Dinner time with a family can always be a little bit tricky, especially when you’ve got little ones that are just discovering what they enjoy and don’t like eating. You have the unfortunate task of trying to cook healthy meals your family will eat, while also managing work and family life.
However tough it might be, a family dinner together is always a rewarding experience and a great time to connect and share, away from the many distractions we have around us. So to take out some of the hassles from family meal planning, here are some quick and easy tips to help.
Meal plan for the week ahead
Making sure that you’ve met everyone’s nutritional needs can sometimes be hard to get right when you’re trying to prepare something that tastes good as well. It’s even more challenging when you’re trying to cook while dealing with several other household tasks.
A great way of taking some of the stress out of this is by planning a menu for the week ahead. It can even be a family activity to share, by discussing what dishes everyone would like to have, or choose a meal for each day, making it much more fun and interactive process.
Introduce lots of different foods
If you’re a parent of a fussy eater, then planning family dinners can be even more worrying. Having a healthy and balanced diet is absolutely essential to growing children at all key stages of their lives, and an effective way of overcoming food fears or fussy eating behaviours is by making food a much more enjoyable activity, rather than a chore.
Give your child plenty of time to try out and explore different foods at their own pace, bearing in mind that developing palates are often more sensitive to tastes than adults. Encourage them to take part in food choices, for example, by asking them to pick one novel item from the vegetable counter for the shopping trolley. This will help develop a greater feeling of ownership and independence with their food and make them much more likely to want to try something new.
Enjoy the odd treat
Family dinners don’t always have to mean slaving away in the kitchen every single day of the week. A fun meal out, such as the London Neds Noodle Bar or the odd takeaway can be a lovely treat to look forward to once in a while. It also gives you a well-deserved break from cooking, as well as giving everyone the chance to enjoy something tasty and varied, while experimenting with bold and exciting new flavours or types of food.
To keep things fresh, try introducing a new cuisine each week with your meal or restaurant choice. You can even use these dishes to inspire your menu for other meals throughout the week, and get more inventive in the kitchen by looking up recipes inspired by them after your visit.