Real Food. Real Conversations.

Real Food. Real Conversations.

Component Cooking to Feed All Eaters

October 07, 2020

Component cooking is a great strategy for feeding a table of varying dietary needs and preferences. It is possible to make only one meal!

I am not a restaurant, is a mantra I tell myself daily. With three kids who each have opinions (I mean, how dare they LOL) it's hard to please everyone. And then throw in a variety of diet needs, the stress is high!

Different Diets at One Table

Now days it's quite common to see an eclectic group at your dinner table. Whether it's young kids you have picky palates, or a range of food issues, intolerances and allergies.

We often feel like we need to make multiple meals in order to feed everyone. The thing is you don't.

Making multiple meals

While it sounds easiest to just make many meals so that everyone is taken care of, the long term effects of this aren't good for us mentally.

It takes a lot of our energy to create one meal, let alone more than one. So it burns us out quickly. And the last thing we need is to reach burnout faster!

It also creates a bad habit with catering to each and every thing our family wants. Now allergies and other medical needs are one thing, but when it comes to preferences and tastes, creating the bad habit of always getting what you want isn't good long term.

So how do we handle all the needs our families have? Is there a way we can make it work without going crazy?

Component Cooking

Component meals are my new bestie. This is when you essentially make meal parts that can be put together to make one larger meal.

For example, you can make the following:

RiceBeansOther proteins of choiceSautéed or roasted veggiesSalsaGuacamoleLettuceSauce

Then each person can build their own tacos, burritos, bowls, etc. This works for many different things like pizza, pasta, salads, etc.

How it helps

Not only does component cooking take less time (you only really need to prep a few days a week, then use the ingredients in different ways) but it also results in less complaining and allows different dietary needs to eat the same thing.

Meals and kids

The thing with kids, is that they want some control over things. When it comes to food, it's the one area that they can choose to control by refusing to eat. We can't force a child to eat, much like we can't force them to sleep.

When you let go and put some control back into them, food becomes less of a power struggle.

Component meals are a great way to do that because essentially they can choose which of the components they want in their meal. Parents can still have parameters to make sure their kids are getting well rounded meals

I like to prep a variety of veggies and a mix of grains and proteins. We tell them kids they need one thing from each category to make it a whole some meal, but they can choose which one.

Because they feel like they are the ones choosing, it creates less of an issue. Now there will always be kids that still complain, but the key there is to make sure to have at least one thing your child likes in the bunch.

I also like to encourage the kids to try one new thing each time as well. This doesn't always work, but I don't push it and if you keep offering, one day they may take you up on it!

Meeting all diets