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Mealtime should be enjoyable and it definitely can be fun. But it doesn’t always go that way. (Despite your best efforts.) If you’re like me, the chances are you too, probably have at least one child who doesn’t love to eat! No matter how hard you struggle, it may feel like you just can’t get him to eat! Meals can become stressful instead of enjoyable. Maybe for whatever reason, you’ve just lost the joy of eating together. Mealtime just isn’t as fun anymore. Well, I want to help you make mealtime a BLAST!!
If you’ve been around here for any length of time you’ve probably heard me say that planning is the key to success. If you have a plan in place then dinner will be much more fun because you won’t be stressing and trying to figure out what to throw on the table.
The ONE question that makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck is ‘WHAT’S FOR DINNER????’
I usually try to hide under the kitchen table in the hopes that nobody sees me as I pray that the kids will leave the kitchen wondering where I am! For some reason that question makes me cringe every time…….UNLESS I am prepared and I have planned ahead.
Nothing adds more joy than knowing EXACTLY what to expect. Therefore I cannot stress enough that you MUST have a plan for dinner!
BONUS TIP: If you really want to be prepared and get ahead, then I can’t say enough good about Once a Month Meals. This service is AH-mazing!! Once you sign up, you can plan out a months worth of meals along with a grocery shopping list and complete instructions to prepare and freeze all of your meals for a month! You won’t be hiding under the table like me anymore!! (They also have special menus for people with limited diets, i.e. gluten-free/dairy-free, paleo, etc.) If you like the Instant Pot or plan if you plan to do Whole 30 with your family, there are so many options!!
Make it a Theme Night
Themes are so much FUN!
When I was growing up, my grandma did everything from ALL ‘green’ dinners to eating like we were on a tropical island.
The sky really is the limit with a theme and this would be a good place to ask your kids what ideas they have.
Once you come up with a theme, try shopping at the Dollar Tree or your local thrift store. You would be surprised at how many things you can find that will work for your theme.
Of course you need to make sure to get the kids involved because….the more the merrier!
You will see how much fun it is to eat foods with crazy names and how much more receptive your kids are to eating (it’s so good for picky eaters) when you’re serving Cowboy Stew versus a plain old roast!
Playing games at the dinner table is a GREAT way to get everyone involved.
There are so many fun table games that you can play as you eat. Check out the Family Time Fun Dinner Games for some really fun games that you can play at the table. They are nicely organized into age appropriate categories.
Playing games together as a family is a great way to build strong family ties that last a lifetime.
There is something about laughing together and making memories that kids just love. The games can be silly or they can be more along the lines of logic and thinking games.
Whatever the case, if you play games with your kids at the dinner table it is a great way to interact.
Prepare Meals That Are Fun
Along the same lines of having a theme night, preparing meals that are fun is a great idea.
If you can find a special way to cut something and make it look a little more fun, then kids are a lot more likely to eat it.
Pinterest has so many great ideas for fun kids food.
You can check out my Pinterest board for inspiration.
I never really knew that you could turn an apple into a set of teeth! Use your imagination to prepare your meals! It makes it much more enjoyable and engaging for kids.
Alternately, you can also prepare meals together, such as personal pizzas. Or a pancake bar with toppings.
Nachos are always a fun meal as well as a potato bar. Use your imagination! The sky is the limit!
And don’t forget to include your kids! Kids LOVE to cook and it’s a great way to spend time together getting their hearts!
Have a Conversation Jar
If you are new to eating together as a family, then sometimes it can be hard to think about things to talk about. (Even if you’re not, sometimes it’s easy to get stuck in a rut!)
A conversation jar is a great solution to that problem.
Before the dinner starts you’ll need to prepare some topics of conversation and write them on slips of paper. Put them in a mason jar and each person will take a turn pulling out a topic at the dinner meal. Be sure to make your topics light-hearted and fun and something that everyone can participate in. Avoid controversial topics that might cause arguments.
This is supposed to be a fun time together!
Eat Dessert First
Yes you read that right!
Every once in awhile kids need to see that their parents can have fun! What better way to have fun then to eat dessert first?
Your kid’s eyes will pop out of your heads if you serve them a brownie buffet or a sundae bar!
Go ahead and lay out toppings and have FUN going crazy doing something you rarely or maybe never ever do!
I’m telling you if you try this one you will definitely be the best mom in the world! Your kids will be bragging all about you in the neighborhood!! But beware, their friends will want to come and live with you! Or at the very least, eat dinner at your house!
Try Something New
Is there a new recipe that you have been putting off trying? Do you have any brave souls that might like to try something like sushi?
If that’s a little extreme that’s OK. Just find something that you have never tried before and enjoy eating it together!
It’s good for kids to see that their parents can stretch themselves and eat something new. It’s fun to try new things and explore new tastes!
And again, if you are at a loss for inspiration, try Pinterest (can you tell I love Pinterest?). Or try an old family recipe that has gotten lost in the archives.
Whatever you do, stretch yourself!
Have Company for Dinner
Sorry I couldn’t resist!
Really though, you should try having someone over for dinner! You’ll get to know other people and their ideas and add some new conversation to your family.
It’s always fun to serve a dinner to families other than your own and enjoy time spent with someone else.
It’s good for your kids to learn to be around other people as well and it’s a great time for them to practice their manners!
Serve Breakfast for Dinner
If you’ve never had pancakes and eggs for dinner then you’re missing out!
There is something fun about serving breakfast for dinner that kids just really love! Maybe it’s the extra maple syrup that makes it taste a little like a treat, but I know in our house, when I serve breakfast for dinner no one complains!
Try mixing it up a little bit and make shapes out of your pancakes. Or spell your kids names. Or try pancake Pictionary! You make something out of a pancake and have your kids guess what it is.
Fondue is one of my very most favorite things to eat/do.
There is something so fun about cooking your own meal at the table.
The neat thing that I love about fondue is it takes a long time and generates a lot of conversation. You definitely don’t want to be in a rush whenever you decide to do fondue together as a family.
You can do a main course fondue and follow it up with a dessert fondue. Or you can do cheese fondue. There are literally so many options for recipes.
If you are looking for a GREAT fondue pot, I LOVE this one!
(side note… my husband and I like to do fondue nights with each of our children individually to spend some one-on-one time with them. It’s a great time to catch up with them and hear what is on their heart. It also makes for a very great date night when we aren’t able to leave the house to go out and do something special.)
Hopefully you can find a few ways to make family meal time fun! I hope I’ve gotten your wheels turning and that I’ve given you some inspiration!
Related: kitchen shoes – Here you’ll find fun meal prepping ideas.
How do you make your family mealtime fun? Are there any ideas that you’ve tried that I haven’t mentioned here? Comment below and let me know! I’d love to hear!