by Kate Myerson, RD
Meal times should be fun and enjoyable, but pressure can start to build when you try to get a healthy meal on the table. With so much food being marketed to kids, it’s no wonder they may prefer packaged food to a healthy meal. Don’t make meal times a fight—no one wins. Try these tips to add some fun to your meals, so you and your family can try new foods and enjoy meal time together.
1. Use cookie cutters for fun shaped sandwiches, and for fruits, like apple, melon or pineapple, and veggies, like cucumbers to snack on, or carrots to add to soup.
2. Use silly straws to encourage drinking plain old water.
3. Use colorful cupcake liners to pack fruits, veggies, and snacks in the
4. Keep a Tupperware of chopped veggies, along with your favorite dip, for an after-school snack, while preparing dinner.
5. Cooking together can be fun. Try mixing up some trail mix, a quick bread, or homemade pizza with a funny face.
6. The best time to try new foods is at a snack time and not when kids are most hungry at meals. Try tasting foods different ways. For example, compare raw carrots, roasted carrots, and boiled carrots. Make a game of trying new foods and pretend you’re a judge on a cooking show.
7. Try a DIY salad bar. Take it a step further and do a DIY breakfast bar: add toppings to a muffin tin and make an oatmeal hot bar with dried fruit, nuts, and brown sugar as toppings. Or try a DIY taco bar, with beans and salsa and cheese or a DIY baked potato bar with creative toppings.
8. At the dinner table play Rose, Thorn, and Bud, by sharing one good thing about your day (the rose) one bad thing (the thorn) and one thing you’re looking forward to (the bud).
9. Keep meal time low pressure, institute a “No thank you bite,” or say, “I haven’t learned to like it,” instead of, “I hate it.”
10. Try using chop sticks. It’s fun and may help everyone slow down and savor their food more.
Learning to like new foods is a process and it takes time, just like learning any other skill. Remember to keep meals fun, and be creative when you try new food!