Feeding a fussy eater with allergies and sensory issues on a budget: Spaghetti Bolognese

I often talk to parents about children and food. There’s so many difficulties: fussy eaters, sensory issues, money difficulties, tying to be healthy, time to cook from scratch etc.

All of the above applies in our household with the added fun of allergies. So J’s list is:

  • Fussy eater
  • Sensory issues (dislike wet and sticky textures)
  • Cows Milk Protein Allergy and Peanut Allergy.
  • Mummy trying to be frugal
  • Won’t eat vegetables (other than baby cor and broccoli).

Dinner time just turns into a drain on my energy and purse. So I thought that I’d write a few blog posts with recipes we cook that J actually eats.

Today we had spaghetti bolognese:


  • Passata (basic)
  • Mince (basic)
  • Mixed herbs (shop brand)
  • Garlic powder (shop brand)
  • Onion powder (shop brand)
  • Mushrooms (basic)
  • Carrot (basic)
  • Spaghetti (basic)We eat a lot of shop brand or ‘basic’ food in our cooking. It’s cheap and once cooked with herbs added you can’t tell it’s the cheaper option as it still tastes nice. I use powdered garlic and onion simply because you can add it without it changing the texture of the food. There’s no sudden bite of a piece of garlic or the texture of onion. This makes it easier for J to deal with the sensory aspect of the food but means it can still taste good.

When it comes to the vegetables I chopped them up or use a cheese grater. This means that you can’t actually see them. Therefore J doesn’t know they’re in there. Same with the passata. The texture and the sight is not obvious. There’s nothing to ‘pick out’. It gives J the health benefits of veggies without the fight.

How to cook:

  1. Add mince, herbs, onion and garlic to pan. Cook till brown.
  2. Add passata and more herbs and garlic and reduce to simmer (if child doesn’t like wet textures cook longer or drain excess juice. I cook ours so it’s dry and ensure spoon and fork so he doesn’t have to touch it).
  3. Boil pan of water and add spaghetti (takes 12 mins to cook spaghetti).
  4. Add vegetables to mince.
  5. Serve small portion into child’s plate ( you can always add more food if they eat the small portion).

To help encourage J even further I use a Star Wars bowl. By having fun bowls and plates it just makes food that little less intimidating. It also gives a good talking point so you focus on something other than ‘please eat’, ‘have a try’ etc.

Tonight he ate all his small portion and didn’t want a second helping. I said that was fine and got him his dessert. Don’t get me wrong it doesn’t mean the meal went smoothly. J still needed support to move from playing to eating and did try to throw the food on the floor despite eating it every week since weaning! But he ate it…that’s a win.

I’ll share more recipes and ideas on encouraging eating but if you have any questions, any tips that you’d like to share or want me to write anything specific let me know on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest or Twitter.

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