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5 Tips for Picky Eaters

by Kate McMillan, author of The Lunch Box

It's true – kids can be picky eaters. As parents, we want to make sure our children eat a healthy and balanced diet. But deep in our hearts, we also wish our children truly loved food and approached mealtime like other new experiences in life – with a sense of adventure, confidence and an open mind.

Easier said than done. After a long day, it's easy to succumb to a food tantrum. But with a little effort and a few tricks up our sleeves, we can all have kids who don't just eat well, but are eager to try new cuisines.

Here are some ways to turn little ones into true foodies (or at least to get them to expand their repertoire of buttered noodles and hot dogs!):

5 Secrets to a Successful Lunch Box
  • Let them pick.

    Hand your child one of your cookbooks with great food photography and a stack of post-it notes. Ask your child to place post-it notes on the pages that look delicious to them. This will instill a sense of excitement about the meal even before their chosen recipe appears on your dinner table.

  • Go exploring.

    While in the grocery store, ask your child to choose one item she has never tried before. Better yet, take her to the farmer's market where she can taste her way around. Children are much more keen to try something new if they have chosen it themselves.

  • Plant a little garden.

    There are countless reasons why this is a fantastic idea. Your child will love to plant seeds and watch them grow. Tending to a garden is a magical and educational experience and will make your child feel more connected to the food on your dinner table. Plus, growing your own food can significantly cut down on your grocery bill – bonus!

  • Celebrate.

    Choose some of the less-hyped holidays to introduce a new cuisine at home. Holidays like Cinco de Mayo, St. Patrick's Day and Chinese New Year are great opportunities to learn about and try new foods. Plan these celebratory meals together, and maybe even add music and decoration to make it extra fun.

  • Cook together.

    Make a commitment to cook together one day each week. Cooking with a parent is a wonderful experience for a child and will give him confidence and a new appreciation for food. Select simple recipes to start with, and allow yourselves plenty of time. While the meal cooks, have your child help set the table and add fresh flowers or candles. Meals made together and enjoyed together are always a cause for celebration, especially when the ending includes clean plates and big smiles.