No matter how much time they have to prepare meals or whether they enjoy cooking, most parents and care givers when asked their greatest mealtime gripe will respond with something like this:
“Everyone wants something different.”
“We watched Disney’s Finding Nemo. Now Susie won’t eat fish.”
“Tom won’t eat anything green…”
“They put tomato sauce on everything!”
If food dramas have you in a frenzy and it seems like you’ve tried every trick in the book, give some of these suggestions a go. We can’t promise a solution all your dinnertime woes, but they might help you tackle the problem with renewed energy!
We know little kids have little tummies and tend to have smaller, more frequent meals – which keeps eating time down and energy levels up. So why not apply this tactic to older kids?
If you’re planning a salad to go with the evening meal, prepare it ahead of time and let the kids munch on it as a pre-dinner snack. If you’re making a tuna pasta, give the kids a snack-sized serve of tuna with crackers, tortilla chips or pita bread for scooping.
Tip 2. Forget convention
Picture your favourite cafe or coffee shop. Does it serve an extended, or perhaps even all-day breakfast? Whilst your home kitchen might not be as atmospheric or have such an eclectic menu, there’s no reason you can’t enjoy foods typically eaten for breakfast at any time of day – be it porridge for lunch, or eggs Benedict for dinner!
Tip 3. Don’t oppose the opposite
Shake things up a bit by opting to serve something cold that you would normally eat hot (such as swapping mashed potatoes for a potato salad) or serving something raw that you would normally eat cooked (like broccoli dressed with a vinaigrette rather than steamed).
If you love pasta but get tired of traditional cream or tomato based sauces, try making a lighter, ‘summer’ style pasta tossed with your choice of antipasto, good quality olive oil, a handful of fresh parsley, garlic and lemon zest.
Tip 4. Change the packaging
We’re not suggesting you throw out your dinner plates in favour of banana leaves, but rather consider how the food is generally eaten: for example, satay beef skewers might be served atop steamed rice, but could work just as well served like a traditional Vietnamese spring roll – wrapped in crisp iceberg lettuce leaves along with a few fresh mint and Thai basil leaves.
What do you do to make mealtimes less stressful? Share your tips with us in the comments below!