Family Meals Can be STRESSFUL!!!
I can’t guarantee that you’re kids will eat what you serve them, but I hope a few of these tips will help you have a little more fun in the kitchen and ease some of the tension.
1. Include your KIDS.
Getting the whole family involved reduces your stress and will pass valuable food skills on to your kids. The ability and skills needed to participate in food prep will of course be age and stage dependent. Even younger kids are able to do small tasks like measuring ingredients, pouring or dumping chopped veggies in the bowl. Meal prep and planning does not have to be invisible labour. Including your family in the process helps them to understand how much is involved with getting a healthy family meal on the table. Kids may also be more likely to eat what they’ve had a hand in preparing.
TIP: The earlier in the day you start including your kids the better! Ask your kids to help chop or measure ingredients BEFORE the 6pm dinner rush!!
2. Make Fun Food!
Eating a wide variety of colourful foods is the backbone to a healthy diet. However, it can be VERY challenging to get your kids to eat vegetables (usually fruit is an easier sell because it’s sweet!). Try using dips such as hummus, ranch, queso dip or guacamole. You could even get them to help you make a homemade yogurt ranch dip! Channel your inner artist and create fun faces, animals or shapes using chopped vegetables, fruit, dried fruit, nuts or seeds. If accessible, seasonal cookie cutters or small shape cutters are fun to include. Food processors can be seen as fun “machines” to help grate carrots or zucchini into various meals or baked goods.
3. Be Flexible.
There is nothing more heart-wrenching than seeing your family’s disapproval at your latest kitchen creation. Cooking for your family is a labour of love! Learning to adjust your expectations to accept that some meals will be great and others might not be is a work in progress. In the words of Frozen, you just have to “Let It GO”. TIP: A good rule of thumb is to expect that your child will sit at the table for 1-2 minutes per year of age. For example, if you have a 3 year old, expect that they can sit with you for at least 3-6 minutes; anything more than this is a win!