Even the most exotic dish can become mundane if repeated every other Tuesday ad infinitum. But it’s easily done: kids have a reputation for enjoying the same old familiar favourites. Experience tells you that they’ll kick up a stink if you attempt something new, so it’s hardly surprising that you’ve fallen deep into a rut with your family meals. Giving meal planning a try is my go-to advice to anyone who is struggling with teatime Groundhog Day, but there are other ways you might try to get some new meals onto the menu.
TEN WAYS TO INJECT NEW RECIPES INTO THE FAMILY REPERTOIRE
1 – RECIPE BOOK SWAP
If I pop to a friend’s house for a cuppa, you’ll usually find me leafing through one of their cookbooks. I particularly like to sniff out their favourite recipe – pretty easy if I just flick through the pages and let it fall open on a water-damaged page spattered with oil, love; a reminder of good times in the kitchen. Here’s a blog about my favourite latest cookbooks and I feature one every Monday on my Social Media.
2 – THEMED NIGHTS
Make an effort when friends or family are coming to stay and attempt something out of your comfort zone. Try taking a theme for the evening and doing three easy dishes. Rope everyone in to help too. You’ll have loads of fun and gain a few more ideas for meals or flavours that appeal to the kids. Mexican is a great place to start.
3 – MAGAZINES and PAPERS
Food magazines and weekend supplements ride the wave of all the latest trends at a fraction of the cost of a recipe book. In fact, they often feature recipes from the hottest new recipe books. I have started reading The Guardian at the weekends and Delicious magazine every month and I love trying out their recipes and following my favourite columnists. Maybe it’s a subscription you could ask for for Christmas seeing as that’s coming up? My favourite magazines are Delicious, Olive, Sainsbury’s and anything from Good Housekeeping – they often do seasonal or trend-driven one-offs.
3 – PLAYDATES
It can be embarrassing when the kids eat NOTHING at a play date, but it’s also an opportunity for them to try new foods that other families love. Embrace play dates rather than dodge the invites, it’s a good way of exploring new foods and flavours that you could adopt into your repertoire at home.
4 – INGREDIENTS
Try swapping some of the ingredients you normally use rather than the entire dish. For example, did you know you can make carnitas rather than fajitas? It’s simply fajitas made with pork. Or do shepherds pie instead of cottage pie. Or turkey meatballs instead of beef? You could even switch up the usual pasta shapes you use?
5 – SUPERMARKET SWEEP
Avoiding the supermarket is quite a big thing for me, but when I am there, I switch the kids’ begging on its head by letting them choose something from the fruit and veg section. It doesn’t need to be limited to that section alone, but letting them loose anywhere else in the supermarket can lead to problems in my experience.
6 – FREAKY FOODS
Purple sweet potatoes, knobbly celeriac, black pasta and blood oranges – bringing the weird and wonderful foods into our children’s lives can only be a good thing. Find a freaky food and introduce a new family meal as a result.
7 – HOMEGROWN
Find a recipe that the kids would like to make and see if you can interest them in growing the ingredients. I’m a hopeless gardener – love planting the seeds, but I’m terribly neglectful when it comes to long-term maintenance and harvesting. If the children are interested, they can be in charge right up to the point of eating!
8 – PICK YOUR OWN
It’s super trendy to take the children to PYO farms these days, but it’s been around for decades. I remember picking trips to our local farm from a tiny age. Often farms have recipe cards, so you and the children can choose something to cook when you get home.
9 – SAFE FOODS
With all this chat of new foods, you’re probably thinking that your fussy eater won’t touch any of it. Remember to include ‘safe foods’ within the meals so that any fussy eaters can still become familiar by sight, sound, and name of new meals or ingredients whilst still being able to seek something inside the comfort zone for the time being.
10 – SIGN UP TO MY NEWSLETTER
I lovingly pour gazillions of recipes into my newsletter each month along with loads of other exciting content. So, get yourself hooked up and fill in the hot pink sign-up form on this very page (top right if you’re on a desktop & very bottom if you’re on mobile). There is a double opt-in for GDPR, so make sure you confirm your address to avoid wasted effort.