Mealtimes with kids can be enjoyable or stressful – something you’ll know all too well if you’ve got a fussy eater or a restless little one who refuses to sit still.
Whether they’re reluctant to eat their veggies or attempting to make a break for it the second your head is turned, there are several ways you can make mealtime more fun – a strategy that can help to get them more eager to join the rest of the family at the dinner table.
In this post, we’ll cover a few of our favorite ways to achieve this – all of which are simple, inexpensive ways that, with a little effort, you can turn mealtimes from chore to fun activity with ease.
So, here it is – our eight ways you can make mealtime more fun for your little one.
8 effortless ways to make mealtime more fun
1. Get them involved in the cooking
Probably the simplest way to make mealtime more fun is to get your kids involved in the kitchen, helping you as you prep the family meal. This one is especially great because you have to do it anyway – making it pretty effortless to get started.
That said, it might end up taking you a little longer to prepare with your little one involved – but over time, you’ll eventually find them less or a hindrance and more of a help once they get into the swing of things and begin to learn the ropes.
It’s essential only to let them help with age-appropriate things – you obviously won’t have your toddler chopping garlic for you or flambe a steak. Keep it simple – washing fruit and vegetables is a great way to start.
2. Choose brightly colored foods
Sugary treats aren’t the only option when it comes to fun, brightly colored foods – there are a whole bunch of fruit and veggies available in every color of the rainbow.
Mixing these up, creating new and exciting assortments of tasty, healthy foods is not just fun, but also useful in getting your child more eager to chow down their vegetables.
When you start shopping specifically for variety, you’ll be surprised just how much choice there is in the produce aisle – and you might even find a few items you’ve never tried or even heard of before. This can have educational benefits, creating a culinary adventure for the whole family to enjoy.
3. Make fun-shaped food
Another easy way to make mealtime more fun is to make food less boring. We’ve already covered color – but how about shape? And no, we don’t mean all those awful, processed foods; we mean making your own, healthy dino-shaped additions to your dinner plate.
Perhaps the best must-have utensil for any parent of a dino-obsessed kid is a dinosaur cookie cutter set. Not just for cookies – these incredibly versatile addition to your arsenal of fun cookware are great at turning all sorts of food items into fun, tasty dinos.
And it’s not just food either – cookie cutters are great for everything from making dino-shaped sponges for painting to doubling up as excellent dinosaur Play-Doh tools. They’re simply a must-have for any parent.
4. Have themed dinner nights
Themed dinner nights are great. Whether it’s Monday night spaghetti or taco nights – any excuse to get the dinosaur taco holders out – they’re an excellent way for your family to bond, being great for parents and children alike.
These don’t need to be overly complicated – take tacos, for example – there aren’t too many meals that are easier to throw together. Holding themed dinner nights can also help you if you’re on a tight budget, as forcing you to plan ahead will make it easier to save money on your shopping bill.
You’ll also help to introduce routine – which is essential in child development. And likewise, the more food planning and prep you do, the less likely you are to lazily order out. Something that will keep all the family in better health and prevent your little one from developing poor eating habits that can remain a problem into adulthood.
5. Consider fun, themed tableware
There are loads of themed-tableware on the market. Dinosaur plates, cutlery, salt and pepper shakers – just about anything you can imagine is available in a dino-theme that your little one is sure to love.
Themed children’s plates are especially good, given that these will be appropriately sized, ensuring your little one gets the right size portion. This will help prevent them from putting on excess weight, keeping them fit and healthy while developing good eating habits that will last a lifetime.
This can also be useful in helping to foster a sense of independence in your child, giving them their own plate and cutlery, as opposed to the generic, boring ones we adults have no other option but to use.
6. Finish up with dino-shaped jello
What’s more fun than jello? We’ll tell you – dinosaur-shaped jello, of course! Every kid’s favorite, low-effort dessert is made even better when it’s shaped like a ferocious dino.
There are plenty of dinosaur-shaped jello molds on the market – but if you’re an avid baker, you might want to instead opt for a dinosaur cake pan, with this oven-safe alternative giving you twice the versatility. Another great option can be dinosaur silicone molds, with which you can make individual jellos, perfect for anyone whose conscious of portion size.
While jello isn’t exactly healthy, it is low-calorie and fat-free, making it a better dessert option than things like cake or ice cream. It’s also super cheap, easy to make, and what could finish up a great, fun meal better than biting into a brightly colored, wobbly dinosaur?
7. Go al fresco, weather permitting
Depending on where you live and the time of year, why not take your meal outside when you can. Better yet, why not turn it into a picnic?
Being outside is great – and a change of scenario can be good for the whole family, not just kids. During the summer months, why not make a habit of it, being a great way to spend quality family time together and help get and keep your little one more active.
You’re not going to pack up a Sunday roast with all the trimmings – so you’ll need to plan ahead and give some thought to your al fresco dining meal choices, especially if you lack a backyard and need to take it with you to the park.
8. Don’t stop at dinner. Make lunchtime fun too!
If your little is already at preschool, there are a few dino-themed items you can invest in to make lunchtime just as fun as family dinner nights.
It starts with a dinosaur lunch box – of which there are plenty to choose from. You can then mix and match this with other themed accessories, like a dinosaur water bottle, or even get a set that matches their mini dinosaur backpack.
To top it off, pick up a set of dinosaur sandwich cutters. These inexpensive kitchenware accessories cost no more than a few bucks and turn any ordinary sandwich into a prehistoric lunch that is sure to impress all their little friends.
There’s perhaps nothing as essential to creating strong family bonds than mealtimes – as they say, the family that eats together, sticks together.
But if you’ve got a fussy eater or a little one who refuses to stay at the table, this can be pretty challenging. This is where the tips and strategies we’ve covered can help – working to turn eating from chore to fun activity, keeping them engaged and eager to participate.
As we hope we’ve shown, it doesn’t have to be complicated – and with a little effort, you’ll get there. Just remember, as with most things, It’s essential to have fun – and mealtimes are certainly no different.