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Picky Eater Special: Individual Pot Pies

individual chicken pot pies


The picky thing, it gets worse.

I suspect Harry’s getting bored with his extremely limited list of acceptable foods, because lately he’s balking at some of the most basic gimmes I’ve got. Trader Joe’s yogurt and frozen meatballs: gone. Three out of four acceptable flavors of Wallaby yogurt: nixed. Plain pasta and rice: nu-uh. Cheese sticks: get outta here. Cream cheese sandwiches: yuk. You get the idea.

Currently only five meals make him flat-out happy: hot dogs, pizza with black olives, breakfast for dinner, plain roast chicken, and chicken noodle soup (hold the vegs).

Maybe this is us hitting bottom. If it’s not—if Harry’s list can still get shorter—I may run out of the kitchen screaming, never to return. In the meanwhile, though, I continue to just cook. I try to make sure something on the table will please him, but as his list dwindles that becomes ever more challenging. The last two nights, Harry went to bed hungry. Stephen and I made no comment.

Among my few recent successes were these mini-pot pies. By using ramekins instead of one big casserole dish, I was able to fill each of our pies with exactly the options we liked. Mine’s at top left, the one with peas, carrots, butternut squash, Yukon gold potatoes, and chicken. Stephen hates peas so he’s got everything-but in his two. And Harry? I’ll let you guess which one is his.

I used my old standard, a dairy-free, relatively diet-friendly chicken pot pie recipe, and just portioned out the ingredients carefully. It took a few minutes more on the prep side, but the delight on Harry’s face—such a rarity at the table these days—was well worth it. Plus the smaller pies bake more quickly (about 25 minutes), so these wound up taking less time overall.

Friends, please pray for me. I’m not sure how many workarounds like this I can find.

This Post Has 10 Comments

  1. stee

    oh geez. He’ll only eat 5 things? That’s gotta be so maddening for you. How did the going to bed hungry thing go? Did it make him more open to eating anything?

    Do picky eaters ever evolve into regular eaters as adults? I have to wonder if someday these kids will be attending weddings and business dinners asking for a hot dog or mac&cheese?

    1. Debbie Koenig

      Amazingly enough, he seems to not mind AT ALL when he goes to bed hungry. I can usually count on a huge breakfast the next day, though–he’s pretty easy when it comes to breakfast.

      My understanding is that most kids who are picky grow up to be relatively normal eaters. My husband claims to have been very similar to Harry, and these days he’s more adventurous than I am!

  2. Elizabeth Pagel-Hogan

    This is a great idea. I love the idea of acknowledging kid’s food preferences but also having a meal idea that can be easily customized as they add (or eliminate) foods from what they’ll eat. I’d love to link to this post from my website. I published a workbook for kids who are picky eaters and this meal idea would fit perfectly in the workbook!!

    1. Debbie Koenig

      Hi Elizabeth! Absolutely, link to the post–no need to ask! Thank you! Off to check out your site…

  3. Elisabeth

    I was an extremely picky eater, the kind that fell asleep at the dinner table, rather than deign to take a bite of anything served that night. I went to sleep hungry all the time, but somehow mac & cheese, plain cheeseburgers, the Ponderosa salad bar, and pastries got me through to adulthood. And it’s taken me awhile, but now I eat healthy, and treat food like medicine.

    I have a 13-month old who is exactly like me. I’m only hoping it extends to the salad bar, because man is it exhausting trying to find something she will eat. And we’re just one month out of the age of food-for-fun. Ah, karma.

    Keep up the good work, glad to find your blog!

    1. Debbie Koenig

      Ugh, good luck, Elisabeth! One bit of (unsolicited) advice: Don’t push! Think about your own experience, how you sat at the table rather than taking a bite. The more I push Harry, the less he eats. Here’s a really good book to help guide you: Child of Mine by Ellyn Satter, RD. It’s FABULOUS, all about how it’s the parent’s job to determine what/when to serve, and the child’s job to decide whether/what to eat. Good luck!

      1. sandra

        That is really true – pushing just makes it a battle. I like to always offer what we, the parents, are eating and ask him to just taste things. Lately he’s not too into this idea (he’s three) but he’ll eat something if we’re obviously enjoying it. I think that poor, impoverished families do not have this problem. When a child won’t eat it means more for everyone else so there is not that luxury for a child to skip food. I thought that was a nice way of looking at it.

  4. sandra

    oh no! Harry isn’t eating any veggies? My son loves raw veggies. He currently especially likes pickle sized cucumbers, red and yellow peppers (they’re very sweet), carrots, English peas (they’re raw – from Trader Joe’s) and sweet snap peas in their pods. Maybe Harry would like these things raw? Worth a try (if you haven’t already)?

    Also, a friend of mine swears by grated apple and carrot salad.

    1. Debbie Koenig

      Yeah, raw/cooked makes no difference to my guy. Sigh. Occasionally he’ll eat a salad with cucumber, carrot & baby spinach, but that’s IT. Literally.

  5. Shelly

    Try hiding veggies in the food they like. My mom does daycare and when she makes pizza she always adds pureed carrots to the sauce. Sometimes she will make “pink pancakes” with pureed beets. Just blend them up and mix them in…no one will know the difference! You just have to be conscious of what color the veggie is because if it changes the color too much they might not like it because it “looks different.” I was definitely a picky eater and if the food looked weird to me I was convinced I didn’t like it even before I tried it.

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