A lot of us have a problem at home. It’s a problem that can raise it’s ugly head multiple times a day, and one that can make mealtimes a troublesome and frustrating experience. This problem is also slightly different for each of us. For some, it is only a minor inconvenience, but to others, it can leave them banging their head against the wall on a weekly, if not daily basis. We are of course, referring to fussy eaters. Whether it is your partner or your kids, there is often someone in the house who isn’t on board with certain meals or ingredients, which throws a metaphorical ‘spanner in the works’ when mealtimes come around.
You would be forgiven for thinking that this would be especially frustrating for meal preppers, where one of the boons associated with pre-prepping food is the ability to get a lot of meals prepared quickly and easily. When you have a child who doesn’t like broccoli, a partner who can’t stand onions, and a personal dislike of brussels sprouts, how can you possibly create an efficient meal-prep plan? Well, as it turns out, meal prepping can actually be the perfect way to deal with families that don’t share the same tastebuds!
Prep meal sections
Even if your family members require vastly different diets, meal prepping is not an impossibility. Quite the opposite in fact. If you find that cooking multiple different meals at once is too difficult, there is no reason why you can’t prep the most time-consuming parts of the meals together in one go, and leave the cooking of the individual ingredients (that each person prefers) for the day you are planning on eating it. While this will mean some degree of cooking on the day, it will vastly reduce the workload when compared to preparing everything from scratch. This is particularly useful if, for example, everyone in your household likes the protein source of a certain meal (chicken, beef, pork etc.), but disagree on how the salad, potatoes, or another side dish should be prepared. Simply prep the meat early, store in a meal prep container, and take it out of the freezer on the day of consumption, leaving you to deal with one or two dishes, rather than half a dozen.
Don’t like the taste? Change the texture
It is worth noting that often, it may not be the taste of a certain food that we hate, but perhaps the texture. Children in particular tend to veer away from foods that don’t feel good on the tongue or take more effort to eat. If you suspect this could be the case for one or more family members, try to introduce that particular food in a slightly different way. Let’s take cauliflower as an example. Maybe your partner or your children were introduced to cauliflower as a tasteless vegetable that had been boiled to the point it had turned into a soggy mess. They may not actually hate cauliflower, but may hate the texture of the soft, soggy version of it. Try roasting it instead, seasoned with a light spice or two. Or perhaps mashing cauliflower with a small amount of butter, instead of the usual potato mash that your family love so much. Other options would be cauliflower waffles, or cauliflower and macaroni cheese.
If you can change the attitude of a family member to food that everyone else in the gang enjoys, meal prepping will be that little bit easier. It won’t always be possible, but you may be surprised at just how much a change in presentation or texture can also change someone’s view on certain ingredients.
One extremely effective way to combat the issues associated with those fussy palates, is to prepare buffet, or ‘tapas-style’ meals, where everyone can pick the ingredients they want, and leave out the ones they don’t. This sort of cooking is particularly great for meal-preppers, as those with the multi-compartment containers already have sections divided up to avoid flavours mixing when a meal is stored, whereas rice dishes or other meal sections that the whole family agree on, can be kept in the round single compartment variants.
Preparing meals for fussy eaters this way doesn’t add any extra prep time, as buffets and tapas-style meals include quite a few components anyway, with some of them being simple, fresh ingredients with very little cooking or prepping involved. With plenty of variety in the smaller dishes on offer, meal prepping in this manner is sure to provide something for everyone.
New to meal prep? Prep for one!
Lastly, if you are someone who is only just starting out in the world of meal prepping, or even those of you who haven’t started yet but are still tossing the idea around in your head, don’t let the fact that you live with a fussy eater put you off. In fact, depending on how you approach the situation, meal prepping can be the answer to dealing with that person in a much less time-consuming manner. If you are finding that your mealtimes are particularly difficult to prepare, due to the fact you are cooking a different meal for one person, simply meal-prep the dishes for the fussy eater at an earlier date, and reheat while you cook for the rest of the family. A particularly good strategy for those who are short on time, or don’t have big enough kitchens to be cooking multiple meals at once.
Whilst it can be frustrating to deal with, we should also remember that everyone has their own particular taste when it comes to food. Some of us are fussier than others, but all of us have preferences somewhere when it comes to mealtimes. If you happen to be struggling to find dishes that please everyone, or simply feel under massive pressure to cook multiple meals at the same time, meal prepping can help reduce the time and stress associated with cooking for vastly different palates. From prepping for the ‘fussy one’ a week early, or compartmentalizing your meals for the week ahead and prepping certain parts that everyone agrees on, meal prepping is most certainly something that will aid you in your struggles to make sure everyone is well-fed and happy at the dinner table.