I’m a mom trying to cook healthy dinners for a family with very different tastes.  Typically I end up making 3 dinners: one for the family, one for my very picky son, and one for my husband who likes spicy food.  It’s becoming overwhelming!  How can I get everyone to eat the same meal? – Dinner to the Max

Wow, 3 dinners in one day sounds exhausting.  Leave that job for the restaurant chefs!  There are a few things you can do to make life simpler for yourself.  Firstly, try to figure out a few main courses that please everyone, and add these to your normal dinner rotation.  If finding even a few options is tough, you might want to try to make dishes where ingredients can be added at the table.  For example, tacos or fajitas (use the soft shells, not the fried hard shells) are a great option.  Everyone can start from scratch and choose whatever on the table appeals to them.  Soup is always a favorite–try our favorite comfort food recipe Homemade Chicken Penicillin Soup that always gets a thumbs up at the HealthBarn USA table.  Or maybe there’s a dish you can split up into two pans and add something to one pan but not the other.  As an example, you could make tomato sauce in two separate pots, adding turkey meatballs to one but not the other.  This way you’re making essentially the same thing, just slightly tailored one way or another.

The goal, of course, should be to help everyone explore new foods and find dishes that work for everyone.  One of our guiding principles at HealthBarn USA is to help kids connect to their food.  Get your picky eater involved with choosing the recipe, shopping for it, and preparing or cooking dinner alongside you.  This won’t turn him into an adventurous eater overnight, but helping him to feel part of the process should encourage him to eat, or at least try, what he’s cooked.  As for your spice-loving husband, he may be able to add some zing to his own plate without affecting what anyone else eats.  Most kids don’t like spicy foods until they get a bit older, but he might be able to eat the same meal as everyone else, just sprinkling red pepper flakes or hot sauce on his own serving, rather than having an entirely separate meal.

– Stacey Antine, M.S. R.D., author, Appetite for Life, founder, HealthBarn USA

Do you have a confession to share with Stacey?  Want to learn how to improve an unsavory habit?  Send your stories our way to [email protected], and Stacey will help!

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