When you have picky eaters at home, coming up with healthy meals can be a tricky and exhausting task. One minute they love something, and the next, they don’t. It’s hard to overcome the battle of what to eat for each meal, no matter if the picky eater is an adult or a child.

So what do you do? Use meal prep ideas that have been tried and tested. Hopefully, the more you practice these tips, the easier it will become to prepare and plan meals the whole family will enjoy. These tips will help you navigate the tricky balance between having peaceful mealtimes and getting picky eaters to eat. It’s always good to try different approaches depending on the family’s needs.

Meal planning keeps things exciting and fun for the family to try new cuisines and expand everyone’s tastebuds. Here are five tips when meal planning for picky eaters:

1. Pick meal themes

For painless mealtimes, theme nights or meal themes are the way to go. Assign themes for every day of the week – Meatless Mondays, Takeout Tuesdays, Waffle Wednesdays, Taco Thursdays, Fajita Fridays and Slow Cooker Saturdays.

Themes meals don’t limit your option. Instead, it gives you direction on what to plan and prepare for every day of the week. It helps you plan your groceries for the week, plan healthy meals, and reserve takeout for specific days. For Takeout Tuesdays, for instance, you can prepare for meal plan delivery services instead of cooking.

For picky eaters, they get to anticipate what to eat and would already have an idea of what they like to have for themed meals. This way, you can also observe what they want and don’t like, making it easier for you to introduce new food items to their palate. Themed meals also create a tradition for your family, and it offers structure and guidance, especially for the young ones.

2. Keep easy ingredients on hand

Once you have your themed meals, it’s also a great idea to keep simple ingredients on hand for each theme. For Takeout Tuesdays, for instance, allow everyone to pick the meal they want to have delivered to the home. If there’s something they don’t fancy on any meal delivery option, then take the decision-making off their hands and order something for yourself and something simple for them. This way, they have something to eat without going hungry.

Takeout Tuesdays can also be taking out a frozen meal of their choice from the fridge and heating it. There are plenty of healthy frozen food options, so stock up healthier options when you want to prevent a battle at dinner time.

3. Plan ingredients or meals ahead of time

You can also prep ingredients and meals ahead of time and keep them frozen. Plan and prepare meals ideal for keeping frozen for a long time. This can be frozen meatballs, soups, dumplings, muffins and oatmeal cups, enchiladas and eggrolls. Anytime your picky eater doesn’t feel like having waffles and chicken for Waffle Wednesday, let them pick out what they want from the freezer and get it ready for a meal.

4. Make meals customizable

Make mealtimes simpler and go buffer-style. You can create a simple protein-based meal but set it up as a buffet on the kitchen counter. Let everyone pick and choose what they want on their plate. This can be done for any food. It’s one of the easiest meal prep eaters because your picky eaters get to choose what they like and don’t enjoy on their plate.

It’s also a great way to teach kids to decide what goes into their bodies. You can do this buffet-style meal prep for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It’s a great way to spend quality time with the family and have everyone eating different combinations of available food items. You also avoid having to make separate meals for your picky eaters.

5. Get picky eaters involved in meal planning

One way to stop picky eaters from being picky is to get them involved in the meal prep process. This can be anything from grocery shopping, ordering meals, selecting and preparing ingredients and even setting up the table for meals. To see what goes into their food, the amount of time taken to prepare the food, and the effort to create something delicious is a genuinely magnificent process.

For kids, letting them pick the spices, see the vegetables, and the cooking process is a thrilling experience. The more they know about the food they eat, the more inclined to eat the food they helped prepare.

It’s a beautiful activity to get the family involved in preparing and eating the food together. This way, you can also point out the kinds of food items your picky eater doesn’t like and see how they feel about it after they’ve made their meal.