As parents, we want to make sure we’re feeding our kids healthy, well-balanced meals, but despite our best intentions, sometimes it doesn’t happen.
In today’s world, it’s difficult to find the time to grocery shop and prepare nutritious meals, and it’s even more difficult when you have a picky eater (or a few!) at home.
Meal delivery services have become popular in recent years because they offer a simple solution to home-cooked meals, without the need to shop and meal plan. Meal delivery services for babies and kids, specifically, can take it a step further and even help parents navigate the struggle of picky eating.
This article will provide tips for feeding picky eaters and review our picks of the top meal delivery services for picky babies and kids.
Recommended Kids Meal Delivery for Picky Eaters
Kids Meal Brand
Picky Eater Approved
Babies (10 mo.+) & Kids
Babies to kids
Basic Nutritional Requirements for Children
Nutrition is an important factor when it comes to healthy growth and development of children. Over the years, specific needs will change, but no matter what age your child is, it’s important that they are getting a variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, protein, dairy products, and healthy fats.
During the first two years of life, it’s important to choose full fat dairy products because babies need that extra fat to support healthy growth and brain development. After 2 years, it’s recommended that you switch to low-fat dairy products, but continue to offer them regularly as a good source of calcium and vitamin D, which are essential for healthy bones.
How to Handle a Picky Eater
If you’re dealing with a picky eater, know that you’re not alone. In fact, most kids go through a picky eating phase at some point, and most grow out of it. That being said, here are some tips for handling it.
First and foremost, meal times should be low-pressure and fun. If your child is experiencing stress, overwhelm, or another negative emotion during meals, they may develop a negative association with meals or specific foods, further perpetuating the problem.
Do your best to keep meals light and relaxed and don’t pressure them to eat a specific food or a certain amount of food.
On that note, remember that a child’s portion will be smaller than your own, so it may seem like they’ve hardly eaten, but trust that they are following their hunger and fullness cues (something many of us get out of touch with as we age).
If your child is refusing a certain food, don’t count it out just yet. Research shows that children may need to be exposed to new foods upwards of 10 to 15 times before even trying it! Keep offering the food, but don’t pressure them to eat it (1).
This should go without saying, but you should be eating the same foods as your kids. This is especially important if you are offering a new food. Seeing you eat the unfamiliar food first will help it seem less scary.
If you are concerned, it’s never a bad idea to get your pediatrician’s thoughts on your child’s eating. If it seems like they are regularly undereating, try adding calories without adding volume. For example, opt for whole fat dairy or mix avocado, nut butters, or oils into foods.
Are Picky Eaters Nutritionally At Risk?
Picky eaters may also be thin and even underweight, depending on how much food is refused (3).
While this sounds scary, remember that these are instances in which children are refusing multiple food groups for extended periods of time, and if adults were to do the same, they would likely experience nutrient deficiencies as well.
Rest assured, research has found that most picky eating behaviors resolve with little to no intervention (1).
What to Look For in a Kids Meal Delivery Service
If you’re thinking of trying out a kids’ meal delivery service, be sure to consider things like the types of meals, meal preparation (if you’re short of time, you’ll want one that requires very little prep), nutrition, and the ease of consumption for your little one.
Let’s take a closer look at some of these factors.
Look for a meal delivery service that offers a wide variety of meals. Many picky eaters like to eat the same few things over and over again. A meal delivery service with a good variety will help your child try new foods and (hopefully) learn to enjoy them!
Nutrition (and how they sneak it in!)
Vegetables tend to be one of the hardest foods to get picky eaters to enjoy, so it’s a good idea to look for a meal delivery service that places an emphasis on them.
Some may sneak vegetables in by blending them into a sauce or baking them into another food, but don’t shy away from meals that include a side of veggies. It’s important for kids to be regularly exposed to vegetables. If they are always hidden, kids may never willingly eat them.
Ease of Consumption (do they make it fun?)
Keeping mealtime fun is important for all kids, especially when picky eating is a factor.
Some meal delivery services will include different activities or prepare foods in fun shapes. This can be a great way to relieve some of the stress that comes with new meals! You can also involve your kids in preparing the meals by letting them help you heat them up. This helps build interest in the foods and can further promote healthy eating habits.
Top 3 Best Meal Delivery Services For Picky Eaters (And Why We Chose Them)
Below are our picks of the best meal delivery services for picky eaters.
1. Nurture Life (Our Best Overall Pick!)
Nurture Life is a meal delivery service that offers meals for children, ages 10 months to 12 years old. As a bonus, the meals are designed by a registered dietitian.
The meals are portioned appropriately for your child’s age, and consist of fresh, whole foods, including veggies. They can also be prepared in 3 minutes or less, making it a quick and easy option for busy families.
When picking your meals, you can filter and choose from a variety of dietary restrictions, such as gluten-free, vegetarian, soy-free, and more. Meals are processed in a dedicated nut-free facility, but cross-contamination from other common allergens is possible.
You can even select meals from the “picky eater” filter.
Nurture Life does a great job of including vegetables in every meal, even the ones designed for picky eaters. Some meals do include hidden veggies, such as blended into a sauce, for example, but all meals still contain a serving of vegetables. This is important because if we want our kids to eat vegetables voluntarily, we can’t always hide them!
Nutrition information for every meal and snack is available on the website. The company places an emphasis on watching sodium and sugar content in their meals and every meal includes veggies. In fact, according to the website, 86% of their meals contain 0 grams of added sugar.
The U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommend a maximum of 741 mg of sodium per day for kids. Nurture Life meals contain an average of 335mg, which is a little high in my opinion, but higher sodium is very common in prepared meals. This doesn’t mean it’s unhealthy, just try to balance it out with lower sodium meals throughout the rest of the day.
The price for meals ranges from $6.99 to $7.99 and shipping is free if you order enough meals.
Yumble offers kids meals, for ages 1-3, 4-8, or 9-13. All meals come fully prepared and can be heated in 2 minutes or less.
Meal boxes come with sticker sheets and table topics, which can help make meal time more interactive and fun for your kids. This is an important part of navigating picky eating!
Yumble offers a Picky Eaters box as well as options for gluten-free, milk-free, soy-free, egg-free, vegetarian, and no sugar added meals. However, the meals are processed in a facility that also processes common allergens, so this won’t be a suitable option for kids with serious allergies.
Some meals include hidden veggies and some include obvious vegetables, such as “trees” or broccoli. According to the website, meals are designed to offer a balance of protein, fiber, and veggies, while limiting excess sodium, sugar, and saturated fat.
Unlike Nurture Life, Yumble offers breakfast options for kids, which may come in handy if you tend to have busy, rushed mornings and want to make sure your little one starts the day with a nutritious meal.
There is a wide variety of meals available from Yumble, and some do contain higher amounts of sodium, which is common with many prepared meals. However, you can view the nutrition information for all meals on the website and choose lower sodium options if you prefer.
The price of meals ranges from $5.99 to $7.99 and shipping is free.
3. Little Spoon
Little Spoon is a 100% organic meal delivery service that offers meals designed for babies, toddlers, and kids. They also offer smoothies (go to our review of little spoon smoothies) and vitamins for little ones.
All items from Little Spoon are free from preservatives and additives and are prepared fresh.
Unlike the other two on our list, Little Spoon offers baby purées, including simple purées with single ingredients, multi-ingredient blends, and more complex blends, all of which are made from whole food ingredients, with nothing artificial added.
The Little Spoon Plates are designed for toddlers and kids and are made up of nourishing, whole foods. You can choose meals that do not include gluten, dairy, nuts, meat, or eggs, though cross-contamination is possible, so if your child has severe allergies, this may not be a good choice for you.
Plates contain a serving of vegetables, some of which are hidden. This is great for sneaking extra nutrients in, but it’s always a good idea to offer visible veggies too, which Little Spoon does.
As with others, sodium can run a little high for some meals. This shouldn’t be a big deal if you are offering lower sodium meals and snacks throughout the rest of the day.
A newer offering from Little Spoon is their smoothies, which come in ready to eat pouches. Smoothies are made of a variety of ingredients, including fruits and veggies. Smoothies can be another option for sneaking extra nutrients into your little one’s diet, especially because the taste of veggies is usually masked by the fruit. Just be sure to keep offering vegetables they can see and taste too!
Pricing ranges from $2.74 for a baby purée to $4.99 per meal for older kids and shipping is extra.
Benefits of Using a Meal Delivery Service For Your Picky Eater
Feeding a picky eater can be tough, especially if they refuse to eat the meals you’re preparing for the rest of the family.
Most of us don’t want to prepare a second dish just for one person, so a meal delivery service may be the solution.
Kids meal delivery services can also ensure your child is getting a nutritious meal that is fun for them to eat, something that can be difficult to achieve when you’re a busy parent trying to prepare meals for your family!
Are There Any Potential Downsides?
As with most things, there are always downsides.
For one, if you’re wanting your picky eater to stop being so picky, it may be counterproductive to always offer them a separate meal from the rest of the family.
Kids need repeated exposure to foods and it helps for them to see their parents eating the same things, so a meal delivery service may get in the way of that.
That being said, there is nothing wrong with using a meal delivery service for some meals or for short periods of time to make your life easier! Plus, many of these services include veggies and make them fun for kids, so they’ll still be helpful in terms of exposing your child to vegetables and other foods.
Lastly, cost is a potential downside. As with all meal delivery services, it’s going to be more expensive than grocery shopping and preparing your own food. However, it may be more than worth the cost for you.
Feeding a picky eater is one of the joys (challenges) of parenting. While it can be concerning and frustrating, rest assured that it’s just a phase for most kids and they will likely grow out of it.
In the meantime, a kids meal delivery service may help you provide nutritious, well-balanced meals that your picky eater will actually eat.
The team at FHM recommends Nurture Life as the best overall meal delivery for picky eaters as the meal selection and taste are 10/10 and approved by our picky littles!
Tips and Tricks From an RD and Mom
If you’re worried about your picky eater, you’re not alone and it’s obvious you just love and care about your little one!
Remember, for most kids, this is just a phase that they’ll grow out of. So, do your best to stay patient, continue offering a wide variety of foods, and keep meals fun and low-stress.
Additionally, the best way to get your kid to eat veggies is to give them veggies. Of course hiding them will make a meal more nutritious (and gets them to actually eat them), but if you want your kids to choose to eat vegetables, they need to see the vegetables regularly and at multiple meal times (not just dinner!).
At the end of the day, your job is to offer the food, their job is to eat it! It’s as simple as that.