Mealtimes can be stressful when bringing up a young family. Take a look at our food hacks to get children engaged and enjoying dinner time.
The Government’s Food Statistics Pocketbook 2014 reveals that in 2013, only ‘16% of children achieved 5 a day.’ It also exposes the huge food wastage which occurs in households – with around ‘7 million tonnes being thrown away in the UK’ each year.
We spoke to Dr Rosalind Miller, a Nutrition Scientist at the British Nutrition Foundation, to find out how parents can make mealtimes easier, children’s food fun but nutritious, as well as how to minimise waste.
Serve food in an ice cube tray
Dr Miller advises that ‘some small children need to be offered food more than ten times before they try it, so don’t let refusals put you off offering it again.’ Do everything you can to make food look appealing and ‘offer small tastes, alongside foods they enjoy.’ For fussy eaters, using an ice cube tray allows you to serve a variety of healthy foods with different flavours, colours and textures. This will help meals seem fun and encourage youngsters to try new tastes.
Double the quantities
One of the biggest mealtime stresses is having time to cook in the evenings. Dr Miller suggests ‘when you do have time to cook a family meal, why not make double the quantity and freeze the rest for when you need a quick meal?’ This way you’ll save a significant amount of time cooking extra meals, but will still guarantee your family are properly fed. Freezing any leftovers also reduces waste and helps you save money.
Promote your child to sous-chef
Dr Miller recommends that parents ‘take a family approach to eating,’ as children ‘adopt patterns of those around them, so eat family meals together, and get the kids involved in activities.’ You can do this when cooking, food shopping, or by asking them to choose their favourite dishes from your preferred recipe book. This will make food and mealtimes more exciting and engaging, whilst also teaching them life skills and cooking basics.