DIY (do it yourself) meal and snack ideas to get your little ones exploring new foods

DIY meals and snacks are one of my favorite ways to serve food. I have always loved this idea for myself: salad bars, burrito bars, make your own pizza. I love that idea that everyone is eating the same overall meal, but each person gets to make their own choices.

This concept can be really helpful with more selective/picky eaters as well. We are still providing one option (thinking about the division of responsibility, what we are offering), but each child can select how much and whether they want to eat the foods provided. It provides them with a sense of autonomy, and gives them a change to interact with a food they may not have interacted with previously. Serving meals family style enables them to choose what to put on their plate.

Here are six of my favorite DIY meals and snacks with some ideas of what you can serve with them. Place each ingredient in a separate bowl and let everyone at mealtime make their own. No pressure for anyone to take anything they don’t want to take. Remember, the concept of DIY is do it yourself so make these your own. It can be helpful to serve at least one item from each food group (protein, carbohydrate, fruit/vegetable, and heathy fat) for meals and 2-3 food groups for a snack:

  1. Burrito bar

    What you’ll need: protein (chicken, beef, salmon, tofu, beans), tortillas, onion, corn, black beans, tomato, lettuce, sliced bell peppers, cheese, avocado, sour cream or plain greek yogurt, cilantro

  2. Salad bar

    What you’ll need: protein (chicken, tofu, red meat), lettuce, tomato, beans, sliced bell peppers, mushroom, olives, carrots, celery, cauliflower, broccoli, cucumber, onion, squash, peas, spinach, cheese

  3. Oatmeal

    What you’ll need: cooked oats, sunflower seeds, peanut butter, unsweetened cocoa powder, granola, cinnamon, sliced fresh fruit (like banana, berries, apple and pear), dried fruit or freeze dried fruit

  4. Yogurt parfait

    What you’ll need: yogurt, chopped fruit (like berries, apple, banana), dried fruit, granola, cinnamon

  5. Vegetables/ fruits and dips

    What you’ll need: dip (hummus, black bean dip, lentil dip, guacamole, yogurt dip: use plain full fat yogurt and add cinnamon, cocoa powder or nut butter), carrots, celery, grape tomatoes, crackers, berries, apple and pear slices, banana

  6. Chili

    What you’ll need: chili base (like THIS recipe or your favorite recipe), cheese, sour cream, crushed tortilla chips, scallions, cilantro.

Do you have a favorite DIY meal? Let me know!