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Dinner ideas for very fussy eaters – meat

Dinner ideas for very fussy eaters - meat, Judith Yeabsley|Fussy Eating NZ, meat dinner ideas, #dinnerideasforveryfussyeaters, #dinnersforfussyeaters, #dinnersforforpickyeaters, #theconfidenteater, #fussyeatingNZ, #pickyeatingNZ #helpforpickyeaters, #helpforpickyeating, #recipespickyeaterswilleat, #recipesfussyeaterswilleat #winnerwinnerIeatdinner, #Recipesforpickyeaters, #Foodforpickyeaters, #wellington, #NZ, #judithyeabsley, #helpforfussyeating, #helpforfussyeaters, #fussyeater, #fussyeating, #pickyeater, #pickyeating, #supportforpickyeaters, #creatingconfidenteaters, #newfoods, #bookforpickyeaters, #thepickypack, #funfoodsforpickyeaters, #funfoodsdforfussyeaters

Dinner ideas for very fussy eaters – meat

Dinner is frequently crunch time for families. If we are working and the children are at school or Kindy, it seems the only time we have for getting the nutritious food eaten and to work on that pickiness!

However, dinner is NOT the time for teaching our child to eat.

It is though, a great time for role modelling. For showing them what to eat and how to do it easily and pleasurably. Have you noticed that your children seem to pick up on all your bad habits? Or is that just mine? 😉

Much of our children’s learning comes almost by osmosis. They are constantly watching and listening to us and that is where the lessons get learned. Vegetable eating parents produce vegetable eating children – however far off that seems at the moment.

What we do not want to be doing is making dinners the place where the broccoli has to get eaten, or the chicken tried. Although it may seem like the only opportunity for this and that without it, our child will never willingly eat new things, having these pressure situations generally does not help.

But what happens if our child does only have two options that reliably get eaten at dinner? How can we manage that?

My advice is make sure they do have food they are able to eat at the table. No one comes to the table happily if there is nothing that looks worth eating. But at the same time use dinner as the time to show them where they are heading.

Dinner ideas for very fussy eaters – protein

When I talk about protein, most people’s brains jump immediately to meat. However, protein can be found in all sorts of food, including bread and broccoli.

Dinner ideas for very fussy eaters - meat, Judith Yeabsley|Fussy Eating NZ, meat dinner ideas, #dinnerideasforveryfussyeaters, #dinnersforfussyeaters, #dinnersforforpickyeaters, #theconfidenteater, #fussyeatingNZ, #pickyeatingNZ #helpforpickyeaters, #helpforpickyeating, #recipespickyeaterswilleat, #recipesfussyeaterswilleat #winnerwinnerIeatdinner, #Recipesforpickyeaters, #Foodforpickyeaters, #wellington, #NZ, #judithyeabsley, #helpforfussyeating, #helpforfussyeaters, #fussyeater, #fussyeating, #pickyeater, #pickyeating, #supportforpickyeaters, #creatingconfidenteaters, #newfoods, #bookforpickyeaters, #thepickypack, #funfoodsforpickyeaters, #funfoodsdforfussyeaters

In this blog though we’ll talk through the foods that are traditionally thought of as ‘protein’ aka meat.

Meat ideas for very fussy eaters

Some fussy eaters find meat easy to eat and will comfortably eat a range. Many others find most meats challenging with only a few favourites. Others eat none!

Meat can be quite challenging for little ones (or those not used to chewing) as it is tough and requires a lot of effort for the reward. Our jaw muscle, like any other, requires a lot of exercise.

However, whether you have a meat-lover, a nugget only or a no thanks picky eater, let’s look at some options that have been a win for some children.

1. Mince – mince can be a good option as it it’s constituted from small pieces so doesn’t need the same chewing as a piece of steak, for example.

I love mince as it’s budget-friendly and really versatile:

Dinner ideas for very fussy eaters - meat, Judith Yeabsley|Fussy Eating NZ, meat dinner ideas, #dinnerideasforveryfussyeaters, #dinnersforfussyeaters, #dinnersforforpickyeaters, #theconfidenteater, #fussyeatingNZ, #pickyeatingNZ #helpforpickyeaters, #helpforpickyeating, #recipespickyeaterswilleat, #recipesfussyeaterswilleat #winnerwinnerIeatdinner, #Recipesforpickyeaters, #Foodforpickyeaters, #wellington, #NZ, #judithyeabsley, #helpforfussyeating, #helpforfussyeaters, #fussyeater, #fussyeating, #pickyeater, #pickyeating, #supportforpickyeaters, #creatingconfidenteaters, #newfoods, #bookforpickyeaters, #thepickypack, #funfoodsforpickyeaters, #funfoodsdforfussyeaters

i) Burgers – eating burgers can be aspirational as they are frequently thought of as ‘children’s food’ so turn up on a lot of menus and at parties.

If our child is not a burger-fan I suggest going tiny. Rather than serving a full-sized burger, we can offer ‘the world’s smallest’. This can be between two tiny pieces of bread or roll.

ii) Meatballs – often these are a concern because a child can see onions and other foods mixed in. Starting with just meat is a good way to get buy-in if integrated foods are a challenge.

We can add flavour with things like soy sauce, garlic powder or tomato paste which give taste but without changing the look or the texture (and two of the three are vegetables 😉).

If meatballs in a sauce is a no, then serving without is a good idea to start. We can build up to dipping in a sauce.

iii) Kebabs – anything on a stick is more interesting! Wrapping the meat around a skewer to cook or even calling it a ‘popsicle’ can be a great way to get engagement.

iv) Bolognaise/chilli – mixed foods are the most challenging to eat, but if we have a child who happily eats integrated dishes that’s great. If we are able to mix mince with grated veggies and/or sauce then perfect.

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If mixing is too challenging at the moment, then what can we add that may be accepted? Perhaps it is a little salt or some ketchup to start.

v) Other mince – don’t forget chicken, lamb, or pork mince.

When making meatballs, for example, we can often add a little of a different meat to start with.

2. Roast meats – if our child happily eats lamb, beef, or pork, for example, that’s great. If not, I recommend cutting into miniscule pieces for them to get used to them initially.

3. Softer meats – chewy meats can be a negative for many children. My youngest son really dislikes anything he has to really chew, so prefers things like corned silverside.

If textures and chewing are an issue some slower cooked meats can be worth a whirl. If sauces are going to be a challenge, then either cooking in a broth (which adds nutrients) or a sauce that can be removed is a good plan.

As many of these meats are also quite ‘fibrous’, then chopping into small pieces across the fibres is a good idea.

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4. Steak/chops – pieces of meat are a win for some and a big no for others. Again, I would have very small pieces on offer for the hesitant to build more confidence.

5. Ham – ham is frequently a picky eater win. Texturally it is easier to contemplate than many other meats and doesn’t require the tough chewing.

If you do have a ham eater, then perhaps a move to pressed chicken or one of the other texturally similar meats is worth a whirl.

6. Bacon – bacon too is often on the fussy menu. The saltiness combined with the crispiness can be easier to manage than many other meats.

We can also cut it into tiny pieces and use to add flavour to other foods like savoury scones or even salads.

7. Salami/bier sticks – similar to bacon, these are quite popular. Again, I think the texture is more comfortable than other meats. Although they are chewy, they are also more dry. We can also cut into small pieces.

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8. Sausages/cheerios – many picky eaters eat a version of sausages. Sometimes it is just the really processed versions (and yes, needing the skins removed is very common), and sometimes it is all sorts of gourmet specials.

Sausages can be chopped and sliced and served in a variety of different ways, from in a roll to on skewers to on top of pizza.

9. Chicken – possibly the ‘meat’ most commonly eaten by fussy eaters, especially the ‘pre-chewed’ version in nuggets.

i) Nuggets – if nuggets are on the menu, then adding different brands or working towards home-made versions is a great idea. If not, starting with small pieces offered repeatedly is best practice.

ii) Popcorn chicken – this was an idea that started with KFC (I believe). Small pieces of breast covered with panko crumbs, then fried. If you have a nugget fan, these are definitely worth a whirl.

iii) Tenders – these are like next level nuggets as made with regular chicken instead of the composite meat.

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iv) Breast – chicken breast can be either breaded or crumbed to begin with to provide a familiar taste/outer texture. Or can be cut into very small pieces and pan fried.

v) Thighs – if breast is a win, we can gradually move to other chicken cuts like boneless thighs, which can be prepared in the same way as breast. There are additional nutrients in the dark meat over the white too.

vi) Poached chicken – if chewing is a challenge, then it’s worth trying softer options like poached chicken. If we cook it in broth, it also adds additional nutrients.

vii) Chicken mince – we can use chicken like beef mince in many different recipes, like meatballs. We can also crumb and fry like a nugget or make burgers.

viii) Roast chicken – we can always cut our child’s favourite pieces off the whole chicken.

ix) Schnitzel – whether chicken, beef, or pork I think of these like a giant, flat nugget, but using whole pieces of meat.

For nugget-eaters we can move gently towards this by cutting into smaller pieces.

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I had every intention of discussing many other dinner foods, but then realized how much there was to say just about meat! Please use this as inspiration for different ideas to try with your child.

If you know other parents who are pulling their hair out over meals perhaps share some of the blogs with them too.

Judith Yeabsley, The Confident Eater. Judith Yeabsley|Fussy Eating NZ, #helpaddingfoodsfussyeating, #helpfortoddlerfussyeaters, #helpfortoddlerpickyeaters, #helpaddingfoodforpickyeaters, #theconfidenteater, #fussyeatingNZ, #pickyeatingNZ #helpforpickyeaters, #helpforpickyeating, #recipespickyeaterswilleat, #recipesfussyeaterswilleat #winnerwinnerIeatdinner, #Recipesforpickyeaters, #Foodforpickyeaters, #wellington, #NZ, #judithyeabsley, #helpforfussyeating, #helpforfussyeaters, #fussyeater, #fussyeating, #pickyeater, #pickyeating, #supportforpickyeaters, #creatingconfidenteaters, #newfoods, #bookforpickyeaters, #thepickypack, #funfoodsforpickyeaters, #funfoodsdforfussyeaters

Judith, MA Cantab, is an AOTA accredited picky eating advisor and internationally certified nutritional therapist. She works with 100+ families every year resolving fussy eating and returning pleasure and joy to the meal table.
She is also mum to two boys and the author of Creating Confident Eaters and Winner Winner I Eat Dinner. Her dream is that every child is able to approach food from a place of safety and joy, not fear.
Learn more about Judith here: https://theconfidenteater.com/about/