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Real Meals for Picky Eaters

Chances are you either were one, know one, or have one… The Picky Eater.   Their no-no list is long-long ranging from foods that can’t touch, will only eat white or beige food, or no veggies may be present on the plate.  While your first inclination may be to throw your arms up in despair and continue to make the requisite pasta with butter and salt or dino chicken nuggets, the wise folks at Marcia Selden Catering say STOP, there’s a better solution.

There are a few major reasons most kids don’t like to try new foods.

1-They want to feel a sense of control, so let them be involved in some aspect of the menu and food prep, but make sure to give them two good options, such as melon or pineapple versus, what do you want for dinner?

2-Make sure your kids are actually hungry for dinner.  Most kids come home from school and fill up on snacks so by the time dinner is ready a few hours later, they’re still full!

3-There is NO such thing as kid food and adult food.  Food is food, make one meal for the table, they’ll eat at least part of it.

4-You are the master of the market, only keep foods around that you want them to eat.

5-Eat together, you are their most important role model.  You don’t need to make an elaborate meal to have a family meal, but make sure you sit down together, no screens, even if it’s only for 10 minutes between cello and basketball practice to enjoy a meal.  Don’t get discouraged if your kid won’t eat the new food the first time around, nutritionists say it takes 10-15 times of being exposed to a  new food before they will try it.  Offer, but don’t force or bribe.

Here are Marcia Selden Catering’s favorite family-friendly, picky eater approved dinners.  The best part? You won’t spend more than 25 minutes making any of these meals!

fried rice MSCQuick Fried Rice

This is a great, easy, dinner that the whole family will love.  Start with frozen rice, you can even mix a bag of brown and white rice, once the soy sauce is mixed in, you really can’t tell the difference.  Add in as many different veggies as you can get away with.  At the minimum, add finely diced onions, peas, and corn.

  • 1 Tbs. vegetable oil (sesame oil if you think your kids will eat it)
  • 2 C. assorted vegetables- diced carrots, peas, edamame, onion, corn, onion, peppers
  • 3 C. frozen rice (1 C. each, brown and white)
  • 1 C. cooked diced chicken or ground beef (whatever protein your child prefers)
  • 2 eggs (optional)
  • 2 Tbs. soy sauce

Heat a large nonstick pan on medium high heat.  Add oil and onions and sauté for 1 minute. Add frozen rice and cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.  Add remaining vegetables and protein and cook for 2-3 more minutes.  Crack eggs (if desired) and scramble into rice.  Add soy sauce and stir well before serving.

QuesadillaBarMSCQuesadilla Bar

We love quesadillas because not only are they delish, but we don’t know one kid who doesn’t love making them.  A little prep goes a long way in getting the whole family involved in making customized quesadillas.

Put everything in small bowls and let people make their own.


  • Canned black beans
  • Thinly sliced onions
  • Finely diced peppers
  • Diced tomatoes
  • Corn kernels
  • Cilantro
  • Mozzarella cheese
  • Pepper jack cheese
  • Cheddar cheese
  • Grilled steak
  • Cooked ground beef
  • BBQ pulled-pork
  • Cooked chicken


  • Sour cream
  • Guacamole
  • Salsa
  • Scallions
  • Corn tortillas and Flour tortillas

Ask your kids to help figure out which fillings they’d like.  See if you can get them to help with the slicing, it’s a nice way to spend a few extra minutes together.  Even the little ones can cut using scissors.

Preheat your oven to 350.  Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray.  Place 1 tortilla on a cookie sheet and let each person fill with their desired foods.  Cover with a tortilla and bake for 5-7 minutes until cheese is melted. Using a pizza cutter, slice into 8 pieces and top with sour cream, guac and salsa.

BBQChixbroccMSCBBQ Chicken Pretzel Skewers with Crispy Parmesan Broccoli

Everything is more fun eaten on a pretzel stick.  Why not let your pickiest eater eat dinner with a pretzel stick.  They’re guaranteed to at least try a bite of dinner!

  • 1 lb. chicken tenders, cut into 2” pieces
  • ½ C. bbq sauce
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 C. fresh broccoli florets
  • ¾ C. grated parmesan cheese
  • Kosher salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 425.  Line 2 cookie sheets with aluminum foil.  On 1 sheet, add chicken pieces and bbq sauce.  Cover chicken with foil to form a packet and bake for 12-15 minutes on the lower of the 2 racks.

On the other sheet, add broccoli and drizzle with olive oil and parmesan cheese and a pinch of salt and pepper.  Bake on the upper rack for 12-15 minutes or until the parmesan on the broccoli is golden brown.

Remove both chicken and broccoli and serve with small pretzel sticks, no forks needed!