There’s no underestimating the importance of sitting down as a family to eat a meal together. Not only is it a great chance to spend some quality time together, but it’s also a great way of educating your children about food: where it comes from, its effects on health and its flavours.
If your children are fussy eaters, then planning family meals can sometimes be a struggle. However, there are ways in which you can make lunchtimes both fun and educational, paving the way to a better acceptance and understanding of healthy foods in the future.
Even if they are hungry, it can be hard to drag children away from their toys and games to sit at the table and eat a meal. So why not try and make lunchtimes just as much fun as their other activities? Include them in the preparation, or cut food into interesting shapes – even a basic sandwich can be more appealing when it looks like something else. You could even play games that involve guessing the ingredients of a dish, with prizes for those who get the answers right. By making lunchtime into a fun occasion rather than a chore, you’ll find it easier to persuade your kids to sit down as a family and eat – and will hopefully find it easier to get them to try new things too.
At weekends, get your children involved when preparing lunch to give them more of an understanding of food. You could even turn your dining room into a “restaurant”, with children taking food orders for other members of the family and helping to prepare their meals. By involving them from start to finish, they’ll learn more about where their food comes from, and will hopefully be more willing to eat it as a result.
Search for recipes with elements that kids will be able to help to prepare, whether it is chopping, peeling, mixing or assembling the final dish. There are plenty of great lunch ideas online that are suitable for all occasions and times of year: consider letting your kids help you to pick the recipes for the week, giving them even more involvement. It’s all about making mealtimes fun really!
If you are trying to liven up packed lunches for school, try moving away from the humble sandwich and give your kids something a little different. Tortilla wraps make a great substitute to plain sliced bread, and pasta or rice salads will give them a meal that is still nutritious, but a little more interesting. If you want to give your child fruit or vegetables, try sticking small chunks on wooden kebab skewers to make them look more appealing – thereby making them more likely to be eaten. Perhaps most importantly, give them a range of different packed lunches throughout the week. Boredom is a surefire way to make sure that they don’t eat all of their lunch, and may even turn them off certain foods.
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