I get so many messages asking for meal ideas or what tips and tricks I have for feeding my kids. I am no expert and trust me, my kids are picky and some days I'm sitting all evening pulling my hair out just trying to get my kids to eat something and some days they just eat what they are given. But I have found a few fail proof meals I absolutely know they will eat without a fuss, including my baby who is 15 months.
I try to cook meals we can all eat and try my best for them to see that we are eating the same kinds of food. I think it makes a huge difference when you feed them what you eat for them to develop a palette and see that we are all enjoying the same meal. The rule in our home is "if you've tried it 5 times, and still aren't enjoying what you're eating, then you can say I don't like it."
As for baby food, I never really put effort in pureeing too much. Once they got to 8 or 9 months I slowly started putting soft food, in small pieces, in front of them to help them develop their palette with textures. Also allowing them to try grabbing it themselves really helped build their fine motor skills along with coordination. Yes it was messy and usually ended with a shower but it allowed them to understand what meal time is and how to self feed.
So here are some of my top recipes/foods my boys love.
These are a no brainer and so healthy for you! If you can purée and want to hide food from your picky eater than make smoothies! My eldest son is super picky and has a texture issue and smoothies were one way for me to get food in him. Add all kinds of nutrient dense foods and tell them it's juice or a thick ice cream smoothie bowl. I add everything and the kitchen sink, rice, cauliflower, you name it I add it! My kids will drink it with no fuss, even during bath time, as long as the base is flavors they recognize. Above are a few they love.
Pizza is something every kid loves, heck even adults but when made in smaller fun shapes or at home with healthier ingredients, it keeps your mind content and knowing what all is going into these tiny bodies. Here's my 10 Minute Dough recipe I use often, which also freezes well.
Turn this dough into delicious pizza or mini meat pies and I'm sure the whole family will be eating dinner that night.
Serve the pizzas or mini pies with a side salad like my Maftoul Couscous Salad (recipe here) or sub the Pearled Couscous with quinoa. My baby loves picking the little dots of quinoa with his fingers and enjoys the juicy Persian cucumbers in the salad. I split the salad and let the boys add what they like. My eldest eats the quinoa or couscous plain or filled with lots of cheese but no veggies. It’s something we’re working on but at least he’s eating something.
Chicken 65 Pizza (recipe here) is also a great favorite amongst the boys!
3) Cheese Board
My kids are big snackers. They love a good well rounded snack or cheese board. A little bit of fruit, a few pieces of bread, some crackers and dip and they are the happiest kids in the world. And what's great is everyone can pick what they like and enjoy at the same time, including baby!!
Here's one of my go to dips: Grapefruit Kale Guacamole (recipe here) . I have the full step by step tutorial on my Instagram highlights in my profile. Another great dip they love is Hummus (recipe here) . I add a delicious olive tapenade on the side and it's something my olive loving second son absolutely loves, but it can be omitted with no fuss for the picky eaters.
Flatbread, also known as Roti is another favorite amongst my carb loving boys. They can eat it plain, they will eat it rolled with a Kabob or egg and even with some strawberry jam or good ol' chocolate spread. It's a great take on the go item and something I know will fill them up.
You can grab the recipe for my Homemade Roti here!
My boys also love a good plain Naan (recipe here). It took some time to slowly start incorporating other flavors into the Naan like a brush of garlic butter or stuffed with ground beef. It had to become kind of like a game...”you want sprinkles on your Naan?! How about white sprinkles (sesame), let’s make it colorful with a few green leaves (cilantro) or shiny with some ghee (recipe here) or butter. Get them involved, it gets them excited and they will most likely eat it if you become enthusiastic and let them join in the kitchen.
Spiced Béchamel Chicken Bread is another great one. It’s like a meat pie only bigger and you can cut it up for lunches or for post game snack. My boys love this bread after a soccer game or if we have to rush out the door for an activity.
5) Chicken Nuggets and Mac & Cheese
I love items my kids can eat on their own without much supervision. It makes my life easier and I don't have to be sitting and feeding them for hours. A no fail go to are these Chicken Nuggets (recipe here) that also freeze well if you make them in bulk.
Another favorite is Mac & Cheese (recipe here) and White Cheddar Mac & Cheese (recipe here) . This is one, my older boys can even help me make. The macaroni can be switched to mini pasta for babies and they can eat it on their own and enjoy the cheesy flavors.
6) Bagel / Toast
Bagels and toasts are another great way to get your kids to eat. Open faced, in a sushi roll form or the traditional good ol' sandwich. My boys, especially the baby loves toast. The older boys love bagels, with cream cheese or even as pizza. This is a nice twist from all the carbs and "hiding veggies" by making a Sweet Potato Toast. I shared the recipe on my Instagram (here) and it's always something that gets eaten up. My boys all have different preferences, so these are pretty versatile to your child's liking. Here are some favorite combos my kids love:
Avocado & Egg
Nut Butter & Bananas
Cottage Cheese, Berries & Honey
Hummus, Tomatoes, & Cucumbers
Coming from a South Asian background, curries are a true staple. It's something we grew up eating often as kids and something I hope my boys grow up remembering and enjoying. My boys love a good curry and rice. I don't make it spicy for them, either lessening the amount of chili going in or omitting it all together so they can enjoy it.
I have many curry based dishes on the blog but here are a few of their favorites:
Shakshuka Egg Curry
Khausay (Khao Suey)
Memon Green Coconut Curry
Serve any of these with rice, bread or noodles and I’m sure they will enjoy it!
Rice is another great way to fill your children up and keep them full. Pulao was a staple we grew up eating. It's a rice pilaf full of aromatic spices and meat stock which is very nutritional and hearty. I made a crockpot version with a live step by step on Instagram but this recipe can easily be made on the stove top as well. A go to when my kids are coming down with a cold or just being fussy and not eating properly.
Here are a couple Rice dishes they love:
Kabuli Pulao with or without meat
Or Traditional Maqloobeh
NYC Style Halal Cart
Let's be real...who doesn't love pancakes?! Another favorite for my boys is pancakes. Time of day doesn't matter, my boys will eat pancakes for breakfast, lunch or dinner if I let them. The plus? They are soft enough for baby to enjoy as well.
My boys love mini pancakes and sometimes I swap out the traditional recipe for something a little more healthier. Occasionally I will purée:
1 tbsp Ground Oats
Cook 'em up and enjoy! Sometimes a sprinkle of colorful sprinkles is all you need to get them excited!
German Dutch Pancakes are also a great alternative. Garden Dutch Baby is usually made for brunch or the sweet variation I also show is a weekend dessert if I’m feeling the energy, but these Dutch Pancakes are some the boys will definitely gobble up.
This is a no fuss meal always. Over night oats is something I shared in my Meal Prep Guide here, and it’s something my younger two boys love. Stove stop oats following the package instructions is also something my 15 month old enjoys, especially now since he’s teething and giving me a hard time with eating. It’s soft and something I know he will be full off of.
Savory Oatmeal (recipe here) is another type my boys love and it’s really hearty and healthy for growing babies and kids. It’s a spin off of haleem and something I make often even for myself!
Whether you have a picky eater or just a baby who you're trying to introduce different foods to, just remember take baby steps. As I said I'm no pro, and still learning through my children. These are just foods or tips that have worked for me in encouraging my boys to try something new or to make meal time less stressful. They may not eat everything at once, but that's ok. Just encourage but never push, they will come around and thank you later. I'm living proof! I went from being the most pickiest eater to sharing and writing about food. All thanks to my mom!