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NOW CLOSED:Bisto Aah Night want your top tips on how to enjoy family meal times - 2 x £100 hampers up for grabs, plus additional chance to win £1000

(73 Posts)
rebeccamumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 26-Nov-10 12:59:48

The Bisto Aah Night campaign is trying to help families put aside one evening a week for a proper home cooked meal together. A while back we asked Mumsnetters to volunteer
to try the Aah Night challenge and film their efforts and you can see their edited films here and here. Do take a minute (or 3.23 mins to be precise) to watch the films and then answer this question for a chance to win a £100 hamper of goodies.

If you click here you can also find out how your child could be one of 5 new Bisto Kids by telling Bisto how you'd make Aah Night happen in your family. Winners will be the new faces of the campaign and have the chance to win a £500 Red Letter Day experience plus every entrant gets the chance to win £1000 in cash. (closing date for this is NOV 29TH so hurry!!!)

Bisto would also love to hear your family's top tips on fitting in family meal time into a busy schedule- how often (if at all) do you manage it? Do you enjoy it? How can you make it easier, more enjoyable etc? Everyone who posts their tips on this thread will be entered into a prize draw to win another £100 hamper of goodies. Your tips may be used on Mumsnet and elsewhere. If you want to pledge your support for the campaign, sign up here. Thanks and good luck.

4andnotout Fri 26-Nov-10 13:07:01

My tips are:
Start early, mine sat at the table during meal times even as small babies in reclined highchairs, they seemed to like the atmosphere.
Tv or radio off and use it as a time to have a good old chatter and talk about the day, my dd's will eat more as they don't realise they are doing it as they are engrosed in the conversation.
My toddlers liked to use the mini versions of our cutlery, it made them feel more grown up.

SuePurblybiltByElves Fri 26-Nov-10 13:17:19

My top tips:

Have your ground rules - eating vegetables, closing mouth when chewing, not passing half chewed bits to Mummy cos you don't like them - and stick to them. But don't turn each mealtime into a test, let the small stuff go.
Have water jugs, napkins and proper cutlery out, even for a quick supper.
Have one night a week as a relaxed picnic-style dinner - home-made pizzas on laps is ours.
To get veggies eaten, offer a choice between two or three. They can have carrots or brocolli but they're definitely having one grin.
If something causes arguments, ban it as a topic of conversation. Don't use dinner time as the only time to get family logistics sorted or grievances aired. It'll give you indigestion grin

Cyb Fri 26-Nov-10 13:28:00

Top tips

Slow cooker!Bung it all in before work and its ready at 5pm

We eat as a family every night and every meal at the weekend <smug>

NEVER have the telly on!
I di a 'big' meal a few times a week, roast, stew, chicken etc then a couple of suppery quick things , soup, cheese on toast etc on a couple of nights too.

Basic manners-dont get up, chew quietly, if you dont like it, say it politely!

stickersarecurrency Fri 26-Nov-10 13:32:34

Yes to starting early, and move them to a booster chair as soon as you can so they can sit at the table too. Letting them serve themselves is a good way to encourage them to try everything. Don't take it personally if they need a liberal helping of cheese or ketchup (or Bisto!) to render whatever you're offering palatable. And sit in your seat and stay there or you end up hovering and coaxing - have a glass of wine and relax, your job's to provide the food, not make them eat it!

nymphadora Fri 26-Nov-10 13:36:17

Encouraging children to help cook tea/take turns cooking depending on age

My older dds like playing 'cone dine with me' which has some jnteresting menus ...

pozzled Fri 26-Nov-10 13:37:28

Definitely don't stress about who is eating what and how much- serve up the food and then enjoy eating it yourself. Children will eat more the more relaxed the atmosphere is.

Top-tips:

Use menu planning to help have more meals together. If you know you'll not have much time to cook one evening then use the slow cooker or a 5 minute meal.

Serve the kids meals first so they can cool. My kids get annoyed if we're sat eating and they have to wait for theirs to cool.

We could manage it most nights but sometimes I'll have mine on my own for a bit of a break from the kids blush.

NiceShoes Fri 26-Nov-10 13:40:23

No Television during meals.

Sometimes DP is not here so just me and the DC but still no Television! Everyone has opportunity to say how their week has been (no heavy or argumentative stuff though).

Saturday night is tea on laps eg pizza,hot
dogs.dips and chips, and DVD to follow.We do a Big Sunday dinner, lots of food, veg, gravy, Yorkshire puddings.Over a nice long time,lots chat and eating.My own parents made big deal of Sunday dinner,so I like doing it too.

YouKnowStuffingisforLunch Fri 26-Nov-10 13:55:18

Give the children something to do to help construct the meal - putting peas into a saucepan for little ones (expect some to end up on the floor), and making sauces or mixing things for older ones - it doesn't need to take long, but it makes them feel like they're a part of the process. Which in turn makes them incredibly willing to try new things and eat well.

NiceShoes Fri 26-Nov-10 14:04:14

Thats a good idea!i do get them to set table,carry cutlery.Will use your suggestions though.Thanks!

YouKnowStuffingisforLunch Fri 26-Nov-10 14:07:20

Ds1 (12) has now got to the stage where he grumbles if asked to help, but he'll also offer to make a full meal . He makes a mean pasta and really seems to enjoy cooking, which is great.

CheeryCherry Fri 26-Nov-10 14:29:38

Get the children involved as the meal is nearly ready, one to set table, one to do drinks. No telly, maybe background music. We always light a candle, seems to bring an air of calm. Agree with others re booster seats as soon as possible,allows them to be part of the group more easily.
And make it a regular thing, where a time for chatting and passing on info/news becomes normal.
We had a come dine with me week in the last holidays, each had a night to cook. scores and positive/constructive comments in sealed envelopes, revealed on final night - it was great! Plus I only had to cook once that week!

aristocat Fri 26-Nov-10 15:00:59

we always use placemats/nice cutlery/napkins for meals together at the table.
the children like helping 'set' the table and clearing away afterwards smile

we also do alot of 'family service' where extra veggies are in bowls and you can help yourself to more!

piprabbit Fri 26-Nov-10 15:06:59

The best family meals are the ones where I've been organised enough in advance to make a meal and freeze it.
There is something rather wonderful about providing your family with a lovingly made, home-cooked shepherd's pie, lasagne or casserole without having had to do more than reheat it.
It's the best way to have relaxing meal together (minimal washing up too which is a bonus).

TheProvincialLady Fri 26-Nov-10 15:22:47

Just do it. If you see eating together as the default setting and plan around that, then it will become second nature to everyone rather than being a big, high pressure, high stress event. No need for fancy food, place settings and manners unless you want those, just eating together without the tv on!

If you don't have space for a table, and a lot of people don't, then eating with the tv off and sitting facing one enother talking is still good.

MayorNaze Fri 26-Nov-10 15:45:46

do you know, i am going to join cyb on the smug table and echo TheProvincialLady by saying that we eat together at the table virtually every night - i find it really sad that it is not "normal" for other families though i can appreciate it is not always easy. we have just always done it, it is the normal place to eat meals in our house, on laps in front of tv is a treat.

i'm going to get flamed and dipped in bisto now aren't i?

and btw the links to the vids on the questions link don't work?

devilsadvocaat Fri 26-Nov-10 16:28:36

we eat at the table every night and all together 6 out of 7 nights too.

i get ds1 (3) to help cook every night.

i give ds2 (1) a small snack at 4/5 ish so he isn't too hungry by the time my dh is home.

Tortington Fri 26-Nov-10 16:42:57

my top tip.

as few rules as possible. enjoy your food, enjoy that others enjoy your food. and talk and laugh.

mealtimes should be the time of day when we all sit down togethre and communicate, mealtimes are brilliant for this. We have a rule that we ask each other what we have done today, and we listen, laugh, comment and contribute. Mealtimes are one of the few times that you are all together in one place just savouring the moment. Its a great time of the day to be enjoyed

CheeseCheese Fri 26-Nov-10 16:44:25

Serve meals at the table. People eat more and linger longer

TorcherQueenie Fri 26-Nov-10 16:44:30

Make the table look nice even if you're eating rubbish adding that little bit to your surrondings can really help you relax.

Set time aside one night a week to all eat togther, no plans are to be made on that night its got to be family night.

5GoldenFimbos Fri 26-Nov-10 16:45:03

Not relevant but I used to have a Bisto massive cushion/bean bag thing when I was small and it was fab. Wish I still had it to be honest.

We try to have meal times together with tv off (we have one in the kitchen) and get the dc to chat about their day and we tell them about ours. Ds likes to set the table, which was always my job when I was a child.

ProfYaffle Fri 26-Nov-10 16:48:09

My tips:

Remember it's supposed to be fun. Try not to get too uptight about 'shoulds', relax and have fun together. (wine helps!)

We get the kids involved in growing and preparing their food which encourages them to try new things.

My dd1 is a really fussy eater. Our plan is to all eat 'safe' food we know she will eat a couple of times a week, we challenge her with new stuff a couple of times a week and another couple of times the children get sandwiches/beans on toast and dh and I get to eat exotic food the dc won't eat.

It's OK to give yourself a break just have beans on toast sometimes rather than feel chained to the whole evening meal routine.

Whippet Fri 26-Nov-10 17:22:20

Demolish small kitchen and create lovely kitchen breakfast room smile

Start cooking while kids do homework - allows you to 'oversee'/hover and drink wine cook at the same time.

Get everyone involved/ laying table/ water jugs etc

Rules: No TV, no electronics (phone - DS) (iPad - DH angry )

Stick mostly to tried and tested favourites for weekdays.

We do it 3-4 times a week, as DH & I work from home, so are around.

It's an important part of family life...

If you're the one making the dinner, don't get too hung up on clearing as you go - it's more important that you sit down to eat at the same time as your family. Don't worry about wiping the sides down or putting cooking pans in to soak first, they'll keep.

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