Dinnertime is a big deal in our household, and not only because we’re a fairly gluttonous crew, though there is no denying that is a huge factor. Despite the gluttony, it’s more important because it is the time of day we reconnect and refuel after our busy days.
Dinnertime is a ritual that provides consistency and connection, even when we’re on the road. It is always a sit-down occasion and we always eat together. My childhood was the opposite, as our family rarely ate together. Mum was usually busy in the kitchen, dad would be watching cricket on the couch in his undies, using his belly as a stable table, and my brother and I would hightail it to our respective rooms so we could chuck anything that even vaguely resembled a Brussels sprout out the window for the dogs. (Sorry Mum, but I still can’t look a sprout in the eye).
Things are different now I am the parent. At home, my kids join me in the kitchen and are involved in every aspect of a meal, from selecting menus to food prep and cooking. There are no undies involved, we use a table in place of a belly for balancing our meals, Brussels sprouts are not even a consideration, and if we even had a dog it would starve as Raffles tends to lick plates clean.
But something has gone askew of late and between work, school and the kids’ never-ending raft of activities, we’re struggling to find the time to properly connect in the kitchen or over the table. We barely even have time to do to the grocery shopping. And we are all miserable for it.
Enter HelloFresh. Like us, the folks at HelloFresh believe the foundations of any great meal are simple, healthy ingredients, created with a little bit of love. But they also understand that school night cooking needs to be fast and healthy without being dull.
HelloFresh delivers a week’s worth of simple but irresistible recipes along with all the fresh ingredients we need to make them, straight to our door. Not only is it making us experiment with new tastes and flavours from all over the world, like this creamy chicken pasta recipe that the kids both love, but Raffles and Sugarpuff get excited going through the weekly delivery, finding out what’s on the menu and working with me to recreate the recipes, both of them learning new skills along the way. And most importantly, we know we’re getting the best seasonal produce because to us what goes on our plate is as important as what goes on over it.
And most importantly, we know we’re getting the best seasonal produce because to us what goes on our plate is as important as what goes on over it.
Speaking of which, here are our top tips for making family mealtimes magic…
- Turn off the tech
This means no TV, no phones and no electronic devices, they create too much distraction.
- Make it fun
Keep dinnertime conversations pleasant by raising fun topics the kids will be happy to participate in.
- It’s all good
Keep conversations positive, teach kids that it’s ok if they don’t like something but they should allow others to enjoy it.
- The host with the most
Once a week let the kids take turns at “hosting’ dinner. Their meal choice, their conversation choice.
- Eat together
Try to eat together at the dinner table but you can always change it up with a “floor picnic” or eating outside in the garden, it is about being together more than the location.
- Under pressure
Don’t put too much pressure on kids with new dishes as it is counterproductive. That doesn’t mean I won’t offer them something they’ve rejected before. Developing palates sometimes need to be exposed to new flavors several times to get used to them. I just take a break between attempts.
- Lead by example
I know people who are fussy eaters who are surprised that their children are fussy eaters. If you carry on about certain foods and food groups and balk at trying new things– expect the same behaviour from your kids.
- Play with your food
Meal times should be fun and visuals can be important to kids. Kids love interactive meals that allow them to get involved. Think steamboats, fondues, picking plates and tapas.
- Kids in the kitchen
The best way to get kids to try new flavours without argument is to get them to help prepare it. They’re never going to diss their own dish.