How do you get your kids to eat their dinner with enthusiasm, without serving chicken nuggets or hamburger and french fries every night? I have a tip for you…manipulate them into wanting it.
You can make it an exciting experience for them by making it something “more” than it really is! Let’s just say putting it into a different context.
Here are a few examples that I have used in my home to “help” my kids enjoy their dinner:
- Ratatouille – My children watched the movie Ratatouille about the rat who is a fabulous chef. The rat serves the city’s notorious (and most often, negative) food critic a dish that literally takes him back to his mother’s kitchen in his small peasant home. This dish, ratatouille, was considered a peasant dish and not to be served to those in the upper class. However, in this instance, it revolutionizes the future of the restaurant, the food critic and the rat! My children loved this movie for the fun, whimsical work of a rat (and a few of his friends) in an upscale restaurant kitchen. They begged that I make ratatouille for them after watching this movie. And guess what….they loved it! Now, when I have ratatouille on the menu, I always make sure to put the movie on first.
- Stone Soup – Have you ever read the book Stone Soup to your children? It is a lovely little story about penniless strangers coming into town and asking the community for food. Everyone in the town disappears and refuses to help them. The strangers are able to outwit the townspeople into making a wonderful pot of soup for everyone to enjoy. After reading this story, my children wanted to be like the towns people and bring many foods into the soup pot. With the enthusiastic part they played in creating their own “stone soup,” the dish was a hit!
- Shepherd’s Pie – One time, I told my children that Shepherds out in the pasture watching over their sheep needed to have a well-balanced, nutritious meal to keep their energy up and their attention focused. Plus they didn’t have the means to carry a lot with them while tending the sheep. Shepherd’s Pie enabled them to have their meat, vegetables and starch all in one dish. But, upon research, this isn’t true (I’ll be sure to revise my story the next time I serve Shepherd’s Pie). Shepherd’s Pie originated in northern England and Scotland where there are a large number of sheep. The meat pie was a way for frugal peasant women to use up leftover meat, usually lamb or beef. Nevertheless, I’m sure you can make it into a fun story to convince your kids to eat it.
- Prairie Meal – My daughter read the Little House on the Prairie series over the past year and really enjoyed them. Her third grade class had “Prairie Day” where they played prairie games, made homemade butter, visited a log cabin and ate a prairie lunch. Such items that consisted of the prairie lunch were hard-boiled eggs, chunk cheese, hard salami and bread with butter. Carrying the lunch in a pale, basket or handkerchief made the food taste even better.
What creative ideas do you use to get your children to eat their dinner with excitement?
Be sure to check back in next Friday as I have one more trick up my sleeve to get your picky eaters to be more adventuresome at the dinner table. If you missed last weeks post, I give other tips for dealing with picky eaters.