the argument.
So how do you feed a hungry family healthy meals every night that satisfy everyone’s taste buds? Give everyone choices, without cooking four separate meals. Offer a meal as deconstructed parts and everyone gets the choice to fill their plate with what they want to eat. Just lay out a few simple rules for those picky eaters: everyone’s plate must include a healthy protein, vegetables and a whole grain (sometimes we’ll do a starchy veg instead, like sweet potatoes or corn on the cob). We also serve up classic kid favorites—like chicken tenders and pizza—with a healthy twist.
When it comes to drinks, water, milk and unsweetened nondairy milk are all great choices to round out the meal. But some picky eaters might struggle with the taste. Try adding a splash of 100-percent juice to plain seltzer water for a homemade “soda” kids will like. Or make your own chocolate milk so you control the amount of sugar. Use less and less chocolate each time to help wean your picky eater off the sweetness.
No two “picky eaters” have the same selective preferences. A kid who hates salad one day could love it the next. But hopefully you’ll find some inspiration below to help keep you from becoming a short-order cook.
The genius of this sheet-pan dinner is that everything is cooked together—but separately—which is key for some picky eaters. The healthy meatloaf recipe and side dishes are all made in the oven on two sheet pans so that everything’s ready for the dinner table at the same time. The potatoes go into the oven first to start roasting while the mini meatloaves and green beans are prepped and added to the oven partway through.
Monday: Classic Mac & Cheese
No sneaky ingredients here, just delicious comfort food. You can enjoy this super-cheesy mac and cheese in the same time it takes to cook the boxed version. Whole-wheat noodles add fiber, while sharp Cheddar adds richness. A hefty twist of black pepper balances the cheese’s salty tang. Serve with simple roasted broccoli.
Classic Mac & Cheese
Picky-Eater Tip: Top the broccoli with a small pat of butter, then watch your kids gobble it up. Omit the ground pepper from the mac & cheese and let everyone add their own at the end, if they choose.
Tuesday: Taco Night
Taco night is the ultimate meal for picky eaters, because everyone can choose their favorite taco toppings—or just keep it plain. Mixing mashed canned beans with whole beans and seasonings makes an incredibly simple taco filling from your pantry. Top these speedy five-ingredient tacos with lettuce, tomato and salsa or any of your favorite taco toppings.
Black Bean Tacos
Sliced red & yellow bell peppers
Picky-Eater Tip: Let everyone choose their own toppings—they’ll be more likely to eat what’s on their plate.
Wednesday: Chicken Tenders
Ever-popular kids’-menu fare, crispy chicken tenders are an easy dinner the whole family will love. Serve with marinara sauce for dipping, steamed green beans and quinoa.
Parmesan-Crusted Chicken Tenders
Steamed Green Beans
Picky-Eater Tip: Try seasoning the quinoa with a pinch of salt and a small pat of butter to mellow out the flavor.
Thursday: Pizza Night
Now, who doesn’t love pizza?! You won’t believe how quick and easy it is to make this healthy pie. Thanks to a two-ingredient dough that combines self-rising flour and Greek yogurt, there’s no need for a rise time. Just roll, top and bake, and you’ll have a delicious dinner on the table in under half an hour.
Two-Ingredient-Dough Margherita Pizza
Picky-Eater Tip: Make personal pizzas so everyone can choose their own toppings. Another option? Only top half of the pizza with basil and leave the other half without for those who want plain cheese pizza.
Friday: Fish Sticks
You can make these homemade fish sticks in about the same amount of time it takes to bake a box of the frozen kind.
EatingWell Fish Sticks
Oven-Baked Curly Fries
Homemade Ranch Dressing with Veggies
Picky-Eater Tip: Kids love dips! Serve this meal with ranch dressing and ketchup and let them dip away.
Saturday: Baby Back Ribs
This easy load-and-go crock pot recipe is a great dinner to make with your kids. Let the kids stir the sauce while you rub the ribs, then just let the slow cooker do the rest of the work! Serve with a colorful coleslaw and mashed sweet potatoes.
5 Best Healthy Dinner Ideas for Picky Eaters
What are healthy meals for picky eaters?
Once or twice in your life, you will encounter people who are not quite fond of a number of foods. This may be a friend of yours, a family member, or even your child! When you hear about being a picky eater, you may initially think of a toddler refusing to eat their broccoli, but you must also remember that adults struggle with it, too! Being a picky eater usually means that they only like a very limited set of foods and they won’t really try new foods if it looks, smells, or tastes different than usual.
Yes, after hearing this, you may feel like this is a lost case. However, do not give up on them because you can actually still serve and introduce them to new healthy foods and meals through these tips:
- Serve food as simple and basic as possible. This means that casseroles and other mixed foods are usually not preferred by picky eaters since all the textures mixed together can be quite overwhelming for them.
- Think about the texture and flavor they like. There are different ways on how you can prepare your food to their liking. If they like bland flavors, then you may want to lessen the amount of certain ingredients, and vice versa.
- Pair a new meal or food with something they enjoy. If you are introducing them to a new type of meal, then you may want to add some of their well-liked sauce, seasonings, and ingredients just so they will still sense that familiarity with their food.
- Try different preparations. Different cooking methods can drastically change the appearance and flavor of your meals. If your picky eater can’t stand a certain vegetable, then you could either try steaming, sauteeing, or grilling them instead.
- Be consistent with their food plan. You must take note that picky eaters need a lot of exposure to that certain food or meal to be comfortable with it. So taking it baby steps each day will already be a great help.
Some healthy and well-liked foods and snacks for picky eaters usually contain fruits, yogurt, peanut butter, and such. To also make sure that your picky eater is eating healthy choices, then it is best to remove unnecessary fats, sugars, and carbs from their diets. This means opting for vegetables, whole foods, unrefined grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats.
Healthy recipes for picky eaters on a budget
Whether it be a child or an adult, feeding a picky eater should not be a challenge and should not be given up on. With that said, here are healthy and budget-friendly recipes picky eaters will love!
Mediterranean Crock-Pot Chicken Taco Bar
Next time you’re thinking “taco night,” think beyond the typical Mexican-style taco bar and try this incredibly delicious Mediterranean Chicken Taco recipe!
Vegan Cauliflower & Black Bean Tacos
Something magical happens to cauliflower when you roast it in the oven for 30+ minutes. And then pair that magical cauliflower with some cumin and lime and cayenne and black beans and tortillas and you have the easiest ever super delicious vegan tacos!
Keto Pizza Pockets
Keto Pizza Pockets are a low carb snack or lunch your kiddos will love! Bursting with pepperoni cheesy goodness in every bite! Perfect meal prep and freezer safe makes these homemade pockets better than store bought!
Crispy oven baked Cornflake Chicken Tenders are perfect HEALTHY, low-calorie, easy family meal. Tenders are coated in sweet cornflakes for extra crunch, enriched with aromatic spices and baked to golden perfection.
Buffalo Chickpea Sandwich With Vegan Blue Cheese
Love the flavors of buffalo plus cool, creamy dressing? You’re going to adore it in one handheld vessel. This buffalo chickpea sandwich is ready in just 20 minutes!