Thai Food for Picky Eaters – A Survival Guide for Parents

Author: Celine Brewer

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A Thailand family holiday will create memories that will last a lifetime. Tropical beaches, lush jungles, rugged mountains and friendly locals all make Thailand a very kid-friendly destination. Adults will surely love the famous Thai foods such as Pad Thai and the delicious Thai curries. But finding Thai food for picky eaters on your family vacation may prove to be a bit more difficult.

We have taken our kids to countries with challenging cuisine before, but we’ve always been able to find a way to feed them properly. Our daughter is not a picky eater, but our during our first family trip to Thailand, our 3-year old son was a very a picky-eater and refused to eat rice (he was slightly better when we returned 5 years later). Given this, we found it really difficult to find food for a picky eater in Thailand, especially healthy food.

A typical meal of ours during our trip to Thailand with kids.

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Our Top 10 Tips for Feeding a Picky Eater in Thailand

Here’s how we found kid-friendly food in Thailand during our recent 30-day family trip to Thailand:

1. Begin at Home with Kid Friendly Thai Food

A few months before our family trip to Thailand, we started cooking Asian food for the kids, with a focus on the popular Thai foods. We cooked at least one non-spicy Thai food a week from our favorite Asian slow cooker book; typically something we thought our kids would enjoy, like Cashew Chicken or Pad Thai.

The kids were excited for our family trip to Thailand and they found it fun to eat the food eaten in Thailand. Given their excitement, they would generally eat the kid-friendly Thai food, but it’s fair to say they didn’t love them.

Still, it was an important first step to introduce them to the exotic Thai flavors they would encounter on their trip.

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2. Food Shopping in Thailand

In the past, when we’ve gone to places with challenging local cuisine, we have always coped by renting a Thailand vacation home rental with a kitchen. We then shop at grocery stores and cook familiar meals for the kids from home in our kitchens.

A child explores a food market in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

We struggled with this strategy in Thailand as there are virtually no western-style grocery stores anywhere! Of the five cities we stayed in, only one had a Thai supermarket within easy walking distance of the tourist areas.

Everywhere else required us to buy food from street vendors, markets or 7-11. This was ok for fruits and vegetables, but not for much else.

Given a lot of parents rely on cooking Western food for their kids on holidays, we wanted you to be aware this strategy may not work as well on your Thailand family trip.

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3. Finding Kid-Friendly Breakfast Food in Thailand

We prefer vacation home rentals to hotels when we travel with our kids, but when it came to breakfast in Thailand, we preferred staying at hotels due to the buffet breakfasts. Given the challenges we had finding western food at stores, it was a real treat to have a family-friendly hotel with a big buffet breakfast.

We let our picky eaters fill their tummies with eggs, muffins, cereal, pancakes, fruit, juice, etc. at the Thai breakfast buffets. Then, if you are a little sneaky like us, you can take care of lunch for the kids by taking some bread, peanut butter and fruit.

When we were staying at a vacation home rental in Thailand, we could generally buy milk, cereal and yogurt from a 7-11 (which are literally everywhere in Thailand).

4. Finding Thai for Lunch for Picky Eaters

We took care of about 1/3 of our kids lunches in Thailand with food ‘borrowed’ from the breakfast buffet. For the rest of our lunches for the kids, .we were able to find kid-friendly food in Thailand on-the-go.

The kids really enjoyed the non-spicy Thai food we found, such as grilled meat skewers from street vendors (chicken, sausage etc.), fresh tropical fruits from markets and a lot of fruit smoothies.

two small kids look at grilled meat on a skewer at a Thai food market.

We were able to make a lot of sandwiches for the kids in Thailand. Convenience stores (such as 7-11) carry whole wheat bread, Nutella and jam (sadly, peanut butter is hard to find in Thailand).

A picky eater enjoying a sandwich at Railay Beach, Thailand.

The kids love Nutella and they rarely get it at home as we don’t love its nutritional value. But as a special treat while traveling, the kids will devour their Nutella sandwiches. We’re willing to make this trade knowing that the whole wheat bread and bananas they are eating with the Nutella are filling, nutritious food with some fiber to keep them full.

5. Dinner in Thailand for Picky Eaters

The kids did pretty good eating kid-friendly Thai food for dinner, but we often found ourselves concerned that the kids hadn’t eaten enough. We would try to find kid-friendly meals to make sure they went to bed with full tummies.

To guarantee ourselves well-fed kids, we ordered pizza for them way more often than we typically would. Pizza Hut is literally everywhere in Thailand and it’s easy to order pizza online through the Grab app (similar to Uber Eats). Order lots as leftover pizza makes a good kids lunch the next day.

Sharing peeled cucumbers with a picky eater in Thailand.

As for what to order for dinner at a Thai restaurant for kids, we had the most success with omelets. Believe it or not, omelets are a very popular Thai food and are found on almost every menu in Thailand. They are not spicy and are served in large portions, making it a filling, nutritious dinner for a picky eater. Omelet’s may well be the best Thai food for picky eaters.

Our home-cooking prior to the trip paid dividends as they ate cashew chicken several times. Cashew chicken is probably the most kid-friendly Thai food you can find. It’s not spicy and kids love the cashews. Lastly, we’d always give them some shrimp from whatever we ordered, like Pad Thai or curries.

a 5-year old eating Thai food while on a family vacation to Thailand.

When we couldn’t find kid-friendly food in Thailand at a restaurant, we’d typically buy ‘sausages’ from 7-11 and cook them at our vacation home rental. Although the Thai call them sausages, they were really just hot dogs – but it guaranteed the kids will eat them.

6. Thai Desserts for Kids

It’s easy to find kid-friendly food in Thailand for dessert. Two very popular Thai desserts are mango sticky rice and banana pancakes.

We first tried mango sticky rice at the awesome food market near our Ao Nang hotel. If you ask our kids, mango sticky rice is one of the best things to eat in Thailand – they went crazy for the stuff! We’ve been back in Canada over a year now, and they still talk about it!

two small kids enjoying ice cream at a Thai market in Chiang Mai.

We first tried banana pancakes when we traveled through SE Asia without kids in 2008. We’ve been dreaming about them ever since and were very excited to share them with our kids in Thailand.

Banana pancakes are a thin crepe-like batter wrapped around bananas, with sweetened condensed milk drizzled on top. There’s a wide variety of alternate toppings, but we think the condensed milk is still the best.

Celine Brewer, of Family Can, shares banana pancakes with her kids in Ao Nang, Thailand.

If you can’t convince your kids to try the mango sticky rice or banana pancakes, don’t worry as ice cream is available everywhere around Thailand.

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7. Remember – Adults Can Still Eat Thai Food

It’s important to note that even though the kids didn’t eat Thai food every meal, we adults were able to eat the best food in Thailand at almost every meal. You can get take-out Thai food virtually everywhere, so when the kids would eat sandwiches, hot dogs or pizza, we would still order ourselves some take-away Thai food.

Dan Brewer enjoys take-out Pad Thai in Kanchanaburi, Thailand.

8. Stay Hydrated

With the powerful sun in Thailand, it’s super important to make sure your kids are drinking enough fluids. We found that when the kids were overheated, they didn’t want to eat or drink much.

It’s really easy to find fruit smoothies in Thailand which are made with lots of real fruit, yogurt, purified ice and (sometimes) a shot of flavored syrup. Smoothies are an easy way to get some nutrition and fluids into the kids at the same time – win-win!

a father and daughter enjoy papaya salad and fruit smoothies for a Thai lunch.

Carrying a hydration bladder in your day bag is an easy way to ensure your family always has plentiful water. Just make sure you fill it with bottled water – you can often find 1-gallon jugs of water at the 7-11.

9. Thailand Food Safety

There is an old adage about what food to eat while traveling to countries like Thailand, “If you can’t cook, boil or peel it, don’t eat it”. To help your child get more familiar vegetables into their diet, bring a vegetable peeler with you on your Thailand family vacation. Seriously… you’ll appreciate having one.

Having a vegetable peeler allows you to buy carrots, cucumbers, etc. for your kids at the local food markets. Without one, your kids won’t be eating many vegetables at all in Thailand.

10. Kid Friendly Thai Recipes

We mentioned our favorite Asian cookbook earlier; it’s one of the most used cookbooks in our house. We frequently make kid-friendly Thai dishes from it such as Pad Thai and Cashew Chicken. As our kids get older, they are more and more adventurous with food. Even our picky-eater is giving many of these dishes a try.

In addition to the Thai food in this book, we cook several Asian food recipes for kids such as Mongolian Beef & Pineapple and Thai Green Curry Beef with Zucchini Noodles.

But, our kids all-time favorite Asian food recipe is also from this cookbook. Hoisin Chicken Tacos are a regular in our house – the kids devour these Asian-themed tacos every time.

If you are looking for kid-friendly Thai food recipes, we highly recommend the Asian Slow Cooker.

a plate of Thai food.

We hope that our parent’s survival guide gives your more confidence to travel to Thailand with a picky eater. It may be a little more work, but you’ll easily find food for even the pickiest kid on your trip. Have a great time in Thailand!

Best foods in Thailand for Kids who are Picky Eaters
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Celine Brewer is a dedicated family travel blogger with a profound passion for helping families create unforgettable adventures together. Her blog blends captivating travel narratives with practical tips for family-friendly destinations and enjoying active travel with kids. As a mother of two, she understands the unique challenges of traveling with children and offers valuable insights to empower parents.

When Celine isn't traveling with her husband and two kids, she's either working on one of her three travel sites (Family Can Travel, Baby Can Travel and Travel Banff Canada) or out enjoying the majestic Canadian Rockies her family calls home.