Holidays should be about indulgence; eating and drinking sumptuous food and lounging about in the sunshine. However, as parents, trips abroad can get a little trickier and one of the biggest problems can be feeding little ones. When a fifth of all children under five years old are picky about their everyday food, how do you convince them that local cuisine is worth a try?
Getting them used to foreign food before you embark for your holiday is one simple solution – and all you need is a cheap cookbook and some perseverance! Here are our top suggestions…
If you’re one of the estimated 12 million Brits who’ll visit Spain this summer, you’ll be lucky enough to enjoy fresh seafood and mouth-watering tapas dishes. Children too should enjoy the bite-sized novelty of tapas and paellas should go down well, given their tasty rice-base.
Try steadily increasing the number of meals incorporating rice into your child’s diet pre-holiday and get them used to tapas by creating finger food style dinners.
Tapas, 100 Everyday Recipes should give you some good inspiration – and remember, you can always take some of the chilli and spice out of recipes to ease children into Spanish cuisine more gently.
Forget rustling up a quick Bolognese from a jar; when you’re in Italy you’ll be devouring quality, fresh ingredients and strong but simple flavours. Pasta and pizza, two Italian staples, are reasonably child-friendly so you ought to be able to easily tempt fussy eaters to try this kind of food pre-holiday.
Choose the juiciest tomatoes and rustle up homemade pasta sauces, or bring some fun to dinnertime by getting the kids to help you make pizza bases and then let them choose their favourite toppings. Bellissimo!
Gino’s Pasta: Everything you need to cook the Italian way by Gino D’ Acampo is a great book – and Gino himself is a dad so you’ll be sure to find child-friendly recipes.
Mexican food is all about spice; perfect for grownups but a potential pitfall for fussy eaters! That said, the ‘get stuck in’ ethos of burritos, fajitas and tacos is great fun, especially for children.
Cook up a Mexican feast and include lots of optional extras; sour cream, guacamole, salsa, cheese, refried beans and spiced rice. The responsibility of choosing exactly what goes into their dinner makes food fun for children, and you should be able to convince them to try different ‘extras’ a little bit easier.
Mexican Food Made Simple by Tomasina Miers is packed full of fun, flavoursome recipes that are simple to cook and appeal to children as well as adults.
The French are known for their rich, homemade dishes and a few choice, odd ingredients; the majority of French children consider snails a real treat! It might be a challenging goal to get your little one to chow down on garden creatures by the end of the holiday; especially if they’re fussy with everyday food, but kids can definitely enjoy French food.
Baguettes, cheeses and hams are undoubtedly child-friendly, with fondues (popular in the big cheese-producing regions) being great fun. It’s also worth introducing more casserole-style dishes into their diet before you depart, to get them used to this style of cooking – just ensure that you chop up the ingredients into little mouthfuls!
The French Kitchen Cookbook will give you simple recipes for child-friendly French dishes including Beef Bourguignon and chicken cassoulet.
Remember, whether home or away, getting kids involved in cooking their own food makes them much more likely to eat up, so think about investing in a kid-friendly cookbook. We love: Cooks and Kids, which features recipes created by children and top chefs; Sesame Street C is for Cooking, which allows kids to cook with some of their favourite characters and Baking for Kids, which is free-standing and oh so child friendly. You can find all these cookbooks, plus hundreds of other cheap books at TheWorks.co.uk
Image credits via Flickr: Linda Cronin, iandexter, mikecogh, jeffreyw and waferboard