We tried a million ways to get our daughter, Soleil, to try new foods, eat what was in front of her, and stop saying she didn’t like something before ever having tried it. And then we came upon this way of planning, preparing and eating meals that not only eliminates those problems, but actually gets her excited about dinner.
There are a lot of steps to getting a meal on the table, from deciding what to eat, making shopping lists, going to the supermarket, making the meal, setting the table, eating it and cleaning up. Here are some tips to get everyone involved and excited about meals:
Decide what to eat
When you wake up on Saturday morning, get the kids involved with what you’re going to have for dinner. Ask them what they want, making sure to include all of the food groups.
Make the shopping list
Have the kids make the list. If they’ve started to write, have them write the list on paper. They’ll get to practice their penmanship and spelling. If they want to do it on the phone, that’s cool, too.
Go to the supermarket
Have the kids hold the list and show the parents where to go and what to get. They’ll be less bored, it’ll feel more like a scavenger hunt than a task and it’ll be more fun for everyone.
Make the meal
Have everyone involved in every step, as much as possible. Obviously, there are activities that little kids shouldn’t undertake, but let them try stuff out and get comfortable with being in the kitchen.
Set the table
Use the cloth napkins that you’re saving and never use. Get a little dressed up. Use the fancy plates or think of how to serve the food in a nice way. Make the meal feel more important than just shoving food in your mouths.
Eat the meal
We serve the meal in courses, like at a restaurant. First an appetizer, then vegetable, main course and dessert. If kids have four things on their plate, they’re going to choose what they like best to eat first and the broccoli gets left behind. If you front load the broccoli at the beginning and it’s the only thing in front of them, they’re more likely to eat it.
This is not a method to get healthy meals on the table quickly. In fact, it’s the opposite. It’s a way to elevate the importance of the meal and get everyone to feel ownership in it. When you give kids ownership over what they're going to eat, they'll eat anything. Adults, too.