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If you have a picky eater at home, they either love or hate pizza. Pizza for kids can be a safe option because it’s easy to chew, super tasty (aka lots of sodium), and often doesn’t have vegetables on it.
Some kids may not like pizza for various reasons. There are too many different ingredients touching each other, they don’t care for the temperature, or they had a bad experience with it in the past – cue childhood memory of burning the roof of your mouth.
I’m sharing five super simple tips to help your picky eater try new foods using pizza (hopefully the vegetables they don’t like yet), or maybe even enjoy pizza if they’re not a fan yet so you can enjoy family pizza night.
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Homemade Pizza with Picky Eaters
Whether you have a pizza lover or hater at home, making pizza for kids homemade is a great way to help your picky eater try new foods.
Let me clarify, you don’t have to make pizza completely from scratch to make homemade pizza. When I say “homemade” I mean assembling it yourself. Buy the crust, sauce, cheese, and a few toppings, and have your kids help put it together. I like to call this working smarter, not harder.
Making homemade pizza for kids is a great way to get your kids in the kitchen engaging with new ingredients. Kids who get into the kitchen learn valuable cooking skills, have healthier eating habits, and eat more veggies – who couldn’t use help with that?
You’d be amazed at all the foods they try throughout the process that they wouldn’t even touch on their plate. Why is this? Because there’s no pressure, cooking invites curiosity, and it’s more like an art project and way more fun than having to sit down quietly and eat a meal.
Let’s check out how you can easily make family pizza nights an opportunity for your picky eater to try new foods you never imagined they’d try in a million years.
Let Them Pick Out the Toppings
As the parent, you get to decide what’s available in your fridge, cupboard, freezer, etc. But that doesn’t mean you can’t give your child some of the say.
Pizza for kids is usually a no-brainer, so If your child does enjoy pizza, use it to your advantage to help them learn to like new foods like vegetables! You can use a food they love to help build trust with new foods. Here are a few examples:
|Preferred Food||New Food||Tip|
|Cheese Pizza||Diced tomatoes||Let them sprinkle the diced tomatoes on top of the pizza sauce before you add the cheese.|
Ask them to cover the tomatoes with a cheese blanket.
Discuss how the pizza sauce is made from tomatoes
|Broccoli||Let your child pull or cut off the broccoli tips and sprinkle them on top of their macaroni and cheese.|
Ask them to plant broccoli seeds in their macaroni and cheese.
Try letting them pick out an ingredient to use as a topping. You can set some boundaries around the choice such as:
“Please pick one vegetable for our pizza toppings tonight.”
“I’m going to the grocery store to grab a few ingredients for our family pizza night. What topping should I get for the family to try?
“Let’s go to the grocery store to pick out a mystery topping for our family pizza night.”
They may not want to pick out a vegetable if they don’t like vegetables yet, but you can present the question as a topping for everyone to choose from, not that they have to eat.
By letting them have ownership over what’s available, they might just think that vegetable is cooler than it was yesterday and try it.
Let Them Help Prep the Toppings
This is where the magic happens. Letting your kids help wash and chop vegetables instantly makes them more fun.
If your kids are hard to convince, get creative. Ask them to give the veggies a bath in the sink or invite them to play a game of tic tac toe with the chopped veggies (or pineapple, if you think pineapple on pizza isn’t a crime).
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Let Them Be Creative
They may not disperse the pepperonis evenly across the pizza like you would and that’s okay. Let go of the control and let your kids make their own creations. Ask them to make a picture, funny face, or pattern on their pizza.
Just so you know, it will get messy. I encourage you to embrace not only the imperfections but also the mess. Don’t forget to get them involved in the clean up too!
Let them Taste Along the Way
It might seem like they’re just eating all the cheese, or if they’re like my son, basically drinking the pizza sauce from the jar before I can get it on the crust. Feel free to set some boundaries so you have enough to at least make the pizzas, but let them try along the way.
If we scold our children for trying foods during the meal prep process, this can carry over to their curiosity for trying new foods come meal time.
Make it fun! Ask them to touch, smell, lick, or stack ingredients. When kids engage with foods, even though they aren’t trying them, they’re learning to like them for one day.
My kids now enjoy so many foods that they didn’t use to like because they engaged with them in the kitchen first.
Try Different Versions of Pizza for Kids
There are so many different ways you can enjoy pizza. It doesn’t have to be the same old boring take-out every family pizza night, although that sure is easy.
If your kids like pizza, try switching up the kind of pizza you offer, and I’m not talking about just the toppings. Change the crust, the ingredients, or how it’s made.
One of the biggest mistakes you can make if you have a picky eater is making them the same thing over and over again. Eventually, they get sick of it and their preferred food lists get smaller and smaller. Help them get used to variety by making small changes in the foods they already enjoy, like pizza.
For more family pizza night inspiration, check out 15 ways to make pizza for kids that you’ll enjoy too!
Prepping Pizza for Kids
Family pizza nights are a great way to get your kids in the kitchen, whether they like, love, or are still learning to enjoy pizza or any of the toppings.
Your family can make homemade-ish pizza for kids an opportunity to get in the kitchen, engage with new foods, and gain valuable skills.
To help your picky eater try new foods on family pizza night let them:
- Pick out the toppings
- Help prep the toppings
- Be creative
- Taste along the way
And don’t forget to change up the kind of pizza you enjoy on family pizza nights too!
If you need more support helping your picky eater try new foods, take my Managing Mealtimes Course for Picky Eaters and help your child learn to try new foods without a fight.