Fixing a meal that satisfies everyone in the family can be a challenge. This is especially true when you have one or more picky eaters in the house. But, it can be done. You can spend less time in the kitchen and still prepare a meal that everyone will like. Each of the meal ideas below has one thing in common – it presents a selection of ingredients and then let’s each person choose the ones they want. Each one takes the “burden” of deciding out of the cook’s hands and puts it into each family member’s hands.
Rather than try to satisfy everyone, the key is getting each person to make their own meal. You can set up the meal so that each person has a selection of ingredients and they get to choose the ones they want. Children especially love this approach. It gives them a level of control over their environment, letting them decide what they will (and what they won’t) eat. It also is a great opportunity to start conversations with your children about the importance of different types of foods, different food tastes, and making healthy choices.
It’s great for picky eaters too. Rather than trying to create something that they may like (sometimes with picky eaters it’s difficult or impossible to know what they will or won’t eat at any given meal), you let them choose. If they get to select what they want, it gives them more control. Remember, it’s just as important to expose them to options as it is to get them to eat it.
Eating meals together is such an important part of family life. Who really wants to spend time in the kitchen cooking a meal that some family members don’t like? We tell our clients that relationships should be the “main course” at meals, and the food should only be a “side dish.” By letting each person make their own meal, you are moving food to the side and putting relationships front and center. The conversations can start in the kitchen during meal prep and continue at the table.
So, here are 5 ideas for quick, tasty meals that each family member can fix their own way:
#1: Omelets in a Bag. Who doesn’t love those “custom” omelets they fix at restaurant buffets? At the same time, who dislikes standing in line while they make one omelet at a time? Using this approach, you can make everyone’s custom omelet at the same time!
Write each person’s name (using permanent marker) on a small, ziplock freezer bag. Mix some eggs in a bowl (2 for each person), and prepare various omelet ingredients – diced ham, peppers, mushrooms, spinach, onions, etc. Let each person put whatever ingredients they want into their own bag. When they’re ready, put a ladle full of scrambled eggs in with their ingredients, seal the bag and drop it into a pot of boiling water to cook. When the eggs are fully cooked, open each person’s bag and pour their omelet onto a plate.
#2: Personal Pizzas. Prepare various pizza toppings – cooked sausage, browned ground beef, ham, pepperoni, onions, peppers, olives, spinach, fresh basil, etc. Make your own pasta sauce or use brands like Prego or Ragu, and shred some cheese. Give each person a personal-sized, ready-made pizza crust (for small children, you can even use half an English muffin or half a sandwich thin), and let them pile on the toppings they like. Sprinkle each pizza with cheese and place them under the broiler until the cheese melts.
#3: Make Your Own Taco Bar. Everybody likes tacos and they’re easy to make. Prepare all the fixings, including browned ground beef, shredded chicken or pork, along with shredded lettuce, tomatoes, olives, peppers, avocado, and cheese. Give each person a warmed tortilla and let them make their own soft taco. You can also use packaged hard shells if you’re family prefers.
#4: Supreme Salads. This one is similar to the taco bar, but you start with a bowl of lettuce and then each person piles on the fixings they like. To make this one even more inviting, try having a selection of different lettuce types too. You can use anything from arugula to romaine to iceberg lettuce. You may find that each person has a preferred lettuce as well as preferred toppings!
#5: Healthy Burgers. There are lots of restaurants that have a large part of their menus devoted to variations of burger. Why not do the same thing at home? Just cook the burgers like you normally wood, either in the oven or on the barbeque, and then provide lots of different toppings for each person to select from. One of our favorites is a burger topped with Swiss cheese, avocado, tomato and lettuce. Use your imagination and see what your family can create!
The focus here is exposing your family to healthy options and to make mealtime fun! When they see you and others eating foods they haven’t tried themselves, they are much more likely to try them too. Over time, this can have a huge positive impact on their willingness to try new things. Make it a fun experience – even an “adventure.”
We hope these quick and tasty meal ideas will get you thinking about other ways to involve the whole family in mealtime. We would love to hear your ideas too. If you have a customizable meal that’s your family favorite, let us know. Maybe we’ll feature it in a future newsletter or in our blog.
Remember, healthy choices you make each day can transform your family for generations! What choices will you make today?
Do You Wish Your Kid’s Ate Better? Check out our FREE eBook at www.HealthyFamilyFuture.com. Many of the strategies in this book can be used by both children and adults.
You may also want to read: Satisfy Your Fast Food Craving and Still Eat Healthy, Are Plant-Based Diets Really Healthier?, Childhood Obesity: Today’s Health Challenge