These fun vegetable ideas for cooking, play, eating and growing are designed to encourage kids to try something new. They’re suitable for all kids – not just for picky eaters.
From dislike to antipathy and these days simply ignoring them, the journey to get my kids to like vegetables has been long and in some ways fruitless!
True to form my three children are all completely different. Little S, three, loves vegetables and almost always eats them up first. Miss R, six, is much more typical and likes some veg but refuses others. The ideas that I talk about here are the most likely to work with her – in particular getting her involved in cooking. And Mr R, eight, (the reason this blog started in the first place)? Well he still doesn’t eat any vegetables.
Should you “make” your child eat his or her vegetables?
We had one of my son’s friends over for the day yesterday and he was telling me about how he has a lunchbox at school and it’s full of vegetables. He just couldn’t believe that Ruben “gets away with” (in his eyes) not eating his vegetables. “Why don’t you punish him?” he asked?
The thing is – that I’ve tried it all! I’ve tried reward charts, bribes, threats (not proud of any of those) and nothing works. In fact they all made the situation worse. With reward charts we saw results – but very temporary and I was left feeling with a bad taste in my mouth – oh, so you ate three peas and now you have enough stickers to get a new toy. Hmmm.
Nowadays I just keep on serving up the veggies, eat them myself, let him see his peers and his siblings enjoying them and hope (keeping everything crossed here) that one day he just decides to join us! He no longer recoils or runs away at the sight of vegetables – he just ignores them – which is progress of sorts.
In the meantime I have been working on some new ways to make vegetables fun. Fun vegetable ideas can involve something as simple as how you chop, prepare or serve them or it can be getting the kids involved in cooking, chopping or maybe even growing their own.
Need inspiration? Here are my fun vegetable ideas for kids:
1. Spiralise them
Spiralising is a great way to make noodles or spaghetti out of vegetables. Older kids can even do the spiralising themselves – but watch out for the sharp bits. We have this Gefu spiraliser*. I love it because it does a great job yet hardly takes up any space in the cupboard. I don’t spiralise enough to need something huge.
2. Cooking/chopping with them
I think that cooking with my kids has made the single biggest difference to their eating. It’s probably no coincidence that the most reluctant child to help out in the kitchen is also the pickiest eater. I’m looking at you R. We have the Foost first knife* – you can get 10% off any Foost purchase with the code SNEAKYVEG.
3. Make them into dips
4. Cut them into fun shapes
5. Grow your own
Kids love gardening! Even if you don’t have a garden you can grow herbs or cress on a windowsill and tomatoes or beans will thrive in pots on a balcony. If you want to get creative why not plant a storybook garden as Kitchen Counter Chronicle did.
6. Make cute and fun food
Some kids are way more likely to eat something new if it’s presented in a fun way. Try these celery butterflies from My Kids Lick The Bowl or my ants on a log. Eats Amazing and Fork and Beans also have a huge amount of recipes and ideas for fun kid food.
7. Play with your food
Letting kids play with food is a brilliant way to normalise vegetables and is a great way to get picky eaters interested in vegetables. Little Peeps Eats made a lovely craft carrot patch. Alternatively you could set up a toy greengrocers with your toy food, introduce a colour theme for meals and play as Simply Whole Nutrition did here or even let them play with real fruits and vegetables as a sensory experience.
Pin fun vegetable ideas for kids for later
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