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How to make meal times less stressful

Categories: Food & Cooking, Kid Matters

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By Sarah from Sarah and the Goon Squad and Draft Day Suit

Mealtime with little kids can be totally stressful, especially if you have picky eaters like I do. My daughter, especially used to throw a fit pretty much every night we didn’t have either plain pasta or chicken nuggets. Since we all require some vitamins and my husband and I prefer to eat alternate proteins at least twice a week we have come up with a few simple ideas to make our mealtimes - often the only time we spend all together as a family on week days - less stressful.

We “Let” Them Help Cook the Meal

My kids, particularly my son, is much more likely to try a new food if he is involved in the cooking process. If he helps cook the meal he not only knows all of the ingredients, but he also takes pride in the meal and is far more likely to experiment with foods that he has not tried before.

Bonuses: Extra together time, less screen time

Let the Kids Choose Meals Too

In our house we started meal planning all together. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays my husband and I choose the meals and the kids get to choose the family meals on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Of course they must choose well balanced meals and McDonalds is not an option. If you are wondering, yes, we usually end up eating spaghetti once a week, but that is okay, we all like spaghetti.

Bonus: I only have to figure out what to make three times a week. If I don’t have a plan I will stress about what to make for dinner.

Plan B

When we cook something really unusual or not kid friendly we offer a “plan B”. I make them try the mulligatawny, fish or borscht but then they can eat macaroni and cheese.

Bonuses: Sometimes they like the new food. This is a great way to get rid of leftovers.

Tacos or Homemade Pizza

The beauty of tacos or homemade pizza is that everyone in the family can choose their own toppings. My daughter can eat a taco with just cheese and lettuce and my husband can have meat, onions, tomatoes, peppers, salsa, cheese and guacamole and we are still all eating the same meal.

Bonus: I make one meal. We eat together. We can all eat what we like to eat. No fighting.

That is how we do it as Casa de Goon Squad. How do you make family meal times less stressful?

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One comment so far...

  • I do a lot of meal prep the night before so I can get dinner on the table sooner, before we all get cranky. For example, if we are having stir fry, then I will chop veggies and put chicken in marinade after the kids go to bed so I can throw it all in the pan and have dinner right away at 5:00 the next day.

    Allison  |  October 7th, 2010 at 12:43 am