We have many strategies for improving eating outcomes with our fussier eaters and I want to share some of them here.
Try something new day
On a random day of the week, I cook something totally new with ingredients in it that I know the kids are either not familiar with or not enamoured with. I proclaim that it is Try something new day and everyone has to give it a shot. Most of the time it works to at least get them to try the food.
Kids get to choose what's for dinner
Once a month, on the kids' birthday day, they get to pick the dinner. It has to be something that I cook (not take away) and it has to be something that they can help me make. We get a whole lot of requests for fish 'n' chips, but Doo Dah always picks something more interesting.
At least two vegies
I always serve up three or four vegies with meals, and the kids are encouraged to eat ALL of them but they have to choose at least two. Most days I have at least two I know they will eat, but every now and then they have to choose at least one that they don't love as much. I have managed to increase their repertoire to include lettuce, baby spinach leaves, snow peas and beans with this method alone!
Substitute and hide
Once the kids have established that they 'like' a meal e.g. spaghetti bolognaise, I continue to cook it but refine the recipe to make it healthier e.g. substituting brown pasta for white, hiding grated vegetables. I know I have gone too far when it is no longer eaten nor requested!
We don't have dessert every night but try to have it on Wednesdays and Sundays. Absolutely everything must be eaten to be able to have the 'ice cream' component of dessert night. The same concept works for eating cereal before moving to toast.
Whole of week approach
The kids are up and down with eating day to day. Some days I hit the jackpot and they eat a lot, on other days, not so much. I try to take a whole of week approach with them, which means in the 'bad' weeks I push a bit more and in the 'good' weeks, I let them slide if they hit a snag. It is just too dull to fight every day don't you find?
How do you get your kids to eat their dinner?