7 Simple ways to get your kids to eat their veggies

Are you tired of fighting with your kids to eat their veggies?

I think this is a battle every parent faces at some point.

We all have different experiences with it and different levels of difficulty, so I’ll just speak from my personal experience on what we have tried that has worked well for our family. I’d love to hear what has worked for you too!

Our kids didn’t have any sensory issues or food intolerances so overcoming picky eating stages was pretty simple for us - try a few different techniques, ditch the ones that didn’t work, and keep the ones that did.

I say simple, but it wasn’t always easy. At the end of the day when everyone’s tired, dinner battles can be really exhausting. If you’re going through it right now, it bites, and you are definitely not alone!

Here are a few ideas that helped us get our kids to eat their veggies:

Serve a favourite with a new or less loved option.

Give your kids something to look forward to as well as something to try. My kids love peas and corn, are a bit ‘meh’ about carrots, and never give a thought to anything else. So I tend to serve peas corn and carrots together, or peas corn and broccoli, etc.

Cook it with something that will make it taste better.

Brussel sprouts by themselves? Gross. Brussel sprouts with crispy bacon? Much more appealing.

If you’re plant-based (I am but my kids aren’t), brussel sprouts with roasted baby tomatoes are lovely!

Or once a week, make a simple pasta sauce with a tin of diced tomatoes and grated veggies like a carrot or zuchini mixed in (or blitz it up at the end before serving so you can't see them easily).

Prep salad veggies for them to snack on while you cook.

The witching hour, when you’re trying to cook dinner but have hangry toddlers clinging to your legs, is so stressful. But it’s the easiest time to get healthy food into them!

Here’s what worked for us: I’d slice up some cucumber, capsicum, carrot sticks, or whatever else I had in my fridge drawer, pop it on a platter and put it next to me on the counter as I cooked dinner. My kids would come in to tell me how starving they were and right as they entered the room I’d grab a carrot stick and bite into it, so of course, they wanted to have what I was having and would ask for some too. They’d get a snack while waiting for dinner, I’d be less stressed at dinner time because at that point, they had already eaten healthy stuff so I didn’t need to coax them into eating it with the rest of their dinner.

Make it fun.

I still remember the day I took the kids to a school holidays workshop at our local wetlands centre and they made “turtles” out of half an apple, carrot & cucumber sticks, and a cherry tomato. The kids loved it and ate it all! We also called broccoli “dinosaur trees”, served veggies in different ways (corn kernels vs corn on the cob with cute handles), and made sang choy bow (lettuce wraps with stir-fried pork mince, veg, crunchy noodles, and pine nuts) regularly. Also, you can put pretty much any veg on a pizza or in a quesadilla and kids love it as they get a little older and get to make their own!

Serve tiny portions and give them a bit more control.

One rule that worked really well for us when the kids went through a very picky eating phase was “you can go back for more of your favourite once you’re done”. We’d serve really small portions of dinner (e.g. tiny piece of meat, 3 peas, 2 carrot pieces, 2 chips or a couple of pieces of pasta) and would tell them they didn’t have to eat it all, but if they did, they could go back for more of their favourite foods. So the kids would eat the veggies in order to go back for more pasta or whatever their favourite part of dinner was. It helped that we never forced our kids to finish their plate, didn’t serve big portions that were hard to finish and didn’t try to convince or coax them to eat.

Eat yours in front of them.

The more they see it, the more normal it becomes. Eat your veggies at dinner like it's no big deal, and have them as snacks as well. Share an afternoon tea platter with cut-up fruit and veg with a few nuts and crackers and make it a regular part of your day. Have a veggie based soup with a toasted sandwich for lunch on weekends and eat it together. Make it more of the main part of the meal instead of the side dish and serve smaller portions of meat. It's cheaper too!

Include them in the dinner prep.

Now that our kids are older, we ask them to choose and cook one dinner each week with us. By default, every diner includes salad or veggies, but the kids get to choose which ones. I find that cooking it themselves makes them more interested in eating it!

I hope you found these tips helpful! if you’re ready for next steps with making dinners easier, you might want to check out my favourite done-for-you meal planning & grocery list service Eat at Home Meal Planning. They do all of the thinking for you and have so many great options for easy dinners!

I’m an affiliate, so if you purchase via my link, I receive a commission.

x Marissa