Low-maintenance eaters are nicknamed "good eaters" for a reason; they're super easy to cook for and dine out with. Indeed, during a meal with a good eater, you never have to worry about whether or not they're getting enough greens, if they'll enjoy your cooking, or if they'll like the restaurant you suggest. Picky eaters are cut from a rather different cloth. To complicate things further, they come in many forms: Some are children with developing palates (or an itch for independence) and thus are more sensitive to taste, some are adults who simply prefer blander flavors, and some have health concerns that require dietary restrictions.
Then there are those of us who are highly adventurous but maintain obscure preferences and aversions, which means we inevitably make adjustments to our orders. Since I fall into the latter category of fussy eaters, I decided to pull together a few recipes that will satisfy everyone. This way, you won't have to settle for pizza every time (not the worst-case scenario, but still). Each healthy meal is simple enough for milder eaters while also packing in enough flavor to spice things up for a well-rounded day of feasting. Scroll through to decide which six healthy meals for picky eaters you want to make for breakfast, lunch, snack, dinner, and dessert (gluten-free and vegetarian options included).
For Breakfast: Oatmeal With a Dessert-Like Twist
Something about oatmeal can just feel a little drab. And since your first meal of the day should get you started on a happy, inspired foot, a soggy bowl of oatmeal is just not going to cut it. That being said, oatmeal is a super-quick recipe to whip up when you're short on time, and it also happens to be really rich in magnesium for heart and bone health, protein for energy and metabolism, and fiber for an efficient digestive system.
This baked cranberry oatmeal recipe from Spoon Fork Bacon is the perfect answer to this tug-of-war, offering all those healthy perks but with a more comforting, appealing texture to those who don't love the classic bowl of oats. Packed with all that good stuff and sprinkled in cinnamon, a splice can be enjoyed by even the pickiest of eaters. It's served like a piece of cake, too, so kids may even believe that it's dessert for breakfast.
For Lunch: Protein-Packed and Textured Bowl
These chicken shawarma bowls from Half Baked Harvest have plenty of texture to keep you on your toes, but they don't call for any super-adventurous ingredients that will displease picky eaters. Plus, you can you always decide to swap out any you don't like, or simply exclude them altogether. The chicken is tender, moist, and juicy while the cheese adds a touch of saltiness, and the quinoa ensures a full, satisfied belly for the remainder of the afternoon. At the same time, each bite of this delicious bowl comes with asparagus, lettuce, avocado, and cucumber, so you can get your greens the tasty way. It's the perfect thing to make ahead of time and pack for lunch since you can toss all into one container.
For a Snack: Summer Salad With a Side of Toast
If you're looking for a healthy after-school snack to hold over the little ones or something you can easily carry to nibble on between meals, this simple summer salad from Mitzy at Home is the perfect candidate. With seasonal, refreshing ingredients that keep things simple as to not overwhelm the taste buds, you can't go wrong. If you're looking for something a little more satisfying or want to camouflage the healthy tomato portion with something a little kid-friendly, pile it on top of a slice of whole-grain bread. It's also light enough to ensure you still have room for dinner.
For Dinner: A Make-Your-Own Taco Spread
Who doesn't love tacos? That's a rhetorical question. If you opt for corn tortillas instead of flour or even if you use lettuce cups instead of tortillas for a carb-free option, the fillings have plenty of wiggle room for ingredients that cater to your taste buds. If you include a few options and plenty of veggies in a spread, then you and the rest of the table can pick and choose what to include as you please. This chipotle chicken taco recipe from Half Baked Harvest is currently on our need-to-try list.
For a Gluten-Free, Vegetarian Dinner: Grains Stacked With Greens
If you or whoever you're cooking for is a vegetarian or gluten intolerant, there are still plenty of delicious meal options for picky eaters to enjoy too. For a satisfying base, seared polenta is always a great grain option that's both wholesome and comforting. This seared polenta recipe from The First Mess is a crunchy, flavorful foundation that'll complement any meal. She tops it with a light summer salad to bring in some greens for vitamins and minerals.
For Dessert: Healthy Ice Cream Sandwiches
For a picky eater with a sweet tooth, opt for this homemade ice cream sandwich recipe from The First Mess. It calls for gluten-free flour and dairy-free ice cream, so pretty much anyone can enjoy it. With sweet maple syrupy goodness, classic vanilla bean flavor, and tangy raspberries, waffle sandwiches are the perfect way to end a day of delicious good eating, no matter how picky you are. Plus, this recipe also calls for chia seeds, which are great for getting your fix of omega-3s fatty acids. And it's just in time to cool off on a summer evening.
What are your go-to healthy meals for picky eaters? Feel free to share any tips or suggestions in the comment section below.