Developing healthy family dinner time habits

Kinderling News & Features

How do you and your family eat dinner? 

Meal times are a great way to experience positive family connections and role-model healthy nutrition in front of your kids. Gathering together around the table for some yummy nosh can set children up with healthy eating habits for life.

So how can you make sure that your kids enjoy the whole meal time experience? 

Allie Gaunt, co-founder of One Handed Cooks, shares her tips for developing good eating practices at the dinner table. 

Listen to Allie on Kinderling Conversation:

1. Develop a mealtime ritual

Discuss new dinner time routines and boundaries with your kids. By agreeing on the rules together, children are more inclined to stick to them. Create a meal time ritual with a beginning, middle and an end so children know what to expect. This can be very simple - dinner warning, wash hands, set the table, sit at the table, eat, ask to be excused, wash hands and face.

2. Go screen free, every time

If this is a new concept for your family, start with a few dedicated ‘no technology’ nights. All technology should be switched off before dinner and everyone eats together, at the table. Gradually include more of these nights until they are the norm.

3. Meal plan

Let your kids help with meal planning and have them choose one or two meals for the week ahead. This will help keep them excited and returning to the dinner table each night! Beef, veggie and ricotta lasagna is an easy meal to create for all hungry tummies. A quick pea and zucchini baked risotto is another hit, and so are simple salmon and ricotta cakes.

4. Eat together at the table

Choose to eat at the dinner table rather than on the couch. This encourages good posture, meal time manners, eye contact and social interaction. Even if you aren’t eating your dinner at the same time, sit with the kids and talk to them. Maybe have a small serving for yourself at that time so you can demonstrate good eating habits.

5. Fill your freezer

Often when we get busy, our meals suffer and we fall into the convenience food trap. It doesn’t take long for kids to start refusing other foods. Try and use less busy evenings and weekends to do some big batch cooking. This allows you to have healthy, home cooked meals in the freezer ready to cook and eat.