BTB Tip #11: Surprise Food

Back to basics tip #11: I would consider Kaye a picky eater. Her default foods: mac and cheese and peanut butter sandwich (no jelly). She didn’t get that way until around 20 months. She started having an opinion about food… texture, tastes and visual presentation. To encourage her to try new foods, we require her experiment with something new each day. We present it to her as the surprise food of the day. It can be something she has never tried before or a food cooked differently. She has to take at least three bites of it, because she is 3.

This has slowly exposed her to the foods Nathan and I eat. Cut down on me cooking two different meals, one for us and one for Kaye. And to our surprise, she has liked many of the surprise foods. She discovered zucchini, squash, tacos and so much more. If after trying a type of food and finding it unfavorable, I try to cook it in a different form or mix it with something she does like.

» Tell me… How do you get your children to try new foods?

8 Responses to “BTB Tip #11: Surprise Food”

  • Carrie

    My oldest son is a very picky eater. He had pretty severe food allergies as a baby/toddler and had a very bland diet for a few years. Now he is six and HATES to try new foods. He’s really into art right now so I got him a special notebook and every night we have him try one new food or new way of preparing it, just like you. He then draws it in his book and writes whether he likes it a lot, a little or not at all. We reintroduce the same foods from time to time and there are many that have moved up from “not at all” all the way up to “a lot”. And he loves to show people his artistic rendition of all the foods he’s tried. It gives him more confidence and a way to really be proud of how far he has come. It’s still a struggle sometimes, but it is a world better than a year ago.

    • amy barlow

      i have two toddlers with multiple food allergies and my youngest hates to try new food. (unless it’s junk food) 😉 what did you do for your little guy?!? how old was he when he outgrew his allergies? i was just wondering since i don’t get to talk to many people that are/have been in the same situation as me. i’m glad your son has found a way to try new foods and use his talent all at the same time. 🙂 that is really awesome! 🙂 if you want to contact me directly, you can email me at

  • Jaimie

    Ugh it’s so hard! I need to try more often with Evan! I like the surprise food idea, but I don’t think he’d get it quite yet.

  • Betsy

    This is what we do with my three year old and it works like magic! Glad to see it works for you too…

    Just discovered your blog and looking forward to checking out more.

  • Laura @ so alaurable

    I don’t have any kids, but I saw a presentation by and received the cookbook of Missy Chase Lapine, the “Sneaky Chef” recently and liked the concept. There are veggies you can purée and hide in foods like mac and cheese and spaghetti sauce that kids will eat without fuss. She has a few recipes on her website…I may try some for me andy husband just to get in some extra veggies without thinking about it.

  • nancy

    I read the following about kids and new foods, and tips on how to get them to eat them: (from
    Offer the food in a happy environment. Children tend to like foods that they associate with fun. (This is why fast food outlets can become so popular.)
    Keep offering the food on several occasions. It can take 8 to 15 tries before the food becomes familiar and a child accepts it.
    Children are more likely to try a food when they see the rest of the family or other children enjoy it.
    Don’t insist that the food is eaten and don’t offer a reward for eating it. Both of these measures have been shown to make children dislike that food.
    Children are more likely to want a food if they are told they can’t have it or if it is used as a reward.


Leave a Reply