I work with some picky eaters who are incredibly reluctant to try new things. Even more difficult, I have a picky eater who doesn’t like to try new things but also doesn’t like to have the same things too often or he gets burnt out and doesn’t like them at all anymore. It’s a tough situation that I’ve been struggling with for years. I have gotten him to try new things and have definitely expanded his “Things I’ll Eat” list. But there’s still a lot of room for things to improve.
For help, I decided to re-read the chapter from “No Whine with Dinner” that lists lots of tips for getting picky eaters to try, and hopefully enjoy, new foods. There’s some great ones, and it seemed like a lot of them were pointing towards the same main idea- get the kids involved, and find ways to make the experience fun and positive. I’m hoping to get Mr. 7 in the kitchen helping me pick out recipes and cook them, but until we can get that started, I decided to work on the “fun and positive” part. Soooo…
I decided to open up my own restaurant! It’s called “Amy’s Fancy Bistro”. It’s not real, of course, but I tried to make it feel as real as I could. I went to Target and got plastic plates, bowls, and cups that look like they’re fancy porcelain and crystal. I didn’t want them to worry about the dishes accidentally breaking. I put on pretty piano music (Thanks Pandora!) I dimmed the chandelier in the formal dining room and lit a vanilla-scented candle. I put their plates on nice placemats and folded their napkins neatly with their forks on top. And when I put their food on the plates, I made sure it was presented as prettily as I could make it, like an expensive restaurant would.
For dinner, Chef Amy served Crispy Chicken Bites (chicken breast cut into small chunks, rolled in olive oil and then breadcrumbs, and baked at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes or until cooked through and slightly browned), Roasted Squash Noodles (spaghetti squash), lightly buttered and topped with grated Parmesan cheese, and Freshly Diced Strawberries, dusted with powdered sugar and a small star of Whipped Topping (from an aerosol can- don’t judge, it’s all there was in the house). The beverage of the night was chocolate milk.
The kids were asked to call me Chef Amy, and I gave them some simple etiquette. Food shouldn’t be eaten with fingers unless the Chef says it’s ok to. If you like the food, please compliment the chef! If you don’t care for something, the chef would appreciate some feedback about could be better, but be careful not to insult the chef. And the last rule- Enjoy your meal and let your server (me) know if there’s anything you need.
They LOVED the whole thing. There was no arguing or pestering each other, no whining, no bad manners, and best of all, they tried everything on their plate without being asked! Neither of them liked the squash, which was the one brand new item on their plates, but I didn’t have to fight them to give it a try, and they gave me feedback about what they didn’t enjoy about it (it seems to mostly be the texture of it). And I got more compliments on the other things than I ever have at dinner before! It was a win-win for all of us, and they can’t wait to do it again next week! I’m hoping that Mr. 7 can give me ideas for recipes to try from the cookbooks I got at the library. And if he doesn’t, I’ll come up with something interesting and delicious! So all in all, the experiment was a huge success!
PS- this is how my bistro looks in my imagination: