FAMILY FOOD: Simple ideas for fun family mealtimes

07 April 2016
Reading time1 min

It’s easy to get stuck in a routine. During the busy week, mealtimes can sometimes feel like an energy-sucking task. So, why not change it up a little with these easy tricks?

Why break the routine? It’s fun and it provides opportunities for children to enjoy new experiences around food and to learn to be flexible. It can even help with fussy eating by taking the focus away from just ‘eating the food’, and can make mealtimes so much more rewarding.

Breaking the routine can help us to reconnect and have a little fun as a family.

Do something that works for your family lifestyle and what you all enjoy. The most important thing is to positively engage with your child during mealtimes.

Here are some ideas to break the routine and create fun family mealtimes:

  • Have a picnic in the lounge room or outdoors.

  • Create a theme for the table setting (let your child decorate the table).
  • Plate up, play Masterchef and use scorecards to appraise the meal.
  • Try a new recipe, modify an ingredient or add a little something.
  • Play restaurants (let your child be the guest or the waiter).
  • Eat with chopsticks.
  • Order in or eat out.
  • Choose a meal from a different culture or country.
  • Cook one ingredient three different ways for a tasting.
  • Eat in your pyjamas or fancy dress.
  • Invite the grandparents or neighbours for a mid-week meal.

  • Eat breakfast food for lunch or dinner.
  • Play some music and light some candles. 

  • Celebrate your dog, cat, rabbit or teddy’s birthday with a special birthday meal.
  • Eat a three-course meal and pretend to be fancy (you can split up a normal meal and serve items individually, no need to cook 3 dishes!).
  • Have an early meal and do a special activity afterwards. 

  • Cook together.
  • Make an antipasto or plate with lots of different things to try and taste. 

  • Eat finger foods as you play a family board game or watch a special movie together. 

Your kids might have ideas too! Ask them what they would like to do, or how they think you could make some of your meals more exciting or enjoyable. If you’re busy with cooking or other chores, let your child organise the special table setting or activity, they will love taking charge!

So, it’s worth trying something different at mealtimes. Try new foods, have a picnic, eat with chopsticks, play restaurant, have a candlelit dinner with music, or dress up. Eating should be an opportunity to be social and to enjoy food together.

What do you do to enjoy mealtimes with your kids?

Written by

Justine Simard-Lebrun

Justine Simard-Lebrun is the founder of Kids Love Good Food and the author of the book ‘Try It You’ll Like It – A parent’s guide to raising healthy, adventurous eaters’. As a mother of two and parenting educator with a background in behavioural and nutrition psychology, Justine provides simple, down-to-earth strategies that help parents beat fussy eating and raise children who love good food.

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