Changing things up at mealtime

At my house, we are in the normal “picky” stage of eating where toddlers and preschoolers will eat limited variety and volume one day but  randomly go crazy for carrots the next.   Needless to say, I’ve had to come up with quick and easy ways to entice my girls to interact with foods, building their confidence so they are more likely to try a food the next time I introduce it.

I’ve been playing around with different ways of presenting foods at our meals…. including family style serving (rather than placing individual portions on the kids plates before bringing it to the table), using funky containers,  spontaneous changes to foods that we have on a regular basis, and new eating locations.

1.  Family style serving:  I took the risk of having wasted food via spillage and eyes bigger than bellies!  I now give my girls the occasional opportunity to serve themselves from bigger bowls.  This has a been hit or miss strategy ….. sometimes they are so proud to serve themselves (and us) and are more interested in trying the foods, other times they just enjoy the process.  Either way, they are interacting with non-preferred foods on the road to eating them one day!

2.  Funky containers:  I have served raw veggies in little jars, as well as snacks in muffin trays (an ice cube tray would work too) or tupperwares of their choice.  Funnily enough, they are more willing to try a food if it is presented in one of these ways?!

Putting snacks and meals on a face plate is also an easy way to make food a little more enticing.  Without requiring a degree in food art!  Limited mama creativity required!

I’ve seen nice animal face plates in the tupperware aisle at Superstore and the bad boy below is more of a specialty item.  I have seen the plates below at Steeling Home but they are quite pricey.  You can use sauces or dips to make mustaches or beards, carrot, cucumber sticks, or sprouts to make crazy hair, or even banana coins for earrings.


3.  Changing it up:  I recently pulled out little cookie cutters and made cheese slices into fun shapes or animals.  My girls also love it when I bite a hole in the centre of a piece of meat.  Serving veggies in a slightly new way without changing taste has also been a hit.  I’ve used a peeler to do up carrots in skinny, almost curly pieces rather than the same old sticks.   Cucumbers can be cut in coins or sticks.  Use a melon baller with honeydew or cantaloupe rather than all squares.  I could probably be using the melon baller for more things than I do!

4.  New locations:  I haven’t been consistent with the strategy but I’m going to give it another try.  When my husband is home, we will sometimes have a “picnic” in the living room.   The girls get a kick out of getting their food off a tray that I cart everything on.   They have requested “picnicking” on occasion and just today asked to have their lunch in the noontime sunshine at the back door!  Weird spot but they scarfed down their lunch!

Any other tips that you’ve recently had success with for this stage on the road of raising little eaters?

Our girls ate like crazy on our recent trip to Hawaii.  Not sure if it was lanai meals or just the delicious fruit and fish... better go back!

Our girls ate like crazy on a recent trip to Hawaii. Not sure if it was lanai meals or just the delicious fruit and fish… better go back!

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5 thoughts on “Changing things up at mealtime

  1. Chelsey says:

    I don’t have much to offer in terms of advice…we are going through a similar phase and I love your suggestions. I do want to share an awesome baby/toddler bowl that I found and absolutely love.

    • melissabw says:

      That looks great with the lip!! I can use that at work too. Thanks! Did you order online or find it in a store?

      • Chelsey says:

        I actually found it initially from Zulily. And after just checking now…it seems hard to get anywhere else except the US. I have it checked on my Zulily account to ntify me when they sell them again and can let you know. I was trying to come up with some food changes/tricks…one I love myself is “breakfast for dinner”

  2. melissabw says:

    Definitely let me know if it comes up again!

  3. […] talked about changing things up at mealtime, involving your kids in meal preparation and incorporating books about […]

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