Ah meal time with kids! A time that can be either enjoyable or stressful as you try and get them to eat more, or eat their veggies, or at least try the dinner you just spent an hour making for them! We’ve all been there, so here are a few simple tips to make meal time a little more fun – and hopefully encourage them to eat more (or a wider variety) in the process.
- Have a Picnic
How much fun are picnics? Especially when you’re outside in the sunshine! Why not bring the fun home and have a picnic in the lounge room, or outside in the backyard? Kids love the novelty of all sitting together on the floor, and it’s nice to break the routine occasionally. Obviously this will work better with some meals than others, so plan ahead – you could even pack a picnic basket to take on your ‘picnic’.
- Make a Food Rainbow
We’ve been told for years to “eat a rainbow” and this is especially true for kids. A great way to incorporate lots of fresh fruit and veggies into a meal is to serve them up as a rainbow; then everyone gets to eat something from each colour of the rainbow. You can mix fruit and vegetables onto a platter so you cover all the colours. This one is also a good idea for parties as it looks so pretty!
- Use a Fun Plate
Simply changing the plate or bowl kids use can sometimes make a difference to how much they eat, after all it’s a lot more fun eating off something that is fun compared to something plain. There are plenty of different options available, we love these bamboo divided plates as they’re not only cute, but sturdy and can hold a decent amount of food.
- Involve them in Preparation/Cooking
Do you get your kids involved in the preparation of meals? From as young as toddlers, there are age-appropriate tasks you can get them to do to help prepare meals. Younger kids especially like helping and like to be given jobs – and it can often lead them to being more likely to eat the food if they ‘made’ it. Older kids can be given more responsibilities, you could even help them plan a meal and take them shopping for the ingredients.
- Let them Choose
It’s no secret kids like to feel like they have some control, so let them choose what they want! Give them a couple of healthy options and give them the choice. Or allow them to choose which vegetables they would like with their lunch – that way they take ownership and will feel more compelled to eat what they’ve chosen.
- Put it on a Stick
Turn aspects of their meal into kebabs using wooden or reusable sticks. The novelty of eating off a stick is lots of fun! You could try fruit, vegetables, meatballs, chicken, pieces of sausage, a deconstructed sandwich – perhaps even get them to make their own kebab patterns out of their meal.
- Make it Visually Appealing
Kids are visual creatures – ever made something delicious that might not look amazing only to have your child take one look at it and say ‘I don’t like it?’. You don’t need to create Instagram-worthy foodlays but with a little creativity it doesn’t take any longer to make the food on the plate look visually appealing. You could use a fun plate (as above) or how about using some cute cutters to cut sandwiches or fruit into shapes? Guaranteed to be a hit!
- Make a Smoothie Instead
You can pack a lot of ingredients (and goodness) in a smoothie, so why not substitute a main meal for a smoothie from time to time? Or have a smoothie with some extra snacks? You can hide veggies, add protein powder, add other powders (such as super greens powder) and include a couple of serves of fruit in a tasty drink. You could even get the child to help decide what goes into it - and then serve in their own special smoothie cup!
- Pack it into a Bento Box
Another novel way of serving a meal is in a bento box – kids love them! They can pick and choose what to eat, and you can actually fit a lot into them (more than you might think). These are obviously super handy for meals on the go, but you could incorporate it into a backyard picnic or even serve dinner in it for something different. We love these Yumbox lunchboxes as they’re leak-proof and can be cleaned in the dishwasher!
There you have it, a few tips and tricks to make meal time a little more fun with your kids! Do you have anything to add? We’d love to know – share your tips in the comments below.