As a member of multiple autism parenting groups online, I observed that many parents struggle with finding easy foods that their autistic children will enjoy. As a parent of an autistic child, I understand how challenging it is to have a picky eater that’s also on the spectrum. I decided to create a list of 25+ Easy Foods for Picky Eaters With Autism based on my own experiences and successes with my son. This list includes finger foods and meals that can be easily customized.
But, before we get to the list of 25+ Easy Foods for Picky Eaters With Autism, let’s go over some useful strategies that I also incorporate into meal planning. 🙂 I feel like these strategies are very important and I think these strategies will also help you out big time!
Strategies for Managing Picky Eating in Children with Autism
Below are some important strategies that I have found helpful in meal planning for my own picky eater! I hope that you give these strategies a try and that they’re helpful for you too. Please let me know in the comments if they are!
- Introduce new foods gradually!! I cannot stress how important it is to introduce new foods gradually! It helps make things so much easier and way less overwhelming.
- Offer smaller food portions! I noticed that it’s less overwhelming for my son when I serve him smaller amounts of new foods and he’s more likely to try them. For plating his food, I use two types of divided lunch trays:
- Using the trays listed above, you can present food in a visually appealing way. When food is presented in a visually appealing way, my son is more likely to give it a try.
- Food can be fun! Sometimes when I want my son to try new foods I use cookie cutters to cut the food into fun shapes that catch his eye. He loves that they look unique and it helps them look tastier I guess, lol. This is the cookie cutter set that I use:
- Always offer a variety of textures! Many children with autism often have sensory issues, so some prefer certain textures of food. Try offering a range of textures, such as crunchy, soft, chewy, and smooth. For example, my son doesn’t like straight fries, I guess it’s because they’re boring and lack some character? lol. He prefers wavy, curly, and waffle fries.
- Offer some new foods with strong flavors every now and then. My son is more likely to try new foods if they have strong flavors. Some options to try to include are spicy foods, sweet foods, and tangy fruits like citrus.
- Offer familiar foods as well: When I offer some of my sons’ favorite foods alongside new options, I noticed it increases the likelihood that he’ll give them a try!
- Remember to be patient: It can take time for children with autism to try new foods, so be patient and keep offering new foods regularly. It may take multiple exposures to a new food before your child is willing to try it.
25+ Easy Foods for Picky Eaters With Autism
The foods listed below are based on a plant-based diet. I recommend giving a plant-based diet a try because it can be beneficial for picky eaters with autism. Being on a plant-based diet can provide a variety of colorful and appealing foods that are easy to customize and provide essential nutrients.
It’s important to note that it may be necessary to include supplements or fortified foods in a plant-based diet to ensure that all nutrient needs are met, especially for picky eaters with autism who may have limited food preferences. It’s also important to consult with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian to ensure that a plant-based diet is appropriate for your child.
With that being known, here is the list of 25+ Easy Foods for Picky Eaters With Autism:
- Smoothies: Smoothies are a great way to sneak in a variety of nutrients and you can customize them to your child’s preferences. I suggest you try using frozen fruit, leafy greens, and plant-based milk or yogurt as a base.
- Yogurt: Yogurt is an amazing snack for little picky eaters because it has a creamy texture and mild taste. My son likes to use it as a cookie dip for animal crackers and ABC cookies! I usually put yogurt in the middle of his circle serving trays and place animal crackers around it on the inside to make it kind of like a yogurt animal cracker pool, lol. He LOVES it!
- Classic avocado toast: My son likes his toast cubed instead of in finger strips. All you have to do is slice an avocado and spread it over a slice of toasted bread. Sprinkle with seasonings.
- The tool that I use to cut his toast faster: 🔗FunBites Food Cutter for Kids, Green Squares.
- Tofu scramble breakfast bowls: Tofu is amazing and great for protein! I usually serve tofu scramble over a bed of grains such as quinoa or rice and top it with some diced mangos! It’s sweet and savory. My son loves it!
- For Tofu Recipes, you might want to view my other guide: 🔗The Ultimate Tofu Beginners Guide!
- Pancakes: Pancakes are my go-to breakfast staple on lazy days when I just need a break. They’re a quick and yummy breakfast option that you can add things to such as blueberries, strawberries, and bananas!
- Classic waffles with maple syrup: You can never go wrong with waffles and maple syrup!
- You can also add peanut butter and jelly or yogurt and fruit on top instead!
- Bagel bites: My son loves plain bagels diced up with Violife cream cheese on top!
- Get some 🔗Violife Cream Cheese.
- Classic grits with ketchup: When I was pregnant with my son, I craved grits all the time, it was so weird because I never really liked them until I had him. He likes his served with ketchup!
- Get some 🔗Quaker 5-Minute Grits.
- JELLLOOOOO: I had to add jello to this list because it’s my sons absolute favorite. We get sugar-free jello.
- Cheese popcorn: My son usually eats his popcorn plain but I mix together melted vegan butter, nutritional yeast, and a pinch of salt for my popcorn to create a cheese-flavored coating.
- Dehydrated fruit chips and pretzels: One of my favorite picky eater go to are dehydrated fruit chips and pretzels! I love them for him because the fruit chips provide some nutrients and they’re convenient and portable! He also loves the pretzels because they’re crunchy.
- Fruit and vegetable purees: If your picky eater has a hard time eating whole fruits or vegetables, pureed versions are a great alternative. This is what I turn to on the rare occasions that he’s sick.
- Raisin and trail mix: I usually get him his own bag of trail mix. He likes to look at all of the things in the bag and it helps fulfill some of his sensory needs. This is definitely one of my go to when he needs something else to do and he’s bored of everything else he can do, lol.
- Tofu scramble pasta: For a quick and easy meal for lunch, combine tofu scramble with pasta and a sauce! I usually use plant-based ranch or garlic tomato pasta sauce.
- For Tofu Recipes, you might want to view my other guide: 🔗The Ultimate Tofu Beginners Guide!
- Vegan quinoa bowl: For a grain bowl, my son prefers quinoa with cut cucumbers and plant-based ranch dressing! It’s a light refreshing meal and great for summertime!
- Vegan quiche: Vegan quiche can be made with a variety of vegetables, plant-based milk, and vegan cheese and served with a side of fruit or a salad.
- Hummus, pasta, and veggies: Hummus is protein-rich and it’s great when you’re trying to add some additional protein to meals. We use hummus as a dip for veggies or mix it with pasta!
- Spiral pasta salad: We love mixing cold spiral pasta with tomatoes, olives, cucumbers, hummus, and plant-based ranch to make a pasta salad! It’s super good. 🙂
- Fried tofu with rice and vegetables: For dinner, every week I make some fried tofu with a side of rice and add some vegetables that I cut with cookie cutters.
- Pasta with tomato sauce: Pasta is a staple in our home and it’s a simple and familiar food that my son loves. I love it because it can be paired with a variety of sauces!
- Vegan Alfredo sauce pasta: Make a vegan Alfredo sauce by blending soaked cashews, plant-based milk, and nutritional yeast, and tossing it with pasta.
- Quesadillas: Quesadillas are super quick to make and can be made with vegan cheese and a variety of fillings such as beans, vegetables, and avocado.
- Vegan tacos: Vegan tacos can be made with plant-based protein such as beans or tofu, and topped with vegetables and a variety of condiments. My son likes hard-shell tacos!
- Plant-based nuggets: We usually get cauliflower nuggets and cook them in the air fryer. They’re awesome and they cook really fast!
- Vegan pizza: I usually get premade vegan pizza or get tortillas and add some pizza sauce and plant-based cheese! The tortilla pizzas get super crispy in the air fryer too if you leave them in long enough.
- Vegan mac and cheese: Vegan mac is definitely one of our favorites! We usually get Daiya mac and cheese or make our own with plant-based cheese, nutritional yeast, and pasta.
- Vegan Grilled cheese and tomato soup: During winter times we love making vegan grilled cheese bites with Daiya plant-based cheese and I usually paired it with some tomato soup. My son doesn’t like tomato soup so I cut up some tomatoes for him and he surprisingly eats those!
I hope this list was helpful to you!
I’ll continue to add more foods to the 25+ Easy Foods for Picky Eaters With Autism list whenever my son starts to like new foods! It’s important to keep in mind that every child is different and may have unique food preferences and sensitivities. It may take time and experimentation to find vegan options that your child enjoys.
If you know anyone with a picky eater that could use this guide, please share 25+ Easy Foods for Picky Eaters With Autism with them! It could help make a huge difference for their family.
Thank you for taking the time to read this blog post! I hope you found it informative and helpful. If you have any questions or feedback, please feel free to leave a comment below. I appreciate your input and will do my best to respond to all comments. If you know someone who could benefit from this information, please share this post with them! 🙂