If you have kids who protest against veggies, and “here comes the plane” has worn thin, you’re not alone.
“The Realistic Mum”, blogger Kell Ferguson, is familiar with your pain, being mother to picky toddlers who sometimes make dinner time tough.
“Dinner is a bit of a painful time of the day,” Kell told Hope Media’s Emma Mullings. “I spend all this time making it, and the kids are hanging off me, whining that they’re starving, and that they need to eat something now, and then they turn around and say they’re not hungry at the table.”
Kell has put some thought into this problem and come up with some very creative solutions.
Tip 1 – Let The Kids Help Set The Dinner Menu
Give your children a say in what’s for dinner. Find out their favourite meals, and feature them on your weekly menu.
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“We had a ‘family meeting’ and I started to write down some things about what they like,” Kell said. “Ask the kids what they like eating, and cook that, and make a deal with them that sometimes they get to choose as well.”
Tip 2 – Put The Veggies On A Stick
“Put it on a stick” is one of Kell’s most unlikely, and effective, vegetable catch-cries.
“I put meat and vegetables on a stick and my kids seem to annihilate their dinner,” she said. “I don’t know what the difference is, maybe it just looks prettier. But it works for me, so try it!”
Tip 3 – Get The Kids to Help Make Dinner
Getting your kids involved in the cooking can be a very effective way to help them appreciate – and enjoy – their food more.
“If they know the dinner was made by them, they seem to enjoy it more, so I get them up on stools and cutting up vegetables and helping stir things,” Kell said. “They really enjoy that.”
Tip 4 – Offer Rewards
The promise of a reward can help a child get through the bits of dinner they enjoy less.
“I know lots of people don’t like ‘bribery’ but when you get to the point of desperation, I have this little trick I use that if they eat all their dinner, at the end they get a lollie or a treat,” Kell said.
“It’s usually so small; at the moment I’ve been using vitamin gummies. They get a probiotic chocolate ball and a gummy and they think they’re getting two lollies. It’s a win for me!”
Tip 5 – Hiding The Vegetables
It’s an oldie but a goodie: “hidden” vegetables.
While there are only so many meals you can prepare using vegetables blended into a sauce, this trick has been used for generations.
Kell says “a bowl of steamed veggies and some pasta sauce (also containing puree veggies) with a spoon in it” is a sure-fire winner with her children.
Tip 6 – Dinner Games
Simply adding some excitement to dinner time with a food-related game, can distract the kids off the fact that they’re eating vegetables.
“My dinner games are completely made up on the spot,” Kel says. “We take in turns blindfolding each other and guessing what we put in our mouth off the plate… We go around the table and pick one thing off each other’s plate to eat… Who can eat the fastest, slowest, noisiest, quietest?”
A bit of creativity can go a long way to making dinner plates emptier, and meal times happier.
Kell Ferguson writes at TheRealisticMum.com