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February 2018

3 Simple Ways To Get Kids Involved At Mealtime

Getting the kids involved in meal-related activities is a great step toward developing a healthy relationship with food. While the youngest children may not play as large of a role in the process until their reading, counting, and fine motor skills have further developed, it can still be an exciting way for them to learn about different foods and see how they look, feel, and smell. Older children benefit from this exposure as well and can begin to familiarize themselves with different products and food labels.

Children may be more likely to try new foods at mealtime if they are involved in the process of getting the food there, whether this is through meal planning, grocery shopping, meal preparation, or a combination of these! Here are some suggested tasks for the kids to get you started:

1. Meal Planning

  • Browse through cookbooks or online recipes together
  • Make a list of the family’s favourite meals
  • Help choose new foods that the family will try together
  • Write out the grocery list
  • Plan a few meals during the week
    • You may end up making more mac & cheese or chicken fingers than you’d like that week, but with the satisfaction of having planned the meal themselves, they may open up to the idea of planning healthier meals in the future.

2. Grocery Shopping

  • Cross items off the grocery list as you shop
  • Help find fresh fruits & vegetables (ex: find the best bunch of bananas)
  • Count food items (ex: choose 6 red apples and put them in a bag)
  • Find grocery list items and place them in the shopping cart

3. Meal Preparation

Involving the kids in mealtime preparation does not have to mean a big mess! Assign age-appropriate tasks that they can do independently.

  • Find ingredients in the fridge 
  • Wash fruits and vegetables in the sink
  • Measure ingredients with measuring cups and spoons
  • Mix ingredients together in a bowl
  • Plate the food when it’s ready to serve
  • Set the table

Author: Melissa Frankel, Registered Dietitian