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Recipe ideas for picky husband?

I am running out of ideas. My creativity runs short in the kitchen when my options are limited. I am wondering if anyone can share some recipes with me that may help broaden my short list of meals to make for him. He is not a fan of seafood, vegetables (he will eat carrots but only steamed) and he won't touch anything with veggies mixed in, no beans, rice, he generally doesn't like sauce on things. I mean I make pizza, turkey burgers, spaghetti, buffalo chicken, things like that. I am just running out of ideas. He's just so particular about what he likes lol. I just feel bad because it's just a bit repetitive. He likes boxed foods like macaroni and cheese and pasta sides, etc. I hate that stuff. I don't even like buying it. It's terrible for you. I try to make that stuff from scratch. But even if just a few recipes, it would be helpful! Thanks for the help!!

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  1. I would look at copycat recipes. There is a ton on the internet. Use quality ingredients. Simple tastes, but full flavor dishes. There are copycat recipes for Applebee's, Tony Roma's, claim jumper, Panera, macaroni grill, Olive Garden, etc. appeals to the mass taste, you can still cook and use healthier ingredients, win win.

    3 Replies
    1. re: sedimental

      I guess I thought of this but never really went with it!! Now that you mentioned it I will be looking some up!!! Thanks!

      1. re: Sdgirl619

        There is nothing wrong with simple comfort type foods. They are not adventurous, but timing is everything! Lol. They are still tasty dishes. Gradually introduce new flavors.if he likes a copycat recipe of a PF Chang orange chicken dish, serve it with a side of rice with an interesting dipping sauce. with my kids, I offered something familiar, with something unfamiliar, and they decided if they liked it or not and I could build from there.
        Good luck! Cooking for family is only fun if your audience likes it!

      2. re: sedimental

        The recipe for Panera Mac n Cheese on their site is TDF

      3. Every so often, maybe about twice a week, make something you like, and if he doesn't want to eat it, he doesn't have to. Your taste counts too.

        I think you are coddling him too much.

        I believe that really picky eaters are often people who don't enjoy eating, or people who learned they have power over parents by not eating. His pickiness is unreasonable, and a burden for others.

        13 Replies
        1. re: sueatmo

          I think that's a little negative but I appreciate your opinion! I don't just "bow down" to him and make only what he likes. There are often times he eats from a box while I make myself what I like. I just am looking for fresh ideas and takes from people who may experience the same issues. However, in stating I appreciate your opinion, I do not appreciate you assuming I am just dropping everything and catering to his every taste bud need or want. Thank you for your reply.

          1. re: Sdgirl619

            I apologize for my negativity. I feel for you having this issue, and I've gone through a little of it myself early in my marriage.

            I do think that overly picky people burden others with their likes and dislikes, but I appreciate how kind you are to want to cook for your husband. I do not think you are "bowing down" or anything like.

            The only other thing I can think of for you, is to imagine that hubby has a limited diet due to food intolerances, and change recipes to fit his likes. Those of us on limited carb diets, for instance, often change out ingredients within recipes.

            1. re: sueatmo

              It's fine! Like I said negative or not, I appreciate all opinions! I can see how it seems like a burden but it is only us two and I do not work right now so it's not really all that big of a deal to cook a couple things or if he eats burgers, I'll have one but skip the bread and eat it with a huge salad. I just want to broaden my cooking with him, I know he gets bored sometimes and I don't think he could cook to save his life (unless it involved a box or something frozen lol!) I do love him and he does a lot for me so I figure the least I can do is have a nice, hot meal for him after a long day of work! I'm sure he would try to do the same for me.

              1. re: Sdgirl619

                You have mentioned here your own potential solution.

                Parents of picky children are often told to involve the child in choosing and cooking food.

                Introduce the idea of planning, shopping for, and cooking one meal together each weekend.

                Does he live in a cave, or has he heard a few things about health and diet? Not to sound to snide, but he is old enough to be married and hold a job, it's sort of silly to be stubborn about food in this way.

                Also, if you are planning to have children, to you want him to influence their food decisions? This could become a problem. Raising a child to be nutritionally crippled is a terrible thing.

                1. re: sandylc

                  I'm sure he knows deep down his diet isn't the best but I'm also not his mother and I am not here to scold him and tell him how unhealthy his habits are especially with such a stressful job. The last thing he needs is his wife nagging him about his shitty (excuse my language lol!) diet. So I figure if I can do what I can to help, since I am the cook in the house, that I will try to "healthy" up his favorite meals. I agree about nutrition with children but that is down the line. I don't want to stress him about something that isn't going to happen for at least a few years when he has a LOT more to worry about. I really appreciate your comments though! It is silly to be THAT stubborn with food but he is not the first person I have encountered to be this picky. This really just stems from his childhood (not making excuses for him) and I am not going to force things on him that he does not enjoy. Like I said, I can do what I can here at home by making his meals healthier.

                  1. re: Sdgirl619

                    "Healthing up" the meals and making lots of homemade vs. boxed or processed meals is definitely a good thing. And things can't be changed overnight, of course. So baby steps.

                    I do like the idea of having him be involved in shopping with you. Have him pick out one thing to try - even if it's one new thing a month. You can try cooking it different ways to see if there's something that clicks.

                    1. re: LindaWhit

                      Yes, love that idea also. We always do the shopping together but I always make sure I have a list and I know what I am cooking for the week/two weeks. Someone mentioned chicken sausage, which I love, I may have to try that!

                    2. re: Sdgirl619

                      I'd worry less about his encouraging your hypothetical children to emulate his poor diet than about his not being alive long enough to raise them to adulthood! It's a lot harder to treat diabetes, osteoarthritis, and heart disease than to forestall or prevent them entirely by healthy living habits.

                      If he's not willing to change, invest in good life insurance and educational savings accounts once the children come along.

                      When you food shop, make a rule that any impulse purchases must come from the perimeter sections of the supermarket rather than the center aisles where the highly-processed items lurk.

                      1. re: greygarious

                        but in that case the perimeter/center rule needs to extend to anything within 3 meters of the checkout line.

                        1. re: greygarious

                          DAMN! I posted about getting extra life insurance BEFORE I read your post. LOL
                          Just heard about a local man of thirty with a wife and two kids. He died of a heart attack while pushing a grocery cart full of crap food items towards the check-out line.
                          (I think I'll give the frozen chinese food aisle a pass today.)

                      2. re: sandylc

                        I found this funny because my husband is extremely picky he will not eat anything that has to do with onions or rice and no fruits and veggies no seafood exc. However we have a 3 year olx son who will gladly throw candy down for a salad just because a parent is picky it says nothing about the child as long as you introduce the food tothem.. everyones ignorance on people being problems because they dont like sometbing im sure you have things about you people dont like so get over it

                        1. re: sandylc

                          I am doing remedial work of this nature with my husband, who was raised by his picky fast-food-eating parents to be "nutritionally crippled" (this phrase is so apt). I honestly don't know how he grew so tall on a steady diet of McDonald's and Pizza Hut.

                          It does help when he shops with me and expresses interest in trying a new recipe. He has very gradually expanded his diet to include more veggies, more kinds of meat, more kinds of grains, more kinds of pasta - but it took years, no, DECADES. Meanwhile, I cook what I know is tasty AND healthy. I grew up in a meat + 2 veg + salad household, everything cooked fresh, and I simply refuse to settle.

                  2. re: sueatmo

                    I agree.

                    As the family cook I do compromise a bit as there are a few things my husband and boys don't care for so I don't go out of my way to make them often. But their dislikes are nowhere nearly as demanding and restrictive as the OP's husband. If I were the OP, I'd be saying, "darling, I love you very much but here's a cookbook. Learn to cook your own meals if you won't eat mine." He really is taking all the fun out of cooking by being so restrictive.

                  3. Three of the four meals you mentioned have sauce in them, pizza, buffalo chicken and spaghetti.

                    If he eats red sauce, will he eat chicken parm? Or you could do a plain breaded chicken cutlet.

                    These are all simple flavors for picky eaters:
                    Meatloaf
                    Lasagna
                    Hot dogs and beans
                    Turkey breast
                    Roast chicken
                    Roast beef
                    Salisbury steak
                    Pot Roast/Stew
                    Pork chops
                    Pork loin
                    Ribs

                    Soups? Does he eat soup?

                    Does he like salad at all? Even people that don't really like vegetables might eat salad. If you make a Chicken Caesar salad that might convince him.

                    Sandwiches? Meatball sub, chicken salad, egg salad, BLT, turkey club, cold cuts, French Dip.

                    People that say they hate vegetables sometimes eat potatoes, corn, onions, does he?

                    What does he eat on Thanksgiving?

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: Jerseygirl111

                      Nope. No soup or salad. I didn't think to try something with a Caesar salad though. I am going to try that. He's iffy on sandwiches. I do make him homemade bread. I'm sure if I made him one he would eat it. I'm just not too sure how much he would enjoy it lol! Oh thanksgiving. Turkey and potatoes mostly. I made au gratin potatoes so he ate those.

                        1. re: Sdgirl619

                          I grew up eating mostly meat and white food. A little lettuce or raw carrot sometimes. I found out when I left home that my mother was not the great cook that she professed to be, and that vegetables were really delicious when prepared well.

                          Could be part of his issue - suggest that he revisit the situation and participate in solving it with you.

                          1. re: sandylc

                            I suspect this is part of the problem. When I met my husband 15 years ago he ate almost no vegetables or fruit, had an abysmal diet of mostly prepared and unhealthy fast foods. Remarkable change has happened, but it took time. His exposure to healthy foods and properly prepared vegetables was (ahem) very limited growing up so he thought he hated things that he had just never experienced in their best form. I introduced him to things little by little encouraging him to try a few bites of roasted asparagus along with the steak that i know he likes, etc. I wasn't a dictator about it but i made clear i wasn't going to allow him to influence our kids' eating habits negatively (this was years before we had kids, by the way). now some of his favorite veggies are -- steamed broccoli, roasted or mashed cauliflower, roasted butternut squash, garlic sautéed spinach, roasted fresh brussel sprouts with sea salt.

                            keep introducing things a little at a time. make something familiar and then some things that push the envelope. nothing too out there, but well prepared fresh vegetables are probably very different than what he grew up with.

                            15 years later there are only some things that my hubby still won't tolerate and they are easy to work around -- mushrooms are still avoided. i make creative healthy meals with adventurous flavors -- drawing on many different cultures. he's a great eater now.

                            there is hope. just take it slow and keep trying.

                      1. The lack of vegetables is a concern since they are a large part of a healthy diet.
                        Maybe try roasting carrots?

                        There are also cookbooks aimed at moms with small children about adding shredded veggies to marinara sauce and such. This blog has a bunch of ideas:
                        http://www.thesneakychef.com
                        Lentils ok?
                        A coconut milk based lentil soup (add veggies to your portion)
                        Sweet potato peanut stew is hearty and tastes like peanut butter....

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Ttrockwood

                          Well if it tastes like peanut butter it might be a green light. I could always try it and see how it goes. Thanks for the recommendations!!

                        2. I started off with a lot of Olive Garden copycat recipes for my kids, but they turned into really adventurous eaters and cooks! Seriously, they teach me new things now! Both are very adventurous cooks.

                          You just don't want a "turn off" experience with new things. New things should be fun. They are "fun" only if you have other things to eat, that you know will be a "safe bet". No pressure.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: sedimental

                            Lol! That's adorable I love it. Yeah pressuring someone into trying something they are unsure about can be an unpleasant experience for anyone involved. I really don't find it too much trouble with him being picky. It's honestly a little easier as I know what he will and won't eat. I just would like him to at least try to be a little more adventurous. So I can start small and go from there. Thank you!!