I never thought I’d have a picky eater. As a child, I loved (even craved and begged for) vegetables. As a baby, my son happily chomped down anything and everything (thanks, baby-led weaning). And then toddlerhood rolled around, and he started turning up his nose at previous favorites, like sauerkraut, and meticulously picking out all the peas from a mac-and-cheese dish.
Thankfully, I don’t feel worried about his nutrition, because he loves beans, fruit, and popsicles made of plain whole-fat yogurt blended with spinach and berries. But as he became less adventurous, family meals went from a joy to a total chore. Heeding the advice of Ellyn Satter to always serve a meal component your picky eater will eat seemed like a death sentence to our varied and interesting meals (unless we always served a loaf of bread on the side, which, to be honest, seemed like a death sentence to my health).
Thankfully, three years into this parenting gig, I have discovered a number of meals that work for every member of the family. If you, too, find yourself trying to please a picky eater while keeping your sanity intact, I hope these help!
Tacos and quesadillas
These are served bare bones for our picky eater (just black beans and cheese, please), but the adults pile on the sautéed veggies, salsa chicken, beans, and cheese. We use dips with abandon (sour cream, crema, salsa, hot sauce).
Breakfast for dinner
Thankfully, we all can agree on scrambled eggs, veggie bacon, and pancakes. Lately we’ve been obsessed with baking a big Dutch baby (easier to execute and more protein than traditional pancakes). This chocolate variety is a hit at our house.
This is our new Sunday tradition. Truthfully, our picky eater always eats his “deconstructed,” but that’s OK. There are far worse meals than bread, cheese, apples, carrots, and hummus. The adults go all out, and it’s fun to recreate restaurant sandwiches at home. I particularly love a roasted eggplant, hummus, feta, and tomato creation while my husband digs habanero cheddar with ham.
Our picky eater doesn’t like rice (seriously — WHY?), but he does love tofu, beans, and cheese. I like my rice bowls with beans, tofu, lots of yummy roasted veggies, and a drizzle of a sauce that is equal parts Dijon mustard, plain yogurt, and sriracha.
Our family’s all-time favorite food is pizza. We dream of building a pizza oven in our backyard. Throw together an easy crust (or buy one at Trader Joe’s!) and then each person can choose his or her own toppings.