Deconstructing Dinner: A strategy even picky eaters will appreciate!


We’ve all heard of the stereotypical toddler who melts down at the thought of his peas touching his pasta.  Maybe it’s your child.  Or perhaps your kids recoil at mixed dishes.  If you’ve got a child who is selective about what she eats, but you enjoy soups, casseroles and salads you don’t have to give those up or short-order cook for your little ones. Instead consider deconstructing that entree!  Here is an example of how this would work for a hearty salad.

Build-Your-Own Salad Bar — Rather than mixing all the salad ingredients together in a bowl and serving it ready made, serve the components separately.  While my 5 year old considers himself “allergic to leaves,” he’ll happily munch on a cucumber or other salad ingredient.  Your family may also appreciate being allowed to create their own salad concoction.  To make a salad into a full meal use the guide below:


Pick one or two items from each group and serve it family style, by putting all the ingredients on the table and set out kid appropriate serving utensils.

If you’d rather not have 15 serving bowls on the table, you can arrange everything on a platter like these salads below:


Chicken salad with corn, red onions, beans, grape tomatoes and dressed greens…plus a loaf of french bread.







Above is salad in our house (at least for the adults):

This rainbow salad is not too hearty, it wouldn’t be a stand alone meal, but it’s pretty!


Multi-compartment serving dishes also work well.


This deconstructed salad idea works well for a refreshing summer salad but you can spin it into a warm winter meal as well.

Inspired by a "powerbowl" recipe from my friends at Healthy Habits Happy Moms

Inspired by a ginger lime dressing recipe from my friends at Healthy Habits Happy Moms: spinach, quinoa, black beans, roasted sweets, chicken. For the dressing, combine: ¼ cup Greek Yogurt, 1 tbsp Soy Sauce, 1 tsp Ginger and  ¼ cup Lime Juice (or Juice of 1 Lime) — delish!

Other ways to deconstruct dinner:

  • Make your own … pizzas, quesadillas, tacos, wraps, sandwiches or crepes — set out all the fixings or toppings and let each person choose what goes in/on their masterpiece.
  • Soups & Casseroles … set aside a few ingredients from the entree to serve on a platter for those who are tentative about mixed dishes.
  • Scrambled eggs + toppings bar
  • Baked potato bar
  • Oatmeal & toppings (breakfast for dinner anyone?)
  • Pasta bar with sauce and other toppings served separately

Of course, it’s not necessary to deconstruct every entree or even most of them.  It’s good for kids to get used to a traditional lasagna, ready-made sandwiches, and soup–as is.  In those cases, be sure to serve a simple side like bread or fruit, that your kids readily eat so they have something to fill up on if the main entree is too intimidating.  But it’s worth it to occasionally make things easy on kids.  My kids love deconstructed dinners and yours might too!











Posted by Adina
November 4, 2016

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