One of my dearest friends in the world is smart, thoughtful, married to a wonderful man, and is an Ivy League-educated lawyer. For the first seven years of her life she subsisted mostly on buttered noodles. She is now an incredibly healthful eater, excellent cook, and wholly healthy person.
We used to joke that my brother, who graduated from one of the best music schools in the country and now lives out in Los Angeles pursuing his music career, ate a white-only diet: Bagels, cheerios, bananas, pasta, chicken, and scrambled eggs were the only foods he consumed. He didn’t touch vegetables, and he still doesn’t eat red meat. He is turning 30 this summer, and while still not the most adventurous eater, he has expanded his palette tremendously to include berries, apples, shrimp, and even salad on occasion.
Even Kveller’s very own talented editor Molly Tolsky had a serious fear of tomatoes dating back to her childhood, but recently overcame them with the help of her boyfriend and a lot of spaghetti.
I recognize picky eaters are incredibly frustrating for parents. I remember my own mother wanted to kill my brother on several occasions for not wanting to try new foods, but I share these stories only to say: Even if your kid only eats pasta or chicken fingers or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the next few years (or 10) they can still turn out to be perfectionally functioning, well-educated adults with good jobs.
All that being said, it’s tiring to wrack your brain week after week to come up with meals they will actually eat–especially when it comes to Shabbat dinner at the end of a long week. Here are four different menus to ease your load and keep your picky eaters happily fed.
Menu 1: Classic Comfort
Classic schnitzel is usually a crowd-pleaser, but to make it even more appealing for kids, cut chicken cutlets into finger or nugget-sized pieces for optimal dipping. Serve with simple roasted sweet potato fries and veggies with hummus.
Classic Schnitzel from MyJewishLearning
Roast Sweet Potato Wedges from Martha Stewart
Cucumber Slices and Carrots with Homemade Hummus from MyJewishLearning
Menu 2: Dairy Delicious
Kids love when they can dip their foods. These cheesy broccoli patties (which you can also call latkes if that will help get your kids to eat them) are fun to dip in ketchup or tomato sauce. Veggies suddenly become more appetizing when there is yogurt dipping sauce. And who can resist strawberries and blueberries when stuffed with cream cheese filling? No one.
Broccoli Parmesan Patties from Weelicious
Veggies with Creamy Yogurt Dip from Real Simple
Cheesecake Stuffed Strawberries from PBS
Menu 3: The Chicken We Like
One of my co-workers recommends this honey garlic chicken which her kids call “the chicken we like.” Made with soy sauce, ketchup, and honey, it’s pretty similar to a BBQ sauce which we know is a kid-happy condiment. Serve this loveable chicken with simple roast potatoes and maple glazed carrots. Note: You can replace the butter in the carrots recipe with olive oil to make them non-dairy.
Slow Cooker Honey Garlic Chicken from AllRecipes.com
Roasted Potatoes from MyJewishLearning
Maple Glazed Carrots from Budget Savvy Diva
Menu 4: Taco Night
Taco night is great for picky kids and also for Tex-Mex loving adults. Your kids can choose their own toppings, and adults can pair tacos with tequila, which I promise, is the most helpful item you can keep stocked for dealing with picky eaters.
Grilled Chicken from Melissa D’Arabian
Ground Beef from Kids Cooking
Soft and crunchy tacos
Mango pepper salsa from Kitchen Confidante
Toppings: shredded lettuce, guacamole, salsa, chopped tomatoes, chopped onions, black or refried beans, canned corn, olives, fresh cilantro.