Use these easy recipes for autistic picky eaters.
Cooking for autistic picky eaters is a difficult task for even autistic adults at times! Here are some easy, autistic-approved recipes to get started.
- Sensory-friendly recipes for autistic picky eaters
- Tips for finding autistic-friendly recipes
- More Easy Recipes for Autism, Picky Eaters and Sensory Issues
Sensory-friendly recipes for autistic picky eaters
If your autistic child is a picky eater, you’re not alone. Because of being sensory-sensitive, many autistic people start with a limited diet and slowly expand it.
These recipes are verified favorites by autistic children and adults. Click on the title of each one to go to the recipe.
These wraps will be known to you by their less echolalia-worthy name: Granola Crunch Apple-Peanut Butter Sandwich Wraps. (Check the notes for allergy-friendly options.) They’re loaded with fruit and granola, which make these perfect for snacks or meals when your autistic kid refuses to eat spaghetti because it feels like worms.
This dairy-free, gluten-free soup is hearty and versatile. The food blogger’s own neurodivergent kid requests this chunky soup be blended, which is something I never considered doing with soup before.
Since blending doesn’t require too much extra prep, this recipe would be great for those nights when you’re too tired to fight with your autistic kid at the dinner table because they won’t eat what you’ve made.
Additionally, the potatoes don’t need to be peeled, which makes this recipe wonderful for disabled adults as well.
Instant Pot makes cooking quicker — and they’re easier on people with low-energy who want to eat healthy. Autistic picky eaters often despise bananas because they’re gooey, sticky and squishy.
Banana chips are similar to freeze-dried bananas, but with more flavors and less expensive since you can make them at home. If your autistic child won’t eat bananas, these might become their new favorite snack.
One of my favorite meals is pasta a fagioli, so finding a recipe that doesn’t require me to dice tomatoes (poor motor skills) is comforting. This hearty soup uses 5 ingredients and can be made with canned items.
Picky autistic eaters may find comfort in the sensory input of the soup. I personally love noodles “with holes” for any dish that isn’t spaghetti or chicken Alfredo. When the sensory input is satisfying, I’m motivated to eat more.
Does your autistic child love their beige foods? It’s probably because it’s easier on the eyes, less distracting, and predictable in taste. Mini corn dog muffins are freezer-friendly, which means you can make them ahead of time and reheat them when you or your kid want them.
The ketogenic diet is known to decrease epilepsy symptoms, an occasionally co-occurring diagnosis in autistic people.
This recipe is included because it has “pumpest plums”, and that’s music to my echolalia. More than that: sometimes, chewing is hard. It’s easier to drink a smoothie, a shake, flavored gelatin, or applesauce than it is to chew food.
I’m a picky autistic eater and consider eating a conscious act. Instead of “just eating”, I have to remind myself to chew until the pieces are small enough that I won’t choke, and I will sometimes still choke.
Making macaroni and cheese in a skillet changed my life. Macaroni and cheese is a samefood/safefood for many autistic people and doesn’t require a lot of ingredients or time to make.
If you’re trying to work veggies into your autistic picky eater’s diet, offer something green — like green beans or asparagus. Let them spit it out if they don’t like it — putting it in their mouth for a few seconds is success enough!
Autistic people who struggle with sensory inputs of foods will be traumatized if you make them swallow those foods, which will cause them to avoid them in the future. One bad experience with a food is enough to turn us off for good.
No list of recipes for picky autistic eaters is complete without a pizza recipe. Despite its association with junk food, pizza is a great meal because it contains several food groups (dairy, grains, meat, veggies/fruit).
Tomato sauce kind of counts as both a vegetable and a fruit, since it’s botanically a fruit but sold as a vegetable. Loopholes are your friend when it comes to feeding your picky autistic kids.
Tips for finding autistic-friendly recipes
I often google “quick easy toddler recipes” when I’m meal planning. Toddler recipes are typically freezer-friendly finger foods. Every now and then, I’ll happen across a gourmet toddler recipe — I skip those.
Learning how to cook a few basic, versatile recipes helps me plan semi-nutritional meals on a budget. I like to choose one or two versatile meals that share ingredients, plus one big batch comfort meal that doesn’t. I fill the rest of my grocery budget with premade meals for the days when I can’t cook or need something quick.
Go for recipes that meet your autistic child’s sensory needs. If they’re craving crunch, take advantage by offering crunchy nutritional foods.
When introducing new foods, your maximum goal should be that they put the food in their mouth and spit it out. As an autistic adult, I have the agency to do this. As an autistic child, I did not have this agency and thus do not like a lot of nutritional foods today.
Forcing your autistic child to eat food they don’t like is about more than your child refusing to eat. Non-autistic people feel and intuit. Autistic people think and explore, which means that sensory input has a great influence on how autistic children experience the world.
Not sure what your autistic child might eat? Comment below with what your picky autistic eater will eat, and I’ll match you with some recipes to try.
More Easy Recipes for Autism, Picky Eaters and Sensory Issues
10 Easy Recipes for Autistic Adults (Your child will like these recipes, too.)
8 Easy Dinner Recipes for Autistic Children (and adults)
10 Simple Breakfast Recipes for Autistic Children (and adults)
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Autism Nutrition Library – Want more help with recipes for the autistic person in your life? Check out this library of resources by a Registered Dietician (RD) and autism expert.