- Food and Cooking
Bring Your Family Together at Mealtime
Let Your Kids Choose a Fun Place Setting
Make Family Mealtime Fun for Kids
Eating together as a family is important. No matter how old your kids are, you should be insisting on mealtimes together at least a few times each week. The older your kids get, the more challenging this may be, but it's doable and the benefits are tremendous. One way to encourage family mealtime is to make it fun and personal for each family member.
How Do You Make Mealtime Fun and Personal?
There are many ways you can encourage your family to enjoy meals together and many inexpensive ideas to make mealtimes fun and personalized. You can assign each family member a certain night of the week where they are in charge of meal planning. You can create an ambiance in your dining room or eating space that encourages relaxation and togetherness. You can make mealtimes personal by letting each family member choose their own special place setting.
Assigning Meal Planning
Even a toddler can take a turn planning a meal once a week, or more! By the time your child is two you have a good sense of what he will eat and what his favorite foods are. For the very young you can have pictures of various foods from each food group and let him put the pictures together to make a meal. Explain the food groups and what a balanced meal means, using terms easy enough for her to understand. You can make it as involved as you want to, depending on the child. For instance, some kids may enjoy every aspect of meal planning, including the shopping for ingredients and preparing the meal. Other kids may only be ready to put the pictures together and eat the meal.
For older kids, the experience can include the elements of being responsible for creating the grocery list, shopping for ingredients, helping with the cooking and serving, etc. Older kids might even enjoy the extra challenge of coming up with meals from different cultures, choosing a new one each week or each month.
Create a Special Ambiance
Encouraging your kids to come together for family meals might be easier if you create an ambiance that is fun and relaxing for all. You can do that by making sure the table is family friendly with enough room for everyone. Who says candles are for special occasions? Use candles, tablecloths, napkins with napkin holders, play soft music. Try having a question of the day, or ask all family members to name something positive about their day. There are literally tons of ways to make family meals enjoyable.
Use Personalized Place Settings
There are many stores where you can find table settings that are unique, special, or fun. You can find plates, silverware, cups, bowls, napkins, place mats, and more that have special characters or fun themes. Allowing your child to choose her own place setting will make setting the table fun and exciting. Plus, mealtime becomes another opportunity to showcase their own personal style.
Making name tags for place settings is another way to personalize mealtime. You can let each child design their own name place card, using their own choice of artistic medium. Then you can laminate the place cards to use over and over.
There are so many ways to involve your children in healthy eating and family mealtimes! Participating in meal planning, cooking, and setting the table are all ways you can instill a life long pattern of choosing healthy foods and enjoying every aspect of making a meal that tastes great and is fun to eat.