You have tried everything to avoid mealtime struggles with your picky eater. You made sure there were no onions on burgers. You confirmed that the tomatoes never touched the tacos.
You camouflaged eggs with cheese. You even kept it simple by serving plain chicken tenders for several nights.
Some days your little one takes a bite or two, and the next day the food ends up in the trash.
“At this age, a child learns that he has a lot of control over his parents’ behavior, and that can be fun,” Melanie Potock, a pediatric speech-language pathologist, feeding specialist, and author of Adventures in Veggieland, said in an article. “Rejecting foods is one way to exert his toddler power.”
However, with food prices rising into the double digits, wasting food is no laughing matter. For example, the cost of ground beef rose by over 14 percent and eggs by 22 percent from last year.
DYK: The U.S. Department of Agriculture expects all food prices to rise between 4.5 and 5.5 percent this year.
Due to increasing inflation, the cost of gas just to get to the grocery store is cause for concern for many U.S. families. Even food banks are dealing with higher food costs causing many empty shelves, which has traditionally been a source of relief for those low-income families who face food insecurity.
DYK: According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, food at home prices skyrocketed 10.8 percent over the last 12 months, the largest 12-month increase since November 1980. Meat, poultry, fish, and eggs increased 14.3 percent over the previous year, the largest 12-month increase since May 1979.
Spending more on food doesn’t mean your child will eat more.
Here are five expert tips to save money, reduce waste, and encourage your picky eater to take a big bite out of happier, healthier meals.
- Create a Grocery Game Plan. Save money, choose healthy options, cut prep time, and reduce food waste with MyPlate’s Grocery Game Plan. Use this weekly calendar to combat rising food prices by planning meals with your child in advance. Add photos and recipes for each meal, so your picky eater knows what to expect. Your #MyLittleChef can also use this Grocery Plan calendar for recipes.
- Let Your Little Chef Cook. When you cook with children, you create family bonds and encourage healthy eating habits that will last a lifetime. Try the fun, colorful recipes your picky eater will love to make and eat. Clip coupons and read kid-friendly recipes together. Take a trip to the grocery store or farmers market. Purchase affordable, seasonal fresh produce. Encourage your little chef to smell, taste, and feel the ingredients.
- Remix Their Veggies. This creative and fun tip from Parents magazine recommends serving vegetables in non-traditional ways such as smoothies, hand pies, dips, and kabobs. It’s all about presentation. The more eye-catching, the more likely your picky eater will eat. Tip: Use cookie cutters to cut veggies into shapes or happy faces.
4. Taste Test. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that you offer your picky eater a variety of healthy meal options, and their appetite and eating habits will change over time. Use coupons to purchase new food in smaller quantities to avoid food waste. Tip: Take advantage of food samples from grocery stores and farmers markets. Your little one may try and like something new.
5. Buy On Sale and in Bulk. If your picky eater refuses to try new food, save money by buying favorites on sale and in bulk. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics says that before buying larger quantities, make sure you have enough storage space and eat the food before it spoils.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), picky eating is often the norm for toddlers. Share your concerns with your pediatrician. The key here is to create a budget that works for you and your little one. As food prices rise, your picky eater tastes and food choices will continue to develop.
“Childhood is when most food habits are set, including the types of foods people will eat later in life,” the Director of the Doctor Yum Project, Heidi DiEugenio, said in an article. “Parents play a very powerful role in helping their children to have a diverse palette, as well as learning to eat healthy foods and being more aware of food waste. It’s never too soon or too late to focus on such important family issues.”