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Tips to Make Meal Time Easier for Families

Dinners with children of any age are never easy. From picky eaters, difficult schedules, shopping, and cooking, it can be hard to please everyone simultaneously. Meal time is a process for parents as they learn about their children and what works for their family in order to get the most out of meal time. 

Why is meal time important?

Family mealtime is incredibly important because it promotes healthy relationships within a family and creates a relationship with food. Meal time is a great way to foster the development of children, and encourages a value in a nutritious diet. Meal time can develop a child’s taste for different types of foods and gives families a chance to connect during a busy schedule. In addition, meal times can form many memories and traditions for families that parents can carry forward to their children. Lastly, it is studied that eating together promotes language development, high self esteem, confidence, and more academic achievement. 


Here are some tips to make family meal time more effective and less stressful for you. 


1. Meal planning


Having a rough idea or go-to meal ideas for what you will make for dinner is not only great for your sanity, but this will help you save time and money! Meal planning can also allow for more balanced nutrition and it teaches children that that homemade food is tasty. Meal planning can include having pre-prepared ingredients at home, or using quick and delicious recipes that your family love. It can be a good idea to include children in the choosing of recipes and cooking are lifelong skills that they will carry throughout their life. 


2. Keep mealtime peaceful for everyone


Picky eaters can create a stressful environment for both children and parents. When parents force their children to try a few bites of a vegetable, it can create a hostile environment for children, which will negatively affect their relationship with both their parents and food. Enjoying mealtime with children can create food family memories around the table. Parents can do their best in setting a good example in being explorative in foods, but sometimes forcing children to erase their picky eating habits can cause more problems in the long run. 


3. Involve children in the cooking and mealtime process


When children are involved in cooking, setting the table, and tidying up, they will gain a sense of appreciation for the hard work it takes to complete meal time. In terms of Child Development, children seek opportunities where they can have chores and are included in their household activities. This will take less of a load off of parents, and children can learn the very important skills of responsibility and cooking. 


4. Explore Family-Style meals


Family style meals are when all of the different dishes in a meal are offered in the center of the table. This way, everyone gets to choose what, and how much to put on their plate. This is a great way to allow choice in eating, as when children’s foods are already plated, it results in less complaining. This also allows for less food waste and promotes left overs to be used for other meals!