Some people find cooking rewarding and peaceful; I find it feeling comparable to fighting a battle and I am the sergeant in charge, the negotiator and the victim all wrapped in to one.
I typically feel this way because my family is so picky about what foods they will eat and not eat. My husband is a meat and potatoes kind of guy; his thoughts on food are: the more the better. One of my daughters is a strict vegetarian and the other daughter does not call herself a vegetarian; however she will not always eat certain meals with meat. Depending on the day, my girls will say they do not like a specific food that they had just liked the day before. I will personally pretty much eat anything, but I think it is because my family is so diverse in food choices and picky that I am too tired to care what goes in my mouth.
Dealing with cooking and meeting everyone's food desires and needs is a daily ordeal; however there are some tips and steps I have come up with that have seemed to relieve some of the stress of dealing with my family's eating choices and requests.
Tip for Picky Eaters #1: Make a Menu Ahead of Time
Some weeks my family will come up with the weekly meals together and I will plan a one week menu out. I will go over the weekly meals with my family and see what food sides we can add or delete from the daily main meals so that everyone is happy. Planning out the meals for the week and posting them on the refrigerator really seems to help with the picky eating because we came up with the menu choices together as a family and everyone knows what to expect each day so there should be no complaints.
Tip or Picky Eaters #2: Cook Items Separately
I have noticed it works better for my family when I cook food items separately instead of mixing things together. For example, my daughters do not always like mushrooms but my husband and I do, so when I make spaghetti sauce I will cook the mushrooms separately and then who ever wants to add mushrooms to the sauce can. This method does take a little longer, but for me it is worth it because I do not have to deal with anyone complaining about particular foods.
Tip for Picky Eaters #3: Appetizer Night
Everyone in my family seems to love certain kinds of appetizers, so on a night once in awhile I will designate as appetizer night and our dinner for the evening will just be appetizers. I cook a variety of appetizers that I know everyone likes and when dinner is served, each family member chooses their favorite appetizers to eat. It is always a very filling and satisfying dinner.
Tip for Picky Eaters #4: Everyone Takes a Night to Cook
Sometimes each family member chooses a night to cook dinner for the family, making sure that the food choices are good for everyone in the family. I have noticed when everyone takes a turn cooking, it makes each person appreciate how difficult it can be to cook for a family while making sure each member of the family is happy with their meal. Obviously this tip for picky eaters would work the best when the children of the family are old enough to cook but younger children could assist a parent in thinking of a meal and helping with cooking it.
Tip for Picky Eaters #5: Cut up Food Small and Hide it in Other Food
This tip for picky eaters is not always a sure success tip but it has worked for me, especially when my daughters were younger and did not always realize what was in their food. Cutting up certain foods really small and hiding them in other foods such as sauces is many times very successful.
Taking care and pleasing a family of picky eaters definitely takes some time, some careful thought and lots of planning. I feel the energy spent on pleasing picky eaters is well worth the effort because the other side of the coin is listening to complaining and unhappiness and that to me is more emotionally draining than anything else!