I know that for kids, ketchup is the king of dipping sauces. It comes to our table at most meals. I'm fine with that. In fact, I'm pretty sure that for my three year old, it actually does count as a vegetable serving. Dinner is just a delivery method for the ketchup!
I like to keep trying to expand their tastes, so I do look for other sauces when shopping. Whether salad dressing, peach chutney, or spaghetti sauce changing it up a bit can make the same old meal seem a bit more interesting. It can also make veggies very fun, meat more magical.
Something I have learned is that jelly makes a nice base for sauces. We use the all fruit kind, so there is no guilt about extra sugar, and it is possible to boost fruit consumption just a bit. We like that.
How to start? Spoon a few tablespoons of jelly into a small bowl. Think about your entree, and add a pinch of complimentary spices. Now, thin it out a bit with broth, vinegar, water, juice, you name it. (Vinegar adds a bit of tang, broth just mellows the sweetness, and juice maintains the sweetness.) Microwave for a few seconds to melt the jelly, and stir to combine. Voila! A sauce that has just enough of a familiar taste to entice the kids to try more than one bite, and enough of a change to keep mom feeling creative.
As an example, tonight we had pan seared pork chops. I wanted a sauce with a bit more sophistication than ketchup for myself. Out comes the Apricot fruit spread. Add a splash of red wine vinegar for tang, a splash of water for consistency, a pinch of salt, and a pinch of sage. Result? Sweet and tangy apricot sauce that all three girls enjoyed, and a mama who felt good about dipping as well.
Be creative, have fun. And it's only a few tablespoons, so don't be afraid to call it a loss and dig out the ketchup if it doesn't work out.