What do 5-year Old's like to Eat??
asking what 5 year olds eat is as ridiculous as asking what 50 year olds like to eat.
they are actual human beings with varied tastes.
my 5 year old likes salmon, spinach, yellowtail nori rolls, steak, toast with butter and jam. he refuses to eat peanut butter, grilled cheese, hamburgers, or mac and cheese.
how elaborate do you want to be?
would you want to make pasta together?
egg sailboats for breakfast? (deviled eggs with paper sails on toothpicks)
monster toast (decorate with food coloring then toast)
mini pockets - mini pitas stuffed with tuna salad
english muffin pizzas
vegetable lasagna (blend the veggies into the sauce)
tacos (looks like taco bell or del taco)
A few posters have already suggested having her help in the kitchen, which really does help your chances. Kids want to be proud of what they've done, and that opens the mind a bit.
My boyfriend's daughter is an extraordinarily picky eater. We try to steer her toward the kinds of foods we take for granted in our house, but always provide her tried-and-true wants. And you know what? Nine times out of ten, she opts for the chicken fingers. And we let her, because when she comes to see dad, she's on 'vacation'.
We keep her nourished . . . alive, really . . .during her visits by making eggs in the morning (she loves to make her own eggs), served with fruit, and smoothies for lunch. Kids like to cram things into blenders. Dinner is when she gets what she wants (most kids like corn on the cob, so that's usually a solid veggie offering), and we compromise dessert by incorporating a raw fruit element.
And you should find out what kind of jam and bread she likes, so an emergency PB&J hits the mark. Oh, and the first time I made a fried peanut butter and banana sandwich for my step-ish-type daughter, she gave me wide-eyed approval.
Good luck . . . and have fun.
re: corn -- first, I don't think it should be considered a vegetable for purposes of eating a balanced meal (but I know that you said she's super-picky and that's what she'll eat, so it may not matter). Second, I don't know how old she is, but I've noticed corn just goes right through my 3-year old. A friend told me her pediatrician said that corn basically has no nutritional value for little kids because they don't digest it. Which surprised me, but it's consistent with what I've seen with my kid.
It would be fun to have her "help" make anything.
Mac & Cheese
Spaghetti (Tomato based sauce, browned butter, etc.)
Fish sticks & fries (some kids love these)
Hamburger sliders (or your choice of any meat - which she just might like since they are small)
Pigs in a blanket (mini hot dogs wrapped in crossant dough and baked)
Grilled cheese sandwiches
Don't forget the Jello (add some fruit) - Give her a plastic knife and have her help you cut up some peaches and pears for the jello.
And - bake some cookies together!
Rummage through your spices with her and have her test out the aromas. most kids find smelling things very interesting. Maybe this could be a jumping off point to get her to try something different, especially if you grind up and toast the spices and really get the aromas going.
Noodles and rice provide a good way to experiment. After all, she can always wind up eating them plain.
Or.... get a few jarred sauces, like a Thai peanut sauce, and Indian butter/tomato sauce, a chimichurri, and spoon them out onto a plate and put a piece of boneless / skinless chicken on each. Let her decide which one she likes best. Make a game of it.
If you are talking about going out to eat, then of course rice or noodles are avaialble at any Asian restaurant.
Scrapple for breakfast
Head cheese or tongue sandwiches for lunch
Beche-de-mer for dinner.
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Eat what you would normally eat, and have a default item for the children as an additional option. Make no commentary about anything; hosts who are not parents do not get to educate someone else's children - it's part of the parent's job description, not the host's.
If all they ever eat is junk and fast food, I would say cook/eat whatever it is YOU like and would normally eat. They'll either protest, to which you can respond by offering them a piece of toast or a banana to tide them over until the next meal, or they'll be thrilled at the adventure.
Either way, even the most stubborn children won't starve themselves. After quickly realizing that things operate a little differently at Auntie Christy's house, they'll start to explore what you make.
Besides you just might score this kind of victory: "Mom, how come the food is SO MUCH BETTER at Auntie Christy's house than the stuff we have around here?!? Can we have fish tacos with fresh pico de gallo instead of Taco Bell tonight??? PLEEEEEEZE!?!?"
(And I'm a dad of three awesome eaters -- 8, 6 and 3.5 years old)
1. You cannot generalize about all 5 year olds any more than you can about all 25 yos, 50 yos, etc. What your particular 5 yo guest would like depends on her personal quirks and what her family has fed her.
2. You know what her family says she likes. You can stay with that (it's a few days) or you can try for a fun experience that's just a little new to her (some 5 yos are very conservative and some are adventurous - ymmv).
3. You can make sandwiches cut into cute shapes (use cookie cutters or similar); little sticks with cherry tomatoes and cheese cubes on them; fruit on a stick; strawberries with something chocolatey to dip into; celery stick 'boats' with cream cheese filling; pancakes made in shapes; etc. Involve her in the food prep for these kinds of things; a lot of kids like to do that.
I'd have a few of her mom's suggestions on hand - they might not be ideal, but 5 yr olds really love having things the same, and it might help in new surroundings to be able to have nuggets or mac & cheese.
most kids like to dip things, so she might do veggies with a dip. If you are cooking chicken, for example, having ketchup or the dreaded ranch dressing (kidding!) might interest her, even if you would never think of adding these condiments to yours.
breakfast - cereal or toast/bagels with butter, pb, jam, cinnamon sugar, etc. My kids were not big on eggs at that age.
lunch & dinner- plain is good in most cases. My kids also like what they called "multi-lunch" - a plate of a variety of cheese, crackers, peanut butter, pretzels, veggies, dip, grapes, etc. It isn't a traditional meal, but you can make a balance plate pretty easily.
my just-turned-6 has 3 favorite foods: pizza, cucumbers, and couscous. They all have their quirks, don't worry too much, she won't starve. Enjoy your visit!
I second the idea of dips: kids love dipping. While not super healthy, you can do worse than a snack of good country bread dipped in olive oil.
My impression is that you won't have your own kids there too. That can be another resource, because kids will often do what they see other kids doing willingly.
Forgot to respond to OP:
I find it helpful to determine if there are any textures/colors that the child is strongly averse to. For some it's "red" food, for others it's "mushy vegetables." Get that information and you'll avoid any possible stumbling blocks.
Ask the child what her mother, aunt, grandma etc. makes that she likes.
At work I feed dozens of five year olds a week (and their parents). It's so sad to see the kids who pout and cry until they're given the chicken fingers (with catsup) or the buttered, plain spaghetti.
The kids who make my job so rewarding are the ones who eat what their parents are having. These little ones want to have fun, too; sometimes I'll arrange their food in a "face" on the plate, or add something familiar (one youngster eats sushi -- and a hot dog) just for fun.
The five year old who wins the Oscar: the little girl who could pronounce the word "cholesterol" correctly while explaining why she no longer wanted fried chicken wings for dinner.
Enlist her to help you to cook and she'll eat almost anything that she played a role in. Have her peel carrots, apples, etc, or tear lettuce for salad. Let her help you add ingredients and stir batter for muffins or pancakes for breakfast. Make up salad dressing in a jar or cruet with a tight lid, and ask her to shake it. You get the idea.
I would think a 5 year old would eat whatever the people around her are eating, unless there are any dietary restrictions. Of course, some parents only serve their kids buttered pasta or hot dogs. Maybe you can ask her parents for some general direction, and then use the visit as a chance to expose her to new and exciting food dishes - whatever your favorites are I'm sure would be fine.