A Basic Guide to Taste Tests

Key Information for Program Staff

Taste tests encourage children to try new healthy foods in a non-threatening manner. You can test just one item or recipe at a time, or compare new and familiar foods. Don't be afraid to reintroduce foods as children's taste and acceptance of new foods often change! Finally, when selecting foods, consider any food allergies that may be present.

Instructions and Things to Keep in Mind:

  1. Determine how many children will taste the food and purchase the appropriate amount of food to be tasted.
  2. Prepare food samples in advance, if possible, and have all materials (plates, small cups, napkins, etc.) readily available, along with clean-up items such as paper towels, wet wipes and trash bins.
  3. Maintain proper sanitation procedures: clean work and surface areas, wash and dry all produce, and wash all hands.
  4. Copy the taste test rating sheet (one per child), and consider writing in the foods to be tasted before copying the sheet. Each page has space to try two food items, so copy additional pages if you are trying more foods.
    • If you do not have access to a copier, try a creative rating method, such as placing popsicle sticks into coffee cans or other containers labeled with the rating options. (Like A Lot! Like Somewhat. Do Not Like Very Much.)
  5. Ask children to wait until everyone has received his or her samples before eating, then have the children try the food and praise them for doing so.
  6. Do not force a child to try a food; however, explain to the children that although they may not think they are going to like the new food, that tasting is a good way to find out. Praise children for trying something new!
  7. Instruct children to express their opinions on their rating sheets without verbalizing how they feel about the new food. Summarize the group's evaluation (Did they like the food a lot? Somewhat? Or Not very much?) and decide whether or not they would eat/drink/make that food/beverage/recipe again. Provide opportunities for the children to offer feedback and comments on the taste, texture and smell of the food.
    • Be creative! Try blindfolded taste tests or incorporate taste tests into a team or group activity!
    • Be sure to serve those items that they like again!