Between work and taking care of the kids, mustering the energy to try a new recipe (or even a new vegetable!) can feel daunting. Many people feel intimidated by foods that are new or different, or think that only expert chefs can chop a star fruit or poach an egg.
However, if you approach new foods with a sense of adventure, exploring recipes can be fun! Here are a few tips for getting new recipes on the table.
Recipe with one new ingredient: Instead of attempting a complicated recipe with lots of new ingredients, try cooking a simple dish that incorporates one or two new things. Perhaps you can make pasta with a new sauce, or try adding tofu to your sauteed vegetables. If there’s an ingredient you’ve always been curious about, search for online recipes that use it, and choose a simple one.
Balance with favorites: Serve a favorite main meal, but also cook a “zanier” side dish. The kids will eat the tried-and-true food, while being exposed to something new (and if everyone puts a little on their plate, the kids will be more likely to sample the new food). New salads and veggie side dishes are perfect for this.
Supermarket: On your next shopping trip, have your kids select an ingredient that they think looks interesting. You can research recipes when you get home, and then cook up an interesting new meal. The kids will love that their food opinion was valued, and will be more likely to sample the new food.
Kids pick: Alternatively, have a child research a new recipe online, and then take him shopping for the ingredients. This is a good tip to try with kids who are already interested in food and cooking.
International dish: Pick a country and try a new recipe! The web abounds with “easy Mexican recipes,” “easy Greek recipes,” etc. Foods from different cultures usually have new ingredients, so pick whichever sounds most delicious to you!
Blast from the past: Look at your family tree — what ethnicities are represented? Try cooking a recipe from your cultural roots. This might even get kids interested in their heritage!
Build a ritual: Sometimes, creating a ritual can get kids excited about new foods. For example, perhaps Friday is “bread night,” and each week you try a new bread from a different country. This could work with any number of foods, and will encourage kids to explore more at the grocery store.
Color code: Another fun way to incorporate new foods into dinner is to have a meal centered around one color. Maybe you have a “red night,” and serve pasta with tomato sauce, beets, strawberries, and red velvet cupcakes for dessert. This works equally well for green (lots of veggies!), yellow, orange, and even blue/purple (think of eggplants, blueberries, and meats cooked with plums).
Try, try again: Don’t get discouraged. Even if kids don’t like a new food the first time, try serving it again. Sometimes, two times or three times is the charm.
My husband and I love Indian food, but our children were dubious. So, when we wanted to cook an Indian meal, we intentionally chose a recipe that had ingredients we knew they liked. Although some of its spices would be a little unfamiliar, they would enjoy the main ingredients of chicken and spinach. We also provided rice and naan (Indian bread), which they could fill up on if they didn’t love the recipe right away.
To our surprise, they gobbled it up! Here’s the recipe we tried. – Wendy F.