Meal Planning for Picky Eaters

meal planning for picky eaters

Meal planning for picky eaters can be a nightmare! How do you meal plan when the members of your family have different eating restrictions or preferences? Maybe you have kids who are picky eaters, a family member with a food allergy, or you’re the only vegetarian in your house.  This can create extra work for you, but most of the time it’s not necessary for you to cook two completely different meals.  Here are tips to ease your frustration when you’ve got family members who don’t want to eat the same thing.

4 Tips for Meal Planning for Picky Eaters:


  • Focus on the common denominator. Does everyone love pasta, tacos, or baked potatoes but not exactly the same kind?  Set up a pasta, taco, or baked potato bar!  Make several sauces or toppings on the side and let each person customize their own plate.

  • Make the “disputed” ingredient on the side. Since I eat mostly vegetarian, many times I will heat up cooked, diced chicken breast in a separate small skillet for my husband.  I will make our main dish vegetarian (Stir Fried Cashew & Broccoli, Cheese Ravioli with Artichoke Hearts, Veggie & Grain Bowls, etc.) and Nick can add in chicken.

  • If you’ve got kids who only eat 3 or 4 things, meal plan those out on your calendar alongside the adult meals.  See if you can at least correlate some side dishes.  For example, if your kids love hot dogs and mac & cheese, make the adult meal something that will pair well with the mac & cheese. Or make the grown-up version of their meal. In this instance, maybe some gourmet sausages sautéed with green peppers and onions.

  • Use freezer meals for the “odd man out.”  Sometimes there’s a meal that everyone – except one holdout – loves.  In this case, have the odd person out choose a freezer meal that they like and heat it up for them.


By using the above tips, meal planning for picky eaters doesn’t have a to be so stressful! What do you do to make mealtime with picky eaters easier for your family?


Mindful Meal Planning Book Cover 2

Get more meal planning tips and family friendly recipes with my new e-book,

Mindful Meal Planning: Eat Healthy While Saving Time, Money, & Stress! 



  1. Andrea says:

    Great tips. We have 7 in the family so someone is never happy but we do the common denominator tip a lot and it works. I also love the freezer meal idea.

  2. I have a little one in my day-home that is a picky eater and he has been an absolute nightmare to try and feed.
    He has sensory issues too so I have to chat with the OT before we move forward but I am pinning this to refer back to!

  3. Great tips! I especially love the first one about doing a taco or potato bar. We do tacos this way often in our family and it works really well because we all like different things

  4. reesa says:

    These are great suggestions. I have a picky eater and it can make meal times hard!

  5. Dawn Nieves says:

    These are great tips! I was just talking about how I need to get back into meal planning. I’m spending way too much money on take out!

  6. My kids are suck picky eaters! Especially the toddler who does only eat about 4 things. These suggestions will come in handy. I like the idea of making the adult version of the kids meals. Mac an cheese is something we all can eat!