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Our Favourite Ways to Introduce New Food to Your Children

Not all children are interested in trying new types of food - but no matter how picky your little eaters are, there are ways to persuade them to be more experimental


Every child is different, but in general we are all happy to become creatures of habit when it comes to food. How often do you reach for your cookbooks or Google new recipes? If the answer is often - you deserve props! If the answer is 'rarely' - you are not alone.

Many of us find our shopping carts filled with the same food week after week. We know what we like and, to be honest, why mess with a good thing? However, trying new food is not just good for our diets, it's also a good way to foster a sense of adventure in your children - and it makes visiting other people's homes a lot easier too.

As with most things, the more involved your children are in what you are doing, the more likely they are to join in - and in some cases even do so with enthusiasm.

Start small

Introducing new food to your children - buy something new from the grocery store Take recipes you know everyone likes, and mix them up a little. If you normally make Spaghetti Bolognese, think about what other vegetables you can add, or leave the meat out of your weekly curry recipe and substitute it with butternut squash. Maybe you can simply swap fries for sweet potato fries. Getting everyone used to small changes will put you in good stead for making bigger changes down the line.

Don't fill their plates with these new ingredients and insist that they eat them - start with small tastes - and make sure everyone at least tries them.

Make a list

Once you've started adding things to your regular recipes, brainstorm a list of things you would all like to try - this might include specific vegetables like plantain and aubergine, or it might include recipes like goulash or sag aloo. Start with things you know, or that the children have heard of. Take inspiration from playdates they've been on where they have tried something new that they think everyone would enjoy, or go to the market and find fruits and vegetables you've never seen before.

Once you've got a list, post it somewhere so that you can cross off items once you've tried them. Leave space at the end of the list to add new items that you discover along the way, and make a deal with yourself to try one new item each week.

Cookbook challenge

Decide on a type of food you like - or a celebrity chef you've all heard of - and buy their a cookbook or find a collection of their recipes online and try a new recipe once a week. Pick a day when everyone is at home to help, and get stuck in. You can include a trip to the shops or just make sure you have all the ingredients on hand.

Once you all get used to following recipes, you can start to experiment, adding new things to old favourites - you'll be amazed at how delicious some of the creations will be. Some will end up as massive fails - but think of the fun you had making it, and the time you spent together - there's always peanut butter and jam sandwiches!

Meal swaps

Cook together as a family to introduce your children to new food

If you're really adventurous, why not suggest a meal swap with friends. Whether it means a dinner date for the family or a meal in a container that you swap at the school gates, think about your family's favourites and what you could share. Maybe your partner makes a killer stew or your lasagne is out of this world. Maybe you've got an old family recipe for sauerkraut or kimchi. Either way, knowing you can try something totally new, and sometimes out of your comfort zone once a month, is something to look forward to.

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