Family meals are a very valuable time; it’s when the family comes together. We tell each other how our day went, we joke, we talk about series issues and at the same time we eat together. It doesn’t have to be every day or every week. When it happens, it will be special. It means we are family. It is more than food. It is more than eating.
Here are ten ideas and tips to make your next family dinner a success:
Get rid of distractions. Turn off the TV. Don’t allow cell phones or tablets at the table (this includes you too parents!).
Pick foods that are easy to prepare. This way you won’t spend so much time cooking and you will be able to enjoy more time with your family.
Make it fun! Use a cup full of ideas to talk about or questions to pick from while you eat. Or put a questions under each plate and take turns asking and responding to the questions.
Give a task to each member of the family. Preparing the meal, setting the table o washing dishes. When you cook the meal you are more interested in eating it.
Do something different. For example, have breakfast for dinner – pancakes and fruit, oatmeal or cereal with milk and fruit, eggs and beans or an omelet. Try eating outside on a blanket or having a picnic.
Make it special. Put a pretty tablecloth on the table. Play some music. Use special plates and silverware. Light candles.
Choose meals that your kids can pick their own ingredients. Have a salad bar, tacos or sandwiches – let your kids add what they want and make their own food.
Eat at the same table. Put a booster or a large book on a regular chair so kids are higher up at the table.
Be prepared! Get ready what you can the night before or that morning. Cut fruits and vegetables, pre-measure ingredients or reheat up food from last night.
Try new food together! Serve a new food with food you already know. That way when kids try it they also have the option of eating other food they know on their plate.
You are not alone. There are programs like WIC that help families successfully prepare meals and eat healthy. Remember that you create family meals. Connect with your family. Be creative. Look for help when you need it. Keep trying and you will succeed!
Authored by: Angela Sanfelippo, RD, Sixteenth Street WIC