How to get your kids to eat the food you’ve prepared

(BPT) – Do you have a standoff with your children each night at the dinner table? Are you encouraging them to eat the foods you’ve prepared while they’re suspiciously eyeing it, refusing to eat a bite? Many children go through picky eating stages, and parents typically need to be a bit creative to get them to consume a well-balanced diet.

If you have been losing the dinnertime standoff with your children, consider some of these tips so you can discover new ways to get your kids to eat the foods you want them to eat.

* Mommy’s (and Daddy’s) little helpers – When children prepare foods, they’re more likely to want to taste the food. Ask your kids to help you with making sandwiches, mixing and measuring ingredients or any other tasks they’re able to handle depending on their age. As they participate in the making of dinner, they can see, smell and taste all the ingredients being used, making it easier for them to understand that the final product contains a lot of delicious tastes – and that it’s not something they need to be wary of. To take this tip one step further, ask your children to choose one ingredient in the grocery store they want to try for dinner that week. To mix things up, pick a different department of the store each week – rotating from fresh produce to canned foods, and from meats to frozen foods. Or to make it a challenge, ask them to pick a food item that’s orange one week, and red the next. It’s a great way for all family members to try new foods.

* Mix it all up – Another trick is to blend ingredients your children find suspicious into foods they love. If you can’t get your child to eat carrots, for example, blend them in a food processor and throw them into your spaghetti sauce for a delicious boost. If eating spinach is a struggle in your family, try this Cheesy Hashbrown Taco Dinner recipe they’ll love. It combines delicious hashbrown potatoes with cheddar cheese and an array of colorful vegetables in a recipe that is fun and easy to prepare. The Hungry Jack Cheesy Hashbrown Potatoes and Mashed Potatoes require no refrigeration and can be stored in your pantry.

Cheesy Hashbrown Taco Dinner

Prep time: 12 min.

Cook time: 15 min.

Makes: 6-8 servings


1 carton (4.2 oz.) Hungry Jack Cheesy Hashbrown Potatoes

1 pound lean ground beef or turkey

1/2 cup chopped onion

1 package (1.25 oz.) taco seasoning mix (Or substitute 4 teaspoons chili powder, 2 teaspoons ground cumin, 1 teaspoon garlic powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt)

1 package (16 oz.) frozen chopped spinach

1 can (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes

1 can (15 oz.) black beans, rinsed and drained

1 can (15 oz.) whole kernel corn, drained

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Tortilla chips or warmed tortillas, optional


1. Add hot water (minimum 120 F) to level of fill line on hashbrowns carton. Close carton. Let stand 12 minutes.

2. Brown ground beef or turkey and onion in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Drain fat. Stir in seasoning mix.

3. Add spinach and stir until thawed.

4. Drain any excess liquid from hashbrowns carton. Stir hashbrowns, tomatoes, black beans, corn and spinach into beef. Cook until heated through, about 5 minutes.

5. Sprinkle cheese over top; cover and cook on low heat until cheese is melted, 3-5 minutes. Serve as is with tortilla chips or wrap in a tortilla.

* Change the shape or texture – Some children will only eat fresh veggies if they’re cut into sticks. Others want the wedges, and yet others medallions. If you are artistic, get large cookie cutters in animal shapes and cut a sandwich into the shape of their favorite animal. That might be all it takes to entice your children to dig into the meal you’ve made. You’ll also discover children will have preferences regarding how the food is cooked. For example, some children love canned veggies, while others will only eat fresh vegetables with salad dressing or a certain type of dip. Don’t always serve mashed potatoes, but vary the offering using hashbrowns as a side dish for dinner. As they get older, your kids will observe other kids eating foods in different ways and may want to experiment, so be prepared if they suddenly change their minds about what foods they will and will not eat.

Patience is the key thing for parents with picky eaters. Be patient and understand that as your children grow, their preferences will change. Try these tips to encourage your children to expand their palate so you can eliminate the dinner table standoff each night. For additional recipe ideas, visit

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