Family Meal Times The Worst Part Of The Day? No Longer With This Helpful Guide
Many parents can dread the evening meal time or any meal time for that matter. But sometimes the last and main meal of the day can cause so much stress and pressure in a house between parents and children that you may just want to scream. I hear you. Many parents go through the exact same battles when it comes to family meal times. That may be for various different reasons, but we have all been there at some point. For example, a hidden vegetable sauce could be the perfect base for a family favorite vegan pesto pasta recipe, while also being packed with nutrients and vitamins from other vegetables.
We can struggle with fussy eaters, perhaps our children won’t eat anything we loving prepare. Maybe you just never get a chance to sit down together as a family and actually enjoy the meal time. Instead, it’s chaotic and rushed. Adding to the stress and pressure, you might be feeling. So I thought I would share with you a helpful guide to explore some of the most common reasons why mealtimes are filled with drama and hopefully provide you with some inspiration and suggestions to help you overcome this hurdle.
If you have fussy eaters
Let’s face it, one of the most common reasons your meal time isn’t a great part of the day could be because your children and even other family members are fussy. You may spend time lovingly preparing stews, roast dinners or pasta dishes only for it to be pushed away. In most cases, some children won’t even attempt to try it. It certainly can be disheartening. So here are a few suggestions to help you tackle your child’s fussiness.
Plant some fruit trees or create your own vegetable patch
Most children love to get involved in everything, so there is no surprise that this could work well in the kitchen and prepare food. So I think it would be good to take advantage of this and do a little gardening with them. You could plant some fruit trees or vegetables and watch them grow together. Here’s hoping that as the have had involvement in growing them, they may want to try the food you produce. If you are not so great at gardening, you will be pleased to know that there are many different tutorials online where you can learn about different plants, vegetables and fruit trees you could grow.
Try and get over any past experiences
Sometimes family can get ill from things like food poisoning, and this can leave a bitter taste in their mouth, not to mention the memory of it. So it can be difficult to serve up food they have had a bad experience with in the past. The best advice would be to check out websites like Unsafe Foods. This could offer encouragement to your family that certain foods you are serving are safe and normal to eat. It may also provide knowledge as to why they may have had a bad experience in the past.
Make the food more fun and appealing
The one thing many mothers like the idea of but perhaps can’t implement is making the food look appealing. But I know that if it visually looks good, it may encourage your children and family members to try things more. If it is uninviting, then they are less likely to want to. I have heard people have great success with making smiley faces or little scenes on the plate for young children. As well as presenting a meal more cleanly on the place for older members of the family. It may be worth your while to give it a try.
Encourage your children to cook with you
I think a great idea is to try and get your children to cook with you or spend more time with you in the kitchen. It’s a great way to encourage them to try different ingredients as well as see what goes into their food. There is also a sense of achievement of creating something themselves that can make them feel proud of what they have done.
Relax during meal times
Sometimes the hardest thing to do is just relax during this time of the day. Let’s be honest, most people can sense when there is an atmosphere, or someone is on edge. Relaxing could just be the perfect way to encourage your children and family to also relax and enjoy the time of day.
A rewards chart
A reward chart may not work for everyone, but it could certainly encourage your children to try more foods. Perhaps a sticker for every time they try a new food or finishes their meal. I know things like this shouldn't always be rewarded, but if it encourages them to try, I don’t see any harm.
Sometime it is worth it’s weight in gold to remain positive and give positive encouragement when it is due. Some people tend to focus on the negatives more than they should, and this won’t be giving off the message you want them to hear.
Be clever with your cooking
It’s never nice to be devious, but in this case, I think you can make an exception. A great way to avoid the fussy drama is to hide certain foods in meals. For example, a hidden vegetable sauce could be the perfect base for a family favorite pasta dish, while also being packed with nutrients and vitamins from other vegetables. It’s always good to try and encourage your children to eat, but sometimes at least this way you know they are getting the balance just right.
If you don’t have the time
Sometimes time can really escape you on a day to day basis, and this can make meal times super stressful. So here are some tips and tricks to help you overcome this hurdle.
One of the biggest dilemmas many people can face at meal time is what to cook. You may have forgotten that something needs defrosting from the freezer, or not have all the ingredients in for the meal you had been thinking about all day. Meal planning takes this stress away and enables you to plan your meals for the week. You will also then shop accordingly for that meal plan meaning you will always have the ingredients in for that meal on that day. It certainly can make life easier.
Sitting down as a family
It’s lovely to be able to sit down as a family and enjoy the evening meal, but more often than not because of work commitments, this may not be the case. The truth is, you need to relax about this. As long as you get the chance to eat together as a family at some point during your week what harm is there to eating separately from your children during the midweek rush. This could potentially free up time for you to focus on what your children are eating during the week and make some meals specific for them. However, it is always wise to eat as a family so perhaps reworking your schedule could be the answer or make the most of your weekends.
What about your family lifestyle?
In some cases, your family lifestyle could be the reason why mealtimes are problematic. Here are a few ideas to help you combat that.
Incorporate a diet and lifestyle the whole family can embrace
It can be hard when some members of the family have different diets to others. It can not only cause problems when cooking family meals but also when buying specific ingredients. Such diets and lifestyles might be things like vegetarianism or veganism. Even taking into account allergies. When it comes to specific lifestyle choices like being a vegan, it may seem like an impossible task to involve the whole family. But by making the lifestyle available for everyone, you make things much easier. Either opening up other family members to new tastes and foods, as well as accommodating for others.
Try different recipes for old family favorites
There are some recipes that the whole family love. They tend to be the food you make over and over again because everyone loves it. They tend to be something comfort food based and widely popular. Things like spaghetti bolognese and pizza are just some of the things that can be popular amongst the family. But these can be difficult to cook, especially if you are looking at a different lifestyle choice like vegetarianism or vegan. This is where you could consider looking at your favorite family meals and tweaking them to suit the new healthy diet you are trying to encourage. Bolognese can be made with a meat substitute, or even solely using plant based ingredients. Pizza can be made in a different way. So if you are pursuing a gluten-free diet, you could consider a different way of preparing the dough. Or even trying a vegetable base like using cauliflower.
Have realistic goals
It is so easy to get carried away with incorporating a new diet for the whole family. It’s easy to become disheartened if not everyone follows the same enthusiasm. So it’s vital to have realistic goals. Trying to change something completely overnight means you are asking for issues and defiance. If your family, for example, are big meat eaters, you might be hoping to incorporate a more plant based diet. So removing meat from everyone's diet completely is going to cause negativity to your positive changes. So try and make the process more gradual.
I hope this guide helps you defeat any mealtime drama from now on.