Tips on Feeding a Family With Those Picky Eaters

Hailey Fruck

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June 29, 2020
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Before I married my husband, I would try new recipes and be excited to try a new vegetable or fruit. I remember when I first discovered how to roast vegetables, I decided to try zucchini. I got out my sheet pan, knife, salt, pepper, and olive oil and excitedly roasted my first zucchini. I served it with some brown rice and baked chicken breast. I handed my husband his plate, he just looked at me like I was crazy, and said “What is this?”. This is when I realized my husband was not too keen on trying new foods. From this point on, whenever he saw a food that was not in his usual repertoire of consumption on my grocery list, he would make sure that food was not for him to consume. My husband was used to eating foods that were not too adventurous, and as he describes as “family food”, “kid friendly”, “low-profile”, “food that anybody could eat”, and “meat and potatoes diet”. 

So how do I get my husband to eat balanced meals that were not damaging to his arteries? My first step was having a nice heart-to-heart with him about how I would love to have him grow old with me. That way we can both watch our children grow old together. After that first step I made a few modifications in my diet as well as his, that way we could both meet in the middle and get the nutrients we need. 

Weekly I make meals that are well balanced and healthful. One day a week I would make a meal that would not be as good for us, like fettucine alfredo with garlic bread. Below are some tips I use to make meals still healthy for us but still delicious. An added bonus is that these tips will not break the bank! 

  • To add some crunch to chicken: 
    • cut a chicken breast into bite-sized pieces and coat in corn starch (I do this by putting about a half cup of corn starch in a bowl and throwing the bites in there and mix it all around). 
    • heat up a pan on medium heat and add a drizzle of olive oil to evenly coat the pan
    • place the pieces of chicken in the pan, drizzle a bit more olive oil in around the pieces, then move the pan around to spread the oil around
    • let the pieces sit for about 3 minutes then sauté them around to thoroughly cook through the pieces. 
    • After I do this, I usually coat the chicken in some sort of sauce for some flavor. For example: BBQ sauce or Sweet Chili Sauce mixed with Mayonnaise.  
  • To make sure the family gets their grains in:
    • Each meal should have a grain (refer to MyPlate image at the bottom of post for amount). 
    • Make a cup of rice just by boiling or using a rice cooker. Once rice is done add a tablespoon of unsalted butter, not margarine, just plain unsalted butter. This will add some taste but not much bad fats or sodium! 
    • If your family does not like the taste or rice, try mixing it with some sort of sauce from the main protein with the meal. For example: BBQ sauce, sweet chili sauce, or a bit of cheese. Sometimes even throwing some spices in there helps! I like to use the spice mixes for roasted garlic chicken or even honey roasted chicken in the rice. My family seems to enjoy it as well. 
    • If your family is super into noodles, try using whole wheat noodles or protein noodles! 
  • Getting in those lean proteins:
    • Use ground beef that is a lean cut, usually no less than 93% lean.
    • No need to go crazy with only eating ground turkey or chicken all of the time! Beef still has needed the needed protein and iron that children need to grow and adults need to thrive! 
    • Make sure to keep a reasonable serving size for each plate of about 4-6 ounces of lean meat!
  • The dreaded vegetables:
    • Start out by hyping new vegetables to whatever suites your family! My go-to is to say that they are delicious and super good for us! 
    • If hyping up the vegetables doesn’t work, you can always cook them in a not-so-bland way.
    • Roast the vegetables in some olive oil with salt and pepper.
    • If your family still isn’t into the roasted vegetables, try mixing them in with whatever grain you are serving! If that still is not working, try mixing the vegetables with a sauce. 
    • The best way to keep all the nutrients from the vegetables in the cooking process is to steam them. I like to steam them and add some complementing seasonings. 
    • If all else fails with the vegetables, try putting some spinach in a smoothie along with sweet fruits like mangos or pineapples as a dessert! The fruits mask the spinach taste but all of the nutrients are still there. 

Visit www.choosemyplate.gov for more tips on feeding the whole family healthy foods! Here is their plate that is a good template for creating that healthy plate for your family: 

Hailey Fruck

Hailey Fruck

Hailey Fruck is an Intelligence Analyst in the Air Force and an aspiring Registered Dietitian. She is a part-time Food and Nutrition student at the University of Alabama. In her free time she enjoys cooking, running, and spending time with her husband, Justin, her baby, Aiden, and her three beautiful dogs, Captain, Scarlet, and Maverick.