Originally published: Ellastist.com.au, 03 October 2019
If you feel like your life revolves around cooking and cleaning, you’re not alone. Being a parent is like being at one long cleaning and cooking festival, minus the music and pretty much everything good about a festival. As someone who loves to cook, I wouldn’t mind cooking delicious meals for my family every night, if they actually ate the meals. When your kids are fussy eaters, cooking dinner every night (and subsequently throwing out said dinner) can be the bane of your existence. Luckily, there’s a simple solution: meal kits.
We know that most kids will reject any new food that gets put in front of them. However, according to leading Flavour and Sensory Scientist Dr Heather Smyth, this behaviour is completely normal because all children are born with a natural aversion to unfamiliar foods. Well, this explains a lot, and probably the reason why most parents (yours dearly included) will cook the same meals over and over again if they know it’s a child’s favourite and likely to be eaten. But we could be digging our own graves with this routine. According to Smyth, exposing kids to different foods and diversifying their tastes at a young age is essential, as it sets them up for healthier eating habits for the rest of their life.
If you haven’t cooked more than one dinner a night to satisfy the fussy eaters in your household, consider yourself lucky! New research from HelloFresh, carried out by Pureprofile of 1,000 Australian parents revealed that a whopping 3 in 4 parents (73%) are cooking more than one dinner per night to appease fussy eaters. And some parents are cooking up to 3 dinner variations to feed the whole family. The research also found that 25% of families cook from a repertoire of only 5 to 6 meals – no wonder kids are getting tired of the same old foods! Worse still, this leaves 59% of parents worrying that their children are not getting adequate nutrients for their health and wellbeing.
Father of three and Founder and CEO of HelloFresh Australia, Tom Rutledge, believes that meal kits could be the simple solution for families with fussy eaters. They relieve the pressure of dinnertime by delivering easy-to-follow and fresh, pre-portioned ingredients to your front door. HelloFresh offers 3 plans to choose from: Classic, Veggie or the Family Plan and customers can select either 3, 4 or 5 recipes per week for 2 or 4 people.
The Secret Ingredient
According to Smyth, acceptance of food in children is far more complex than just taste and flavour, and many environmental and behavioural factors can play into a child’s food likes or dislikes. Rutledge backs this statement further with his theory that “dinnertime should be an opportunity to expand your kids’ food horizons, helping them discover new foods they love, rather than feeding them the same meals from a small repertoire”.
By including your children in mealtime preparations and introducing them to a wide variety of different foods and flavours, you can significantly increase their interest in food and trying new things. By making cooking a family routine, Smyth believes that this can “encourage good eating habits by establishing far more positive and creative associations with food and you might find that your kids may even be more willing to try new foods sooner.”
The Polarising Food Index
In a bid to combat fussy eaters and save Aussie families a lot of frustration at dinnertime, HelloFresh’s team of professional cooks have collected and analysed feedback from parents and children to create their very own Polarising Food Index. The Polarising Food Index identifies the most commonly disliked ingredients and ingredient combinations among Aussie kids. Not surprisingly, the top 3 foods that parents struggle to get their children to eat include spicy food (56%), bitter food (36%) and greens (35%). HelloFresh have used this knowledge to create their family meal kit recipes ensuring a well-balanced menu to promote good eating habits as well as good health and nutrition.
HelloFresh meal kits take the guesswork out of choosing what to cook for your kids at dinnertime, and, what’s more, the ingredients are already bought and pre-portioned for you – so simple! So instead of worrying about looking for kid-friendly recipes, planning, shopping for ingredients, cooking and watching your kids reject the meals, you can now relax and enjoy watching your kids experience the fun of cooking and trying new foods and combinations you never thought possible!