Family Mealtime


Family meals allow your preschooler to focus on the task of eating, and the time spent together gives you a chance to be a good example with eating habits. Here are some suggestions from experts at the U.S. Department of Agriculture that will make this process easier. 

Remember, it takes a little work to bring everyone together for meals. But it's worth it, and the whole family eats better.

  • Start eating meals together as a family when your kids are young. This way, it becomes a habit.
  • Plan when you will eat together as a family. Write it on your calendar.
  • You may not be able to eat together every day, but try to have family meals most days of the week.

How to Make Family Meals Enjoyable

  • Focus on the meal and each other. 
  • Turn off the television. Take phone calls or texts later. 
  • Talk about fun and happy things. Try to make meals a stress-free time.
  • Encourage your child to try different foods. But don't lecture or force your child to eat.
  • Involve your child in conversation. Ask questions like:
    • What made you feel really happy today?
    • What did you have to eat at lunch today?
    • What's your favorite veggie? Why?
    • Tell me one thing you learned today.
    • What made you laugh today?

Have Your Child Help You Get Ready to Eat

Depending on their age, your child may be able to:

  • Help set the table
  • Put pets, toys or books in another room
  • Turn off the TV
  • Pour milk (with help)
  • Put down place mats
  • Hand out napkins and silverware
  • Pick flowers for the table
  • Clear the table
  • Wipe the table

Ideas for Fast Family Meals

  • Cook it fast on busy nights. Try stir-fried meat and vegetables, quick soups, sandwiches or quesadillas.
  • Save time by doing some tasks the day before. Wash and cut vegetables or make a fruit salad. Cook lean ground beef or turkey for burritos or chili. Store everything in the fridge until ready to use.
  • Search online for quick, tasty recipes that don't cost a lot to make.