Raising healthy eaters is hard work. Even when you cook healthy meals, it doesn’t always matter. As kids get older and their independence surges, so can their opinions and preferences regarding food.
My oldest child is my pickiest eater. He ate anything we put in front of him up until about age 2. Now, he doesn’t care for most mixed foods: soups, stews, casseroles, etc. He’d rather have his food fairly plain and separated. This works fine on a night we are grilling meat and having vegetables as sides, but I love making one-pot or one-dish meals because they are typically loaded with veggies and they are meals I can prep long before dinnertime hits.
Despite knowing his preferences, I try not to cater too much to my picky child. I didn’t sign up to be a short-order cook. As a result, my picky eater has branched out just a bit and tried dishes that have surprised me (philly cheese steak sloppy joes and spaghetti squash pizza pie). So we’re seeing slow but consistent progress when it comes to his palate.
All the dinners I cook include vegetables, but some are true side dishes and some are mixed into one-pan meals like casseroles. My picky eater may pick the chicken out of a chicken casserole and not touch the rest. So earlier this year, I implemented a new rule at dinnertime that has worked quite well in getting my kids to eat more veggies.
How I Get My Kids to Eat More Veggies
My veggie rule: My kids have to eat at least one vegetable, but they are allowed to choose the vegetable.
If I’m roasting broccoli, boiling corn or baking sweet potatoes—vegetables that I know they all will eat—then their vegetable for the night is taken care of. But if the vegetable is mixed in a casserole or a more adult-like vegetable such as asparagus, not all of my kids care for that. So they are allowed their vegetable of choice. Instead of trying to force my kids to eat vegetables they (think they) don’t like, the power is in their hands to choose a vegetable that they do like. To me, this puts a more positive spin on vegetables by focusing on the ones they do enjoy. Using this rule and giving them a bit of power also often results in them choosing more than one veggie for dinner.
I don’t cook extra veggies for my kids, instead, we typically have the fridge stocked with several raw veggie options each week. This makes it easy for me to add their chosen veggie to their dinner plate at the last minute. Here’s our go-to list of easy raw vegetables in case you need ideas for your own kids:
How do you get your kids to eat more veggies?
Other Healthy Eating Posts:
Looking for ways to make weeknight meals faster and healthier? See my list of the best veggies to stock in your freezer.
Easy-to-throw-together mega salads are also the perfect healthy lunch option. See my infographic on how to build a mega salad that acts as your whole meal.