Cooking for picky eaters, it can be done!
Some people are adventurous eaters and others have lists of pre-approved foods that they just won’t deviate from. For every gourmand who’s willing to explore off cut meats and unfamiliar vegetables, you’ll find a picky eater who has trouble straying from the world of meat and potatoes. Pickiness is common in both kids and adults and can prove to be extremely frustrating for the cook in the house. Luckily, there are a few things you can to prepare meals that will satisfy your need to make something delicious but will still prove to be acceptable to guests and family members who tend to turn their noses up at anything new.
Sometimes you have to just have to appeal to a picky eaters palate. Traditional and comfort food meals are typically safe bets, like a roast chicken for example. You can try and sneak a few new flavours in the side dishes or spices in the meat rub.
Try these tactics:
- Keep the sauce on the side Fussy eaters are often turned off by flavours that are strong or unfamiliar. If you’re making a chicken dish that is smothered in a rich sauce, make the sauce on the side so that everyone can choose as much or as little as they’d like with their meat. Hopefully the fussier eaters will take at least a little bit of it, if not, they’ll be satisfied with a juicy, if not slightly bland, chicken breast.
- Use flavours like lemon Sauces and dressings with strong, spicy flavours may not appeal to picky eaters but gentle familiar flavours like lemon and sparse amounts of garlic or thyme can be just as delicious. Bring out the natural flavours of vegetables and meat with some salt and your food will speak for itself without offending picky palates.
- Stick with the classics If you’re planning a pizza or pasta night, you don’t need to dress things up with pungent cheeses and exotic toppings. An expertly made marinara or bolognese sauce is just as delicious as something made with truffles or octopus. Pepperoni and mozzarella cheese are classic pizza toppings for a reason, and sticking to the classics may mean that everyone is willing to eat.
- Become a comfort food cook Chili, baked potatoes, beef stew, shepherd’s pie and chicken noodle soup may not feel like the most exciting things to cook, but comfort foods tend to be favourites for both picky eaters and everyone else. If you can perfect these dishes you’ll always have something in your repertoire when you have fussy friends to feed.
- Mask vegetables when feeding kids If you’re accommodating picky adult guests for a single dinner party you don’t have to worry too much about the nutritional value of the food, but if they picky eater in your life is your own child (whether they’re a toddler or a teenager) you will have to make sure there’s some balance to their diet. This may mean sneaking cauliflower puree into their mac ‘n’ cheese or cooked spinach into brownies — while simultaneously trying to teach them how to appreciate a variety of foods while serving seasonable vegetables with their regular meals.
- When you do try new things, don’t tell guests what they’re eating until they’ve already given it a tryIf you do want to try something outside of the box, be it an organ meat or a new kind of cheese, see if your picky eater will give it a try. Pickiness is often psychological and a fussy eater may actually enjoy a new food if they don’t know they’re eating something they think they don’t like.