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What to make when... there are picky eaters at the table (but you still want to cook something delicious)

Here’s what to make when you want everyone at the table eating – and enjoying – the same meal.

Image: Shutterstock

TRYING TO FIND healthy, tasty meals that everyone in the one family can enjoy can be tricky – and frustrating when your efforts still result in untouched plates from the younger diners at the table.

It can be helpful to think tactically when planning out mealtimes. Many kids have an aversion to veggies, so finding meals that can disguise these are the best meals to have up your sleeve.

Finely chopping up vegetables and adding these to one pots is a good way to incorporate a variety of nutrients is one meal. If there’s a particular food your fussy eater doesn’t like, including a small portion of this along with a meal they do enjoy can also start to build up more positive perceptions.

Check out these kid-friendly recipes that are complex enough to satisfy adult palates too…

Easy chicken jambalaya: This one pot jambalaya is easy to make and can easily be adapted to include or take out any elements of the dish. In a large saucepan, fry sliced chicken fillets until browned, then add in chopped onion, garlic, chorizo, and finely chopped celery. Fry for a few more minutes, then add in 3 cups of rice, 4 cups of chicken stock, fresh thyme and a tin of tomatoes. Stir to combine, then lower the heat, pop the lid on and simmer gently for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the rice is tender and the chicken is cooked. Serve straight from the pot, with some crusty bread.

shutterstock_1269195853 Source: Shutterstock

Shepherd’s pie: Chopping the vegetables up very finely here is a good way to disguise them so that they’re not even noticed. In a pan, fry finely chopped onion, carrots and celery until soft. If you want to use less meat, add in some red lentils at this point, followed by minced lamb, and stir until the meat has browned. Add in two generous spoonfuls of tomato puree, followed by a pint of hot beef stock and some seasoning, stir to combine, then tip into an ovenproof dish. Top with mashed potato (food blogger Laura Carberry uses sweet potato in her recipe) and bake for 20 minutes until bubbling and just browning on top.

Crispy Parmesan chicken: These homemade chicken tenders come together incredibly quickly. Place chicken fillets between cling film, and bash them until they’re just under 1cm thick. Have three plates lined up for the batter; one with seasoned flour, one with beaten eggs, and another with a mixture of grated parmesan and breadcrumbs. Coat the chicken fillets in the flour mixture, then the egg, and finally in the parmesan breadcrumbs. Heat oil in a frying pan, and fry for five minutes on each side until golden. Place onto some kitchen paper to absorb any excess oil, and serve with homemade sweet potato wedges and bean salad.

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Hidden veg minestrone soup: Minestrone soup is perfect for a lighter supper, but this can easily be made into a more substantial meal by serving it with garlic bread. Heat some oil in a large saucepan and fry chopped bacon until browned, then add in diced onion and garlic, and whatever veggies you have in the house: things like carrots, leeks, celery, courgette, peppers and kale all work well. Pour over two tins of chopped tomatoes and 750ml chicken stock, along with two cups of pasta, and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until the veggies and pasta are cooked. If you’re egg or gluten intolerant, The Honest Mum adds beans to her minestrone to replace pasta. Top with a spoonful of pesto and torn fresh basil if your picky eaters won’t mind.

Pork stroganoff: A stroganoff can be easily adapted to include whatever meat/vegetable you prefer, and is a great dish to make ahead and reheat the following day. Fry thinly sliced pork fillet in some olive oil and, once brown, add in sliced onion and garlic and gently fry for 10 minutes. Lower the heat, add in a pinch of paprika, a teaspoon of dijon mustard and a dash of hot water. Stir to combine, then add in a small tub of sour cream. Remove from the heat and serve with wholegrain rice or pasta. Nastasha’s Kitchen features a great slow cooked version for really tender meat.

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