Feeding a picky eater can be tough, especially if you are trying to eat healthy. Use meal prep Sundays as a way to make feeding any picky person easier.
Meal Prep Sundays: Healthy Meal Planning for Picky Eaters
Those of us who love food can't understand being a picky eater. But there are lots of picky eaters in the world today. And picky eaters are not just toddlers and little kids. Picky eaters come in all shapes, sizes, and age ranges. Often, picky eaters are also not getting enough nutrients, and trying to feed a picky eater healthy food that nourishes them can feel extremely difficult. One tool to use to help feed picky eaters is meal prep Sundays.
If you gather the family together on Sunday, you can all agree on recipes that you'll want to eat throughout the week. Then you can either pre-prep ingredients to cook each night, or you can pre-make meals that you heat up and eat as the week progresses.
By doing communal meal prep on Sundays, you can make everyone, including your picky eater, feel invested in the cooking process. In turn, they may be more likely to try the food they contributed to making. Further, by shopping and prepping elements of the meal in advance, you can make each mealtime far less stressful, even if your picky eater ends up protesting or hesitating.
How to Encourage Healthy Eating
Encouraging healthy eating can be difficult for anyone. However, with picky eaters, it is particularly challenging — especially if they tend to only like a limited list of non-nourishing foods. However, it is possible to encourage picky eaters to eat healthily. One way to do it is to educate picky eaters about the importance of nutrition. Determine what important nutrients are lacking in the picky eater's diet. Then explain to them how any health issues or physical complaints they currently have could be linked to the things that are missing in their diet.
Another way to encourage healthy eating is to show the picky eater that you can incorporate healthy ingredients into nearly any food. Get them to try new foods and realize that they like them. Does your picky eater like cake but not zucchini? Make a zucchini cake that tastes like a warm cinnamon muffin. After they've had and liked the cake, explain that they just ate zucchini. Does your picky eater like chocolate but not protein-rich foods, like meat or dairy? Add some protein powder into a chocolate smoothie. You can demonstrate that it's possible to have healthy ingredients that taste good and still resemble the items on their limited list.
Knowing what healthy foods can be incorporated into a picky eater's diet can help make meal prep Sundays even easier since everyone will be in agreement about what ingredients can be used in dishes.
Do you want to make sure you are picking healthy, fresh ingredients that are in season this spring? Check out our guide to healthy springtime food ideas. You can get a sense of what the tastiest and most nutritious ingredients are right now, then make sure you're incorporating these elements into the dishes you make during meal prep Sundays.
Which Nutrients Are They Missing and Why?
If you don't have any idea what nutrients are missing in a picky eater's diet, learn about what is most commonly lacking in a person's diet. Usually, a person who is a picky eater lacks iron. Iron is found in red meat and dark green cruciferous vegetables, among other things. The foods it is in can be tough in texture or strong in taste, which may make them off-limits for a picky eater.
Picky eaters might also lack zinc. This healthy mineral is essential for our immune systems, but it is often found in non-processed foods like whole grains, meat, fish, and dairy. If your picky eater leans toward a bland or non-colorful diet of processed food items, they are likely to be missing zinc.
Finally, picky eaters are usually not getting enough carotene. Carotene is found in carrots. You can also get it by eating most other brightly colored vegetables. Does your picky eater eschew veggies? They'll likely lack carotene and suffer some health consequences if it is not supplemented.
How to Incorporate Those Nutrients
Ultimately, most picky eaters are lacking the nutrients that come with vegetables and proteins. While it may take some cajoling, involving your whole family, including the picky eater, in meal prep Sundays is a good way to start ensuring that they consume enough of what is missing from their diet.
Start by sitting down and agreeing on recipes together. Create a long list of foods that can be altered by adding vegetables or proteins to them.
Once you've made your menu for meal prep Sundays, go to the grocery store and shop together. Kids especially will enjoy cooking with ingredients they picked out. They may also feel more likely to try food that they personally cooked.
Go home and either prep the meals to be cooked for the five weekdays ahead or pre-cook meals. When your kid or picky eater has spent time agreeing to the menu, shopping for the ingredients, and cooking the food, they are more likely to at least try the things you've cooked. And, if you're lucky, they'll like what was made — and agree to eat it again! One step toward nourishment for all.
If you are going to shop for the healthiest nutrients you can, especially if you are trying to feed a picky eater who needs them, plan your grocery trip in advance. If you're planning to use only fresh, whole ingredients to upgrade everyone's diet, expect to shop around the edges of the grocery store. Learn why you can avoid the inner grocery store aisles as you teach your picky eaters to like healthier foods and ensure they are nourished.
Snack and Meal Ideas
Here are a couple of meal or snack ideas you can make on meal prep Sundays that might appeal to a picky eater.
• Zucchini cake: This is a rich, cinnamon-flavored cake with zucchini baked into it — a good way to get green vegetables into someone's diet who prefers carbs.
• Egg rolls: If your picky eater likes pork and cabbage egg rolls, make some homemade eggrolls with a few stir-fried bright-colored vegetables thrown in. Use the same dipping sauce as always, and you'll have your picky eater eating a slew of different produce in no time.
• Smoothies: Smoothies are a good place to add in vegetables because they have so many flavorful ingredients that the flavor of the vegetable is often overpowered. This can make smoothies very palatable to a picky eater.
• Noodle dishes: If your picky eater eats noodle dishes like ramen or lo mein, add in some cooked proteins such as chicken, steak, or fish. Cut the protein into thin strips and stir-fry the meat in with the noodles. When your picky eater gets a bite of protein along with their noodles, they are likely to not notice it — or more likely to enjoy the taste or texture.
Looking for great recipes that are packed with nutrients and sure to boost the immune system? Check out our guide to healthy immune-boosting recipes here. Each of these recipes will lead you to create a healthy dish, and you can use them all on meal prep Sundays. Try to incorporate elements your picky eater likes, plus those that they need. That way, you can ensure you're nourishing everyone properly and that everyone will eat what's been cooked when mealtimes roll around.