If you’ve ever spent hours, whisking + stirring away in the kitchen to whip up a Martha Stewart-worthy meal for your family, only to have your little ones thumb their noses at the instagrammable dish you poured your love into, than you understand the plight of parenting a picky eater.
Beyond the frustration that comes with having your culinary creations snubbed by your persnickety kiddos, there’s the additional veil of fear that comes with wondering whether or not your little ones are getting the nutrition they need to support their growth and development. If you’re the parent of picky eaters, we’re here to help! Today, we’re sharing our top tips for picky-proofing your pantry to ensure your little ones stay fueled and full of the nutrients they need to grow big and strong–while providing the peace of mind you’re looking for as a parent of a finicky foodie.
Read on for our complete list of health hacks to picky-proof your pantry!
Combine & Conquer
Research shows that picky eaters are significantly more likely to try new foods if it's combined or paired with foods they recognize and already enjoy. If introducing a new, unfamiliar food to your little one, make sure you pair it or combine it with something you know they love. Some of our favorite picky-eater-friendly combos include steamed veggies with a sprinkle of parmesan or plant-based cheese (or nutritional yeast, a great dairy-free, cheese-like alternative), fruits paired with kid-friendly yogurt, and new protein sources paired with dips you know your little one enjoys (like ketchup or ranch dressing–two popular options for finicky foodies).
Stock Up on Kid-Friendly Seasonings
Sometimes, all that it takes to get your picky eater to try something new is by spicing things up (pun intended!) with seasonings. Nowadays, there are many fun, kid-friendly seasonings available both online and in traditional grocery stores. Some favorite blends for picky little ones include ranch, everything bagel, ketchup, and butter-flavored seasonings, all of which can do wonders for enhancing the palatability of a serving of steamed veggies for a picky eater.
Pack Your Pantry Full of Healthy Options
A plate of fruits, veggies, or other healthy eats is a much harder sell with a pantry packed with sugary, processed snacks and treats. Instead, keep your household stocked with good-for-you options and healthy alternatives so you won’t find yourself in a constant battle with a little one who hopes that by holding out long enough, they’ll have their “yucky” meal replaced with a box of packaged mac & cheese from the pantry. Some of our favorite healthy pantry swaps include…
- Organic fruit leathers for traditional fruit snacks.
- Protein-packed, legume-based pasta in place of standard boxed noodles.
- Plant-based protein chips in place of processed potato chips.
- Homemade protein or granola bars.
- Healthy yogurt bark in place of sugar-filled candy bars.
The Name IS the Game
It’s not always about what you’re serving, but more about how you choose to refer to the meal or snack. For example, when serving your little one a “protein shake”, simply swap the language and offer them a glass of “chocolate milk”. With the same ingredients (milk or a plant-based milk alternative + kid-friendly plant-based protein powder) and an updated, kiddo-friendly name, the drink becomes much more appealing to a fussy eater. Some other ideas include cutting veggies into chip-shaped slices and serving the “veggie chips” with a picky-palate-approved dip option, whipping up banana “popsicles” by mixing protein powder into plain yogurt & dipping in half a banana placed on a popsicle stick, or simply rebranding a thick and creamy smoothie bowl as “ice cream”.
If they won’t Eat them, HIDE THEM
If you find yourself battling your picky eater at every meal, it’s time to try the “hide & they’ll eat” method. To test this out, simply find a meal that they do enjoy eating, and incorporate“hidden”, healthy additions. Here are few of our favorite picky-eater plates:
- Zoats~Simply grate in half of a medium zucchini into traditional oatmeal as it cooks. The flavorless veggie addition is easily masked by oat toppings like sliced banana, ground cinnamon, granola, and a drizzle of honey or maple syrup.
- Secret-veggie shakes + smoothies~Next time you bust out the blender to whip up a kid-friendly shake or smoothie, try tossing in flavorless veggies like a handful of spinach or fresh or frozen zucchini. To boost the shake further, we recommend adding a tablespoon of omega-3-rich ground flaxseed or chia seeds and a scoop of Safe + Fair Kids Protein Powder. Each serving of Kids Protein Powder packs a full serving of veggies in addition to 9 grams of high-quality, vegan protein. Plus, with flavors like Vanilla Ice Cream and Chocolate Cupcake, even the pickiest of eaters will enjoy slurping down a secretly healthy Safe + Fair protein smoothie or shake.
- Pumped-Up Pancakes & Waffles~Easily add a serving or two of veggies to pancakes and waffles by incorporating a quarter to half cup of canned pumpkin, pureed sweet potato, or mashed butternut squash. With a pinch of cinnamon, these hidden veggies turn traditional pancakes and waffles into a craveable breakfast creation your picky eater will request again and again.
- Veggie-Filled Meatballs~Mix in picky-palate friendly veggies like shredded carrot and zucchini into your standard meatball recipe to get in an extra boost of micronutrients.
- Power Parfaits~Upgrade your picky littles yogurt bowl with a few superfood mix-ins that even the most scrupulous fussy foodie won’t be able to detect. A few favorite additions include kid-friendly plant-based protein powder, ground flaxseed, hemp hearts, and fiber-rich, whole grain granola. Top the bowl with their preferred fruit and you’ve got the perfect complete, picky-proof meal!
Safeguard with Supplements
If you find that you’ve hit a particularly rough patch with your picky-eater, it’s always a good idea to have a nutritional safety net in place with supplements. Fortunately, delicious, fruit-snack-like gummy vitamins are an easy sell for most finicky foodies, while providing the vitamins and minerals they need to round out their diet. If your picky-eater has put a hard stop on micronutrient-rich foods like fruits and veggies, Safe + Fair’s naturally flavored Multivitamin and Vitamin C Gummies are an convenient way to ensure your fussy eaters are getting the fuel they need to stay healthy while growing big and strong.