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If kids were left to their own devices, they would probably eat the same foods every day of the week. That can get frustrating and boring for the grownups in the house. So how do you help your little ones become more adventurous at the table? The same way you teach kids anything—you make it a game.
We have a few ideas to help kids baby step their way into becoming a little bit more of a foodie, so that moms and dads can break out of the weekly food grind.
Make It Familiar
If you find that your kid is more than a little resistant to trying new things at dinner, start with something you know they love. Mac & Cheese is a pretty universal favorite, so try that first. If your kid eats his or hers with hot dogs, next time try changing things up with sausage instead. Go a step further by finding a sausage that has more flavor, like Johnsonville Italian Style With Cheese Chicken Sausage Split Rope. It is in the familiar shape of a hot dog, and also has the cheese and chicken flavors kids tend to like.
Make Them Jealous
If you are a mom, then you know the strange phenomenon of having little fingers grabbing at the food on your plate. "Mommy, I'm not hungry" only seems to last until your food is in front of you. Play this to your advantage by making a dish you know they like with a few additions you want them to try. Then "let" them eat off of your plate. Kids are constantly modeling adult behavior, so this time let them "play grownup" by trying something new.
Make It Fun
Kids love spending time with mom and dad. They also love when mom and dad watch them play (or better yet, join in!). Few things make children happier then being praised for doing a good job. So let's pool all of those things together and bring our favorite little ones into the kitchen. A Mac & Cheese casserole is the perfect recipe to make with your kids. Put out different ingredients and let your kids decide what goes into the dish. Let them taste each ingredient and decide if they think it will work well. For a real experiment, use small individual casserole dishes and make different versions. It is a great way for kids to taste different ingredients without the pressure that goes from trying to get your kids to eat what is on everyone else's plate.
Make It Look Good
Kids love different colors and fun shapes. So mix things up with different-shaped pastas or throw in multicolored veggies. Children are often fascinated by the unexpected. Try tomatoes that are not just red, but maroon and yellow. We found these mini-tomatoes that come in different colors for our Mac & Cheese. Let them try sliced sausages, which looks so much like hot dogs but come with all sorts of the different flavors. You might be surprised what they end up liking.
If you want your picky-eater kid to grow up to be an adventurous adult foodie, start simple. Treat dinner like anything else when it comes to expanding your child's food world. Go slow and make it fun!