Do your kids refuse to eat any other macaroni?
You may have seen or even tried recipes for "healthy" macaroni and cheese. But if your kiddo is a devoted fan of the blue box, chances are that for them, a healthier version of their favorite meal, still feels like a new and unfamiliar food.
Scaffolding is a great tool to help teach your reluctant eater to be a better eater, step by step.
It's a bit like learning to read. If a child has just learned the a,b,c's, you can't hand her a book and expect her to be able to read it. There are steps in between. Starting at your child's current level, you provide scaffolds, step by step, to help your child progress to reading more and more challenging material.
In my post, "Puzzles and Picky Eaters- How to Use Scaffolding to Teach Your Kids to be Better Eaters" I mentioned that you first need to assess your child's independent level (what he will eat on his own.) When it comes to macaroni and cheese, will she only eat it from the blue box? Will he eat some variations (shape, brand) but not anything homemade? Will she eat homemade macaroni but only with white pasta?
Once you've determined the independent level, you teach your child by altering the food by small incremental steps.
In the case of macaroni and cheese, you can follow two different paths- altering the cheese or altering the pasta.
Let's start with altering the cheese:
Continue to alter this a little each time you make it, by adding more or less of the packaged cheese sauce and more or less of the shredded cheese. You can also alter the kinds of cheese that you add.
For a little extra fun, have a "Mac and Cheese Bar." Provide various kinds of cheese as well as other meats or vegetables and let your child choose her own add-ins.
Once your child eats and enjoys macaroni with added real cheese, you can try a simple homemade macaroni and cheese recipe: Two options are Mac and Cheese Using Velveeta and Real Homemade Macaroni and Cheese. Whichever recipe you use, try it first using the same noodles from the blue box. Once your child has accepted the change to homemade sauce, you can then try changing the noodles as well.
"Scaffolding" the Noodles
The noodles in blue box mac and cheese have a much different texture than most macaroni noodles. If your child is hooked on this particular texture and shape, you can teach them to accept other noodles by altering their noodles slightly.
Once your child has adjusted to these slightly thicker and denser, slightly curvier noodles, try other shapes or colors.
"healthy" macaroni and cheese.
If you have a great macaroni and cheese recipe to share, please do so in the comments.
*Please keep in mind that each child is different. You may be able to progress through the steps quickly, or even skip some steps. You may have to stay at one step for weeks or months before your child is ready for another change.
If you decide to scaffold your mac and cheese, please stop by and let me know how it goes, and share any tips that you discovered along the way!
Did this work for you? Next you can try making Healthy Homemade Hamburger Helper or Cheesy Mac!