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"Sometimes Food Tastes Better Than it Looks"

29 October 2011

We were visiting my parents, and my kids were hungry for lunch.  My mom had mentioned that she had made stew and there were leftovers in the fridge. I figured it would be a quick and easy lunch, but when I pulled this container out of the refrigerator, my daughter made a face.  Weighing her words, she said, "Mom, sometimes food tastes better than it looks." This was her way of telling me that this did not look like an appealing lunch.

Although I knew that my kids had eaten and liked stew in the past, they had never had this particular stew, and I knew that I may need to think about how I presented the stew in order for this to be a successful lunch.

I looked at the dishes in the cupboard, and decided that the stew would look best in a small blue bowl.  I added only a small serving to the bowl to make it less intimidating.

I typically would have served apple slices with this lunch, however,  I usually serve them their main course so that they can start eating while I cut up the fruit.  Because I knew that there was some hesitation regarding the stew, I decided to try a different approach.

 My kids have recently been excited about what they call "goldalicious" apples, so I said, "Oh look! Grandma has goldalicious apples."  They were now excited about at least one thing on their plate. I decided that I needed on more thing, and I thought they might enjoy dipping bread in their stew, so I toasted some sandwich thins and put them on a plate with the apples. I then put them small bowl of stew on the plate to make an, overall, appealing looking meal.  (Notice how much better the color of the stew looks in the blue bowls, it's not just the pictures- for some reason, the stew really did look gray in the clear container.)

This time when my daughter saw the stew, she said, "Oh, I think I had this before."

And then, she ate her lunch.

I decided to capitalize on this learning opportunity by pointing out that my daughter was absolutely right when she said that sometimes food tastes better than it looks.  After the meal, I reminded her about what she said she first saw the stew.  I then said, "It's so good that you were willing to taste it anyways. Otherwise you would have missed out on a good lunch!"

Have you had any experiences with food that tastes better than it looks?  What strategies have you used to get your kids to try food that lacks visual appeal?"

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