A great way to get kids invested in food — and have a wider palate — is to take them to the grocery store. Young kids love to learn their colors, feel the produce, smell things, and talk with mom.
Even my sensory defensive kid, overwhelmed by the lights and noises of our cavernous store, would go, wearing a hood or baseball cap — and if he could get in those enclosed grocery carts that look like cars (right) and “drive” around, he was in heaven. Some sensory kids like ‘heavy work’ like carrying potatoes or a bag of flour.
My dear friend ran her family produce market, and I can’t recommend a small family place strongly enough! Often she would have cut a melon or ambrosia apple or blood orange, and would give a little slice to the kids. I credit her with a lot of our family’s health and regularity! It was a great experience of community while it lasted.
Around kindergarten, we let the kids pick out our vegetable for dinner, or asked them to pick something new to try. The grocery store is also a wonderful place to learn early math and learn to read!
Mine are past this age, and my 11-year-old son has started to protest that he can stay home. And we have let him.
But we went to the store as a family recently, and I learned a LOT!
Thing 1 was a micropreemie, intubated, and sensory defensive. He gags on gravy and yogurt textures.
So I have always served his food plain, and reserved the savory, tangy, and spicy sauces for us parents. We went through the frozen food aisle and he pointed to the pictures of foods he thought he would eat. They had sauces!
I had him pick out a vegetable, and for a change, we did get a frozen dinner (chicken pasta ranch something or other). I feel your frustration with your picky eaters, believe me I do! But I’ve learned that it is an ongoing relationship with food that we are cultivating; kids’ tastes change frequently and without notice, and given the opportunity, they usually want to eat something delicious and just need a little guidance.
I have a lot more to say about picky eaters! I’m giving a free call Monday, November 10, at 12 noon. Sign up here to join me, and if you can’t make the live call, you can listen to the recording.