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Talk to Schwartz about making mealtimes run smoothly - £200 cash to be won NOW CLOSED

(101 Posts)
KatieBMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 17-Jun-13 09:34:09

You may have seen a thread on MN recently looking for Mumsnetters to try the new 2in1 recipe mixes from Schwartz. The testers are busy trying out the mixes so do keep a look out for their feedback coming soon!

In the mean time, Schwartz would like to know what your top tips are for avoiding mealtime meltdowns. Here's what they say: "Preparing everyday family favourites just got easier and tastier with the launch of the new 2in1 range from flavour experts Schwartz. The new 2in1 range offers two easy to use recipe mix sachets in one handy pack: one sachet flavours the main dish whilst the other contains seasoning for a complementary side dish or topping. With five different varieties to choose from, and an easy recipe on the back of each pack, this is a great way to try out new dishes or transform an existing family favourite from ordinary to special."

So, how do you get your family eating together at mealtimes? Do you find mealtimes a treat or a chore? What are your top tips for making family meals interesting for your DCs? Do you have any quick and easy family favourites that are sure to be a hit every time?

Everyone who shares their thoughts on this thread will be entered into a prize draw where one winner will win £200 cash!

Thanks and good luck,

MNHQ

jojane Mon 17-Jun-13 10:34:44

We always sit at the table, and no one is allowed to get down until everyone has finished. We have always done it since they were babies and although only 2,4 and 6 now it's just the way it's always been so they don't (often) question it. We use tea time to chat and talk about stuff,

The children especially like it when we have a dinner that's in the middle of the table and they can help themselves. They also like helping me cook Which I find also helps with any fussiness. My son has spent months hating pepper and onions and asking every meal time if it has either in. He then helped me make bolagnaise and we put both in and he ate it all so has now been persuaded that he likes peppers and onions if they are mixed in to a dish.

manfalou Mon 17-Jun-13 10:48:03

Pasta is a firm favourite in our house. Our 2 year old is rather fussy so making meal times fun is key. He likes us all to eat at the same... as in we all have a fork full of food at the same time! Strange but it works for us. Its difficult getting him to try new things but the 'just one bite' trick is starting to work. After enough tries he does seem to be liking more foods. He hated Tuna sandwiches a few months ago... now they're his favourite! Be persistent and patient... I have learn this the hard way but we're getting there.

If we don't have something ready to go in the Crock Pot or made ahead, then DH and I will split jobs. He will usually tackle homework with DSD straight away, while I put something easy together. This could be pasta, enchiladas, chicken on the Foreman, whatever - as long as it takes 40 mins or less to prepare and cook. Dinner is then usually served at the table, with the TV off. Everyone usually eats the same thing. Veggies are a bit easier to serve if they're placed in the middle for everyone to help themselves.

Keeping the TV off during mealtimes is key for us. We learned the hard way that DSD gets distracted if it's on - she just picks at her meal and lets it go cold.

grassroots Mon 17-Jun-13 12:03:10

DS loves to help prepare the food - although that can be a bit annoying when I am busy with hot pans, sharp knives etc! If I can give him a job like shelling peas or buttering the bread for tea, he loves it.

HannahLI Mon 17-Jun-13 15:25:33

One of my biggest problems is getting everyone to the table so I make sure when I go though to cook that the television goes off and my boys come through and help either with the cooking or with other jobs like washing up or setting the table. One of the best ways to get everyone to eat is to get them to help prepare and make as they feel like they have ownership. The one meal that gets everyone happy is tuna pasta bake, so simply but delicious.

Craftsonsea Mon 17-Jun-13 19:43:49

I've found that eating together as a family has made mealtimes way less stressful, if for no other reason than if DS refuses to eat instead of getting moody about the time I've wasted cooking I'm happily sat eating my own. We're also eating stupid amounts of chilli and pasta, after a while the desire for a full nights sleep outweighed my desire for a thai curry...

BellaVida Mon 17-Jun-13 20:04:01

We only manage whole family meals at the weekend, due to work. Our trick is to get them involved in the chopping, stirring etc and letting them nibble on some of the raw ingredients. A raw carrot can do wonders!

Their favourites are pasta bake, lasagne, mild curry with rice and grilled or baked white fish. We do use quite a lot of spices especially mild chilli, paprika and garlic. For a quick meal we do omelettes, but add a few mixed herbs to liven up the flavour, accompanied with a tomato salad. I like the idea of pre packed flavourings for both a main and a side dish.

I would definitely say that it helped to introduce a very wide variety of flavours from when the children were very young. They are willing to try anything now.

iantoscoffeecup Mon 17-Jun-13 20:09:28

We always eat together as a family and at the dinner table. In fact all of our meals are eaten at the table. Even though our little one is only 14months old, she has come to learn very quickly that it is eating time as soon as she is put in her seat. The TV is turned off and we take turns helping little one to eat. Sitting all together, I feel, has helped the little one with weaning and she will eat anything. Not a fussy eater at all. It is nice to see a little one enjoy her food, no matter what is put in front of her. Although her favourite meal would probably consist of, fish fingers, cheesy mash, avocado and an egg of some sort. hmm

ThePskettiIncident Mon 17-Jun-13 20:09:56

I cook dinner in the morning and reheat for dinner time. I find it helps make a good meal, as toddler patience come 4pm is non existent!

I like to use lots of fresh ingredients and have a few go to recipe books for quick meals.

Ds is not too picky, but a terrible fidget, so I have to fight to keep his attention.
Quiche is always a hit and easy to put together with salad at the last minute. Also jacket spuds with various fillings.

DD is 2 and reluctant to try anything new, but she loves helping to cook and is gradually becoming more adventurous and tasting things she has helped to prepare. It's still a bit hit and miss, but definitely involving her in the preparation makes her more likely to taste something new.

Fraxinus Mon 17-Jun-13 20:16:09

Remaining patient while involving dc in the cooking after an exhausting day at work dealing with other people's dc is not my strong point. I am happy to get them to clear and set the table and serve drinks, and carry the plates through to the table. This gets them ready for eating in a way that arriving to a meal already on the tale doesn't.

When I have plenty of time and patience I do involve them in cooking, but this only works when there is no hurry.

DoodleAlley Mon 17-Jun-13 20:35:17

DS is four and I've found he will have a go at most family meals provided it is either;
A) separate items such as salmon, potatoes and veg; or
B) very much mixed together such as bolognaise.

The middle ground is tricky ground we try to avoid ESP if he is under the weather or tired!

I try to have one meal a week that challenges him a bit and we have a try everything on your plate but you don't have to finish it rule.

My aim is to not allow anarchy at the table and excessive pickiness but to allow mealtimes to be enjoyable and encourage him to try new things which he often discovers he likes!

Cherryoats Mon 17-Jun-13 21:28:29

We are now tending to wait until dh is home from work to eat, so we can all eat together. I wouldn't say its a chore, its normally the first chance dh gets to sit down all day, so he quite enjoys it. We only make one meal, and if dd doesn't like it she can eat fruit or something else after she has given it a go. I try and make 1 main dish or bake something new every week, so we try and make things more interesting that way, and we have had a few nice surprises doing this, eg. Fussy eater dd decided she liked salmon!
Sausages, potato and veg is always a winner here, aswell as anything with pasta.

jellyandcake Mon 17-Jun-13 21:35:21

Family meantime are definitely a treat rather than a chore. For 2.5yr old ds the key is always to serve something he likes along with anything new. He is a big fan of the outdoors so a lot of meals take place as picnics in the garden - he finds this very exciting and it's a good way of getting him enthusiastic about eating!

BlackeyedSusan Mon 17-Jun-13 22:48:15

I have several recipes. many of which use chicken or pork, as they are cheap at the moment.

there are roast dinners with lots of veggies
chicken or pork stirfry with lots of veggies, bean sprouts, wholewheat noodles (egg allergy!)
chicken soup which is made from the gravy (homemde from the juices and vegetable water) carrots, onions, pearl barley.
chicken in white sauce (homemade, sorry schwartz!)) with sweetcorn, red onions, mushrooms courgette and wholemeal pasta
pork and apple (onion, carrot brown rice)
beef/pork or chicken (cheap cuts) and beans ( various from butter/redkidney, blackeye, mung, borlotti depending what was on offer in what store when!) I also do this with lentils and mungbeans instead of meat.
chilli con carne, (lots of veggies, little meat)
spagetti bolognase (ditto)
aubergine, mushroom, onion and lamb-taken from a recipe book.
trout or salmon, white sauce, sweetcorn, peas, wholemeal pasta. usually when there is an offer on in tesco/reduced.
tuna, tinned tomatoes, peas, sweetcorn, brown rice is my quick and easy stand by
baked(microwave) potatoes and whatever is to hand
if i can be bothered, i will sometimes make wholemeal pasta salad sprinkled with seeds. I am mean. they are not keen on the seeds but it is next to impossible to pick every sesame, or linseed off pasta and cucumber... etc. grin

to avoid meltdowns... proper autism ones... they only get wwhat they like, so dd may have a few sultanas dried apricots added to her dinners, but never raw caarrot. ds would not. the melt down is not worth it. his diet is varied enough. especially now he does not have ham and cheese sandwiches everyday

there are only the 3 of us so I cook what I feel like doing/eating (or defrosting one of the batch cooked dinners)

monday night is trreat night. beans on (wholemeal) toast the children love it, I do not have to cook. win-win grin

at my elderly mums we have chips, peas, sweetcorn fishfingers. shopped for by me and stored in her freezer. it is quick, easy, dd helps get it set up and everyone will eat it.

the rule is that they do not have to eat anything they do not like.
we aim to sit at the table, but ds will occasionally stand, eat on the sofa, sit in the toy box, sit on the floor. i save the battles for what really matters: going to school, suncream, road safety, no violence and name calling among them.

flavourings are garlic, herbs, ginger, mild chilli powder, balsamic vinegar, cheap wine, low salt stock cubes or homemade gravy with no salt added.

I occasionally treat myself to a microwavable/easy heat lunch when the children are at school. I prefer the healthier options (mainly green on the traffic light system) schwarrtz... that is where you come in. grin I like chinese take away occasionlly, but they are a bit expensive... and easyish dinner for me once the children are in bed would be an occasional treat too. (also saves juggling small boys and a chinese takeaway up the stairs to the flat. )

we have had a healthy eating phase after my dad died of stroke. we were looking at the brainscan of a massive bleed and the dr said it could occasionally be caused where plaques of cholesterol have accumulated in the blood vessels... I instantly went off anything fatty, and felt physically sick at the thought of chipshop chips/takeways for quite a while.

i also count myself lucky that I have children that are not really that picky. maybe it was a wide range of tastes when weaning, mainly homemade. but ds did not get as wide a range, or specially cooked for him meals... being the second like. there may have been a few more jars too! i also wonder whether being relaxed about what they like/ don't like has helped. unfortunately, a sample of two is not statistically significant, and a third child may have only eaten marmalade sandwiches!

oh and food from mummy's plate was far superior and worth pinching, even if it was the stuff they had previously turned their noses up at nd had been scraped to my plate in secret in the kitchen. hmm

PostBellumBugsy Tue 18-Jun-13 11:44:06

So, how do you get your family eating together at mealtimes?

That's easy - we just all sit down at the same table and eat the same meal!

Do you find mealtimes a treat or a chore?

I find weekday mealtimes a bit of a chore, as I'm tired after work, so it tends to just be the same old food that I cook, which is quick & easy.

What are your top tips for making family meals interesting for your DCs?

I don't feel under pressure to make meals "interesting". I'm more concerned with ensuring that the DCs get a balanced meal. We have a fairly wide and varied diet & they are usually game on for trying something new.

Do you have any quick and easy family favourites that are sure to be a hit every time?

Yes:
chilli con carne & rice
risotto
baked potato with cheese & beans
chicken dippers with curly fries
boiled egg & toast with carrot batons & humous
Sunday roast
sausage & mash
Cottage or shepherds pie
Fish fingers
In the winter a selection of slow cooked stews
Pizza

All of the above (apart from boiled egg) seved with veg or salad.

claireg1986 Tue 18-Jun-13 11:51:11

Just had an email confirming I'll be one of the Mumsnetters trying this out. Can't wait. As a busy Mum I'm always looking for tasty and simple recipes for my family.

BornToFolk Tue 18-Jun-13 11:52:07

So, how do you get your family eating together at mealtimes?

I cook dinner, put it on the table and DS and I sit down and eat it. grin

Do you find mealtimes a treat or a chore?
The actual cooking I often find a chore but mealtimes are usually enjoyable parts of the day when DS and I can chat.

What are your top tips for making family meals interesting for your DCs?
DS is not a fussy eater. There are one or two things that he will not eat and he's not keen on anything that's too highly spiced but apart from that, anything goes. He does get bored if he has the same meals too often though so I try and keep things varied. So in a typical week, there'll be one of his favourite meals (like macaroni cheese!), a few bog standard ordinary meals (spag bol, stir fry etc) and then one or two meals where I try out new ingredients or something a bit more adventurous. DS likes to try new things but I always serve something that I know he'll definitely eat as I find this takes the stress out of it!

Do you have any quick and easy family favourites that are sure to be a hit every time?

Filled pasta with homemade tomato sauce. I make the tomato sauce in big batches and freeze so it's a really quick and reasonably healthy dinner.

DS loves fajitas at the moment, especially as he can put them together himself!

I've also been doing a few "raid the fridge and chuck stuff on the table" meals that go down quite well in the warmer weather. Some nice bread, bits of cheese, houmous, salad etc. This can also be a good way of getting DS to try new things, by just putting a little on his plate alongside tried and tested favourites.

Glitterfairys Tue 18-Jun-13 11:52:49

I find to keep meal times running smoothly we keep it simple . Before I do the shopping on a Saturday we all discuss what we would like the following week .Everybody will have the same meal and we try and eat at the table at the same time . We talk about what we have done at work/school/home and I have found that even my fussy 3 year old eats well. I get my eldest to lay the table and my 3yr old ds gets the sauces out! They feel like they are involved and they are helping me. It works for us grin

I only have a one year old so my tactic is never let him get to hungry or he gets beside himself and won't eat. It's daft but true. So I keep him well topped up with snacks and do an early dinner because otherwise we get a grumpy hungry toddler abd that's no fun for anyone

CMOTDibbler Tue 18-Jun-13 12:01:44

I think thats what has helped us is that ds has always eaten the samw things as us, as we did blw meaning that from 6 months he would just have a bit of whatever was on our plates. He just never went through a picky stage, and much as he loves pasta and cheese given that as a choice, he'll give anything a try if dh or I are eating it too.

I'm probably pickier than ds to be honest, but I'm coeliac and a not terribly enthusiastic meat eater (was veggie till I had to go gf).

I cook dinner in the morning so it's done and ready. That way if DH is late coming home from work, I can eat with the little ones. All meals take place round the table. The 2 year old can be stroppy but I can bribe her with the promise of a nice yogurt or a little bit of TV afterwards to sit with us and eat. When it goes well. The evening meal can be my favourite time of the day when we enjoy each others company and eat well. But it can all too often go horribly wrong....

dahville Tue 18-Jun-13 12:26:14

My little one eats much earlier than my husband and myself but we want him to be used to the social experience of eating together; what we do is both sit down with him at supper and have a little something to eat and drink with him. As he gets older and stays up later we will all eat as a family but for the time being it is important to us that we make this time all together.

flamingtoaster Tue 18-Jun-13 12:59:49

So, how do you get your family eating together at mealtimes?
We have always done this - children were drawn up to the table in their highchairs before they were big enough to have an ordinary chair or eat what we were eating. It's the established pattern!

Do you find mealtimes a treat or a chore?
I love us all sitting down and chatting - it's a great chance to catch up on things.

What are your top tips for making family meals interesting for your DCs.
It depends on the age of the children - when they were tiny we used to tell jokes, or discuss a favourite programme of theirs, etc.

Do you have any quick and easy family favourites that are sure to be a hit every time?

Pasta with any kind of sauce is always a favourite. Also I bake white fish in a tomato, garlic and basil sauce which always goes down well.

emily80 Tue 18-Jun-13 13:15:05

We always try to sit and eat together at the table. When my eldest son (now 4) was young we were quite relaxed about letting him eat in the lounge/infront of the tv, as it seemed easier and he'd eat better. But since my second son (18 months) was born we've been really strict about everyone eating together at the table and now they just accept that's the way it is and never even think of eating elsewhere. They do love to eat at the table in the garden in summer though, so we eat outside as much as possible (it's also a lot easier for mess!)

Meals are a treat, anytime of day, though the cooking of them can sometimes become a chore, particularly when toddler is having what is termed here as a meltdown.

I love cooking, and try at least three new recipes a week, though I always plan to try five.my top tip, though rather at odds with others, is save TV time for cooking. In the 30mins it takes to prepare a meal I let mine watch TV- they are then wound down a bit, and ready to sit at the table to eat. Though I can see that letting them help would be a good idea and may adopt that when they are older.

I also feed them 'supper' at four, as the eldest is just back from school, the toddler is starting to lose it a bit, and food helps them. it might be beans, soup, toast and peanut butter, a small bowl of porridge, corn on.the cob- something to help lift their mood, and ensure that they will last till meal at 6.30. It also means that should they reject the meal, I don't mind-they've eaten something at least, so the pressure is off.

We try to sit at the table with dh, but sometimes this isn't possible, when it it happens meals are always more enjoyable.

ratbagcatbag Tue 18-Jun-13 13:33:28

Our mealtimes are a bit chaotic at the moment with having a three month old baby, who is invariably awake when we want to eat. Generally though, me, DH and DSS all sit at the table and eat together, I do try and turn the tv off though, however it doesn't always work.

Thanks to mn I've started meal planning a lot better, so after a day with LO, I love it when DH arrives home and takes over for an hour so I can get dinner done in peace. smile

I do try and make meals more interestingly but I'm not a fab cook, I love the packets with spices in one side and the bag the other, they make tea (such as garlic or paprika chicken) come out fab and they're effortless to cook, easy on the washing up too.

Quick and easy family favourites

Chicken curry with naan breads
Meatballs and pasta
Chicken fajitas where everyone grabs their own

MegBusset Tue 18-Jun-13 13:40:07

I find the best way to make family mealtimes a treat is to let someone else cook grin We eat out regularly with the DC and find it really enjoyable, especially as everyone can order what they want!

At home we don't eat together that often (Dh gets home from work late; I can't manage a main meal before about 7pm; plus DH and I are veggie and DS1 is allergic to eggs and pulses so there's a limited amount of stuff we can all have!). But when we do (eg when we have BBQs at weekends) I find the best thing is to put the food in the middle and let everyone help themselves. DS1 is fussy as well as allergic so won't eat that much but I have long since stopped caring tbh.

WowOoo Tue 18-Jun-13 14:00:48

We sit together and always have done.

Children like to help by getting the table ready: Clearing art stuff, placemats and cutlery and drinks ready.
Things can get interesting by asking them to guess the mystery ingredient or to suggest other things we can put in next time.

The children will sometimes help prepare stuff on the weekend when we have more time. On a work day I'm usually cooking pre prepped meals.

Children's favourites are things like spag bol, shepherds pie and mousakka. Quite heavy and filling foods. They also eat a lot of pasta.

I find that giving my kids some say in what we cook and encourages enthusiasm and eating together. We don't manage every day but perhaps 5 nights a week. My kids are old enough to be involved (17, 15 and 11) in menu planning and I try to let each of them choose one dish each week that we should cook. I love cooking so that part is never a chore.

My eldest son is especially interested in cooking and has started to try out recipes and is gaining the confidence to cook not only for himself but for the rest of the family.

I try to shop with one of the older kids each week (helps with the packing!) as I think it gives them a good idea of costs, of what to look for eg bargains, long use by dates, good quality produce. Again, I think that if they feel more involved in the whole process of shopping and cooking, they are more likely to be interested in sitting together to eat.

Another thing which sometimes helps is their having friends over for dinner. Sort of adds a new dynamic/interest to proceedings!!

HugellaSlime Tue 18-Jun-13 14:40:09

Get something out the freezer the night before. Who ever gets in first Cooks, who doesn't cook washes up. I like Quinoa too.

OodPi Tue 18-Jun-13 14:46:37

If you are breastfeeding feed the baby first other wise they ask all the way through(current problem)
Use a high chair at the table during meal times as soon as possible (toys when too little for food)

I find preparing week day meals a bit of a chore to be honest but the eating an absolute treat with moments of laughter, news and blessed silence which doesn't often happen with four boys! Oh and the obligatory telling them to be eat with their mouth closed and talk with their mouth empty 'opportunities for learning'

I find the big challenge is getting everything ready for the moment of serving. What helps is to be organised - lay table, do drinks before the last 10 minutes. Target a time for serving. Giving the kids a five minute warning.

What doesn't help is a tricky homework problem, a funny thread on MN or forgetting a key bit of dinner. Or, thinking about it, having a husband with a broken foot.

Weekends cooking is a treat .... glass of gin in hand, no pressure to feed a hungry army of boys at a certain time and the opportunity to bake or try something new.

melliebobs Tue 18-Jun-13 14:53:53

Like a lot of mums I make sure the too drawer of my freezer is full of home made 'ready meals' for cba or busy days. So whenever I cook in the slow cooker I make sure I have 4 individual portions left over.

I plan a lot. When I go to do the weekly shop each tea time for the following week is planned in advance and stuck too.

The rest is luck of the draw on me getting home n making it as soon as I get in while entertaining a 15 month dd and hoping the dog will wait for his walk till we've eaten

We eat as a family (me, dh and dd) we all eat the same and I don't pander to dd. if we have something spicy I take some out for her before I put chillis in etc. if she doesn't eat it fine she can have yoghurt or fruit later grin

skyeskyeskye Tue 18-Jun-13 14:55:12

It's just me and DD here and we don't often eat together, although we should. Every night I think I will cook something proper for both of us, but don't sad But tonight, I am going to cook some potatoes and chicken, inspired by this thread and some sauces I have in the cupboard.

When we eat with friends or family, DD is encouraged to try everything, but not forced to eat it. She sits at the table until everybody else is finished though.

pasta bake or roast potatoes, chicken and peas are favorites

tanfastic Tue 18-Jun-13 17:09:30

I use the slow cooker to prepare a meal when I can. We all sit at the table. A variety of condiments are always at hand for ds. Ketchup on a roast anyone? grin

nextphase Tue 18-Jun-13 17:14:14

Food is supposed to be fun - so the kids help me out, and we do it all together. If they want to try something, they do (inc things I think yuck to - margarine on its own, fine).
And we all eat together as often as poss.
Sometimes people aren't hungry - don't stress if its a one off.

Keep something quick available for when it all goes wrong - for us mince in the freezer, and pasta.

But then I've not had fussy eaters, and I'm sure when you truely have a food adverse child, its hard to follow the "just put it down and make it fun" advice.

We have dinner at the same time every night. A trait passed down from my parents so it seemed natural!

Also kids aren't allowed to get down until they're finished and they have to at least attempt a new 'yucky' food hmm

Quick and easy meals I like- pasta bake, jacket pots with different fillings, eggs and soldiers (big hit with the toddler!) and spag bol is a big fav all round.

GetKnitted Tue 18-Jun-13 20:49:05

with working full time, having my rice cooker on a timer is an absolute God send!! Between this and freezing meals, is the only way we can cook ourselves nutritious food every day.

zipzap Tue 18-Jun-13 22:34:58

Both ds have completely different attitude to trying new food and what works for one doesn't for the other, so I try to encourage both of them in their own way...

DS1 (8) is incredibly fussy and picky about what he eats - if he had his own way he would live off olives and pasta pesto and be done with it. He is getting better and is now open to bribery - I keep a list on my phone of the things he has tried and his verdict, and when he reaches 5 then he gets a pound. Seems to work out about a pound a month but goes in fits and starts. And it has to be a proper try, not a few molecules that come into momentary contact with his tongue!

DS2 (5) is really good at eating most things and likes to try new things. Seeing things on tv (not just adverts but when they are in tv programmes) helps. If we are in the shops he'll suddenly say that he thinks he really likes xyz and wants to try it so I'll usually buy some to capitalise on it, especially if it's something I like and so can eat up anyway! Most recently he's wanted sweetcorn (made a good attempt) and parsley - to make his 'superhero' sandwich (grated cheese, parsley and grated dark chocolate with a square of dark chocolate in there as a lucky superhero surprise booster grin - his own recipe). He ate it all - everybody else shuddered - and has had it several times since. hmm

Favourite meals are often a table full of bits and bobs for everyone to help themselves... lots of crudite, hummus, meatballs or little sausages, chunks of cheese or grated cheese, tortilla/fritatta, naice ham, german sausage sliced, dips, maybe a few pringles or mini poppadoms to dip along with the crudite as a treat, nice bread, garlic bread. I try to do things with lots of different colours and then say that they need to eat 5 different colours for example. There's enough stuff that they can avoid any of the bits they aren't that keen on and still have a good variety of food.

stealthsquiggle Tue 18-Jun-13 23:52:25

We used to eat together almost every night (unless DH or I were away) but complicated days now mean that if we wait for DS to be home then DD is too late to bed, so at least a fee nights a week DD eats early, DS has a snack when he gets in, and DH and I eat once they are in bed.

However, we do all eat together at weekends and any evening we can. We are all foodies, although DD is a bit picky and very easily distracted. The DC love to help cook and serve, especially if we have guests, and they will always lay and clear the table.

We eat together every night, tv off and in the dining room at the table (otherwise I end up wearing my meal) it's the time of the day when we talk about what the dd's have done at school, what we have planned for the weekends etc. Dp does the majority of the cooking as he enjoys it whereas I see it as a chore. There is one meal choice and you like it or lump it, funnily enough no one refuses it grin

Cies Wed 19-Jun-13 11:01:20

The best way to get ds to eat veg is for him to pick it from the garden. He prefers plain flavours so I generally just let him dress it with olive oil.

Generally at mealtimes we're all more relaxed if everything is on the table, so no jumping up to fetch napkins, spoons etc.

Indith Wed 19-Jun-13 12:24:23

how do you get your family eating together at mealtimes?

Cook, Serve, Eat. Of course there are days that not everyone eats together because of activities, work etc but dinner time is within the same hour or so every night and the people who are late just reheat theirs when they get in. One meal. We all eat it. I don't and never have pandered to fussy eaters and that seems to have worked so far. Dc3 is only 15 months though so there is time for that to come back and bite me on the arse!

Having said I don't pander though I do allow for genuine dislikes. ds1 is now 6 and has never, ever, even as a baby, liked potatoes, especially mash so we do work around it. I might make him couscous if we are having mash (as it is quick and no trouble to make) or if we have roast dinner with mash then he'll get an extra yorkshire pudding. He always, always tries a bit though. That is the rule,we all have to try which includes me eating a mushroom or 2! We either chop things like mushrooms up in sauces so we all eat them or leave them whole so the lovers can guzzle them and the haters can leave them. We never make separate meals.

Do you find mealtimes a treat or a chore?

They can be a chore, I'd be lying if I said otherwise. If we are really busy, working late, picking up, dropping off, flying around then of course they are a chore and we have to plan for that and make life easier by using slow cooker. But at weekends or quieter nights it can be lovely. It is nice to come round the table together and talk and it is a joy to see the children tucking in and enjoying their meal. Eating together is how they learn to try new things, to use knives and forks and table manners so it is important.

What are your top tips for making family meals interesting for your DCs?

Get them involved. They make suggestions for the menu plan, they come food shopping and choose the fruit and veg. They come to the farm shop and discuss what variety of sausage there is and see if there are any spare fish knocking around from the fisheries to bully dh into buying or ask the farmer if he has any ox tails. They have opinions and we encourage them to share them.

Do you have any quick and easy family favourites that are sure to be a hit every time?

Spag bol is never turned down and is nice and easy to stick the sauce in the slow cooker. Anything like that really, stews etc or with leftovers from a roast chicken we love chicken pasta soup. Stock made from teh carcass, left over meat tossed in. Brothy soup with onion, carrot,lentils, pearl barley and whatever else you have knocking around. stick a couple of handfuls of pasta in towards teh end and there you have it. Another perfect one to leave simmering all evening when people are ina nd out at different times.

CheeryCherry Wed 19-Jun-13 13:13:35

We generally eat in the dining room, where we share news from the day, and plan the following day/week. On occasion we have a tv pizza, for example X factor final etc. When we can, we'll eat outside.
I usually make one meal for all, and don't find it a chore. I usually plan meals for the week, making them in advance when I can.
When they were little, we used to take it in turns to answer silly questions like 'what made you laugh today?', 'what was your favourite lesson' etc.
Quick and favourite meals in our house are chilli&rice, stew&dumplings, stir fry&noodles.

MikeLitoris Wed 19-Jun-13 13:30:40

We always eat at the table together, even if eating outside.

We try to let the dc help deciding what we will be eating. That seems to go down well.

The older ones help with prepping meals and clearing up wtc. I think it really helps when they feel involved. Not just having any old meal plonked down in front of them.

Also I have learnt after 2 dc to just relax. Sometimes they just really are not hungry. They wont starve if they dont finish a full meal sometimes.

takeaway2 Wed 19-Jun-13 13:35:56

getting them involved is the key. from cooking, to getting the plates on the table to even tidying up. It gets them to the table. Sometimes, we also have the laptop on and they can watch some Cbeebies which helps (sometimes!)...

Having prepared food that you can heat up easily is always helpful. So it's either something that we've already made (bolognese) that we can heat up or defrost, or a pizza or something that's been bunged in the slow cooker the whole day. Alternatively, something quick to cook like fish, or stirfry is great.

lborolass Wed 19-Jun-13 13:36:34

Obviously it depends how old your children are and whether you're at work during the day.

I meal plan to the last detail and the complexity of the cooking varies with whether it's a work day. My children can help if they want but only the youngest normally does. I have no problem with getting them to the table as they are always starving after school. I don't really understand the question about making mealtimes interesting, eating is a necessity of life in my house doesn't need to be made into anything iyswim, food goes out and children appear grin.

I have never served the food onto plates, even the youngest child is able to make stab at helping themsleves but I gather from visiting children that this is rare. I always have to tell them to get stuck in or there won't be anything left and my own DC would think it was odd to have someone else choose what/how much they wanted to eat.

By luckoif the draw my DC, whilst of course they don't like everything, have never been fussy eaters and I've never used any strategies for eating. All my meals have options so that there's always something that everyone likes.

lirael Wed 19-Jun-13 14:16:30

I have two sons, one of 12, who eats everything and loves cooking and trying new foods and another of 10, who is severely autistic,has a more limited diet as well as a number of food intolerances, but still enjoys his food. Both DH and I love cooking and so mealtimes aren't a problem for us. We always sit up at the table and eat together for dinner during the week and all meals at weekends.

I meal plan a month at a time, mostly for budget reasons but also so I can make sure DS2 has enough variety in his diet, as he generally has to have something different from the rest of us. I batch cook and freeze his food (shepherds pie, fish cakes, lamb and beef burgers with hidden veg, rice patties and veg/potato cakes) so that I don't have to cook two different meals from scratch. If given the choice DS2 would exist on chicken nuggets, sausages, fish fingers and chips, so we are trying to widen his food choices gradually. At the moment we're working on him eating separate veg (ie not veg that's mixed into something else) by giving him a teaspoon of mixed veg with his meal and then giving him a piece of flatbread (his favourite) every time he eats a piece of veg. I don't make a big deal of him eating or not eating it, but if he does, he gets a piece of the bread. Not sure whether I would do this with a child who wasn't autistic, but it seems to work for DS2, who has gone from gagging every time a piece of carrot touched his lips to eating a few pieces happily. Still have a way to go with peas though!

Quick and easy family favourites - noodle dishes with left over meat from Sunday roast and stock made from carcass; fish pasta with tinned mackerel, green veg and horseradish; Jamie Olivers quick veg curry; devilled chicken thighs with rice.

DS1 loves cooking and is keen to cook a meal a week for the family, which we're starting this week. Am trying to encourage him to be as keen about the clearing up... We also play the Masterchef palate taste game sometimes - 'how many ingredients of this meal can you identify by taste, smell etc'.

my sachets arrived just now smile just need my family to get better now.

melika Wed 19-Jun-13 16:58:24

Everyone but one son who is never in, sits at the table.

Unfortunately my DH reads the paper while he eats and the tv is on!

We do manage some conversation about the day. I like your chilli mix and always pick your range if I'm being lazy! I wouldn't mind a chicken pasta mix if you are thinking of creating a sauce mix.

Shiraztastic Wed 19-Jun-13 17:13:41

Mealtimes often feel like a chore to be endured! I try to ensure that there is at least one thing on the table each person will like.

Try not to stress too much about finer manners or food on the floor.

firawla Wed 19-Jun-13 17:35:55

we don't always eat together as much as i would like. dh works very late, so he is never around. i do eat with the kids myself some days, but sometimes not sit down and have a full meal with them as I am waiting for dh. I would love to eat as a family more.

i find preparing some of the meals in advance is good cos sometimes as dinner time approaches my little one is getting so clingy and tired, so hard to spend a lot of time cooking at that point, also they see me cooking and get impatient for the food so i try to cook quick/easy things

AllSWornOut Wed 19-Jun-13 19:42:01

We always sit at the table all together with no other distractions. DC is only 2 but he helps set the table which helps to highlight that it's dinner time so time to stop playing.

He's always had whatever we're eating but we try not to make it into a battle if he doesn't like something. We've started making him have at least one bite of everything on his plate but don't force him to eat everything up if he doesn't like or want it. I do try to make sure there's at least one thing being served that I know he'll like.

And we include him in the conversation while we're eating. I'm sure his good nature helps but so far the above works for us for getting meal times running smoothly.

givemeaboost Wed 19-Jun-13 19:58:08

Most of the time it is very difficult to get everyone eating at the same time, my oldest dc eats at a astonishing rate and has normally finished before other members of the family have barely picked up their knife and fork, I usually allow him to get down from the table unless its a special meal/eating out....a case of pick your battles an all that. the only time we really get to eat together is on a weekend as the dcs have cooked school meals in the week to make my life a bit easier in the evenings.

Im not much of a cook but after becoming a single parent Ive had to cook a lot more, I enjoy it more than I used to but I do find cooking a little tedius as I don't have the money to experiement or buy expensive or exotic ingredients.

I always have a jug of juice at family mealtimes and often some kind of finger food on the side such as garlic bread. my youngest dc provides a lot of entertainment!

The meals that are always a hit in this house are corned beef hash(mash) and beans or sausage pasta bake.

Reastie Wed 19-Jun-13 20:30:30

I've got this face plate for DD and jazz up each meal onto the plate. Really helps get DD to try different foods (but doesn't always work to get her to eat her veg!).

Sometimes I prechop veg earlier in the day when I don't have time later and Im increasingly using frozen veg in dishes to save on chopping time (eg chopped onion or casserole mix). I sometimes use a slow cooker and try to do big batches of meals so there's something which will last 3 days. A basic bolognese is a lifesaver as it will work one day with spaghetti and homemade garlic bread, another day with chilli powder and rice as chilli con carne and another with mashed potato as a shephards pie.

fie181 Wed 19-Jun-13 22:47:35

Just received the packs today...thank you. I have tried the crispy chicken with BBQ sauce for husband and I. The verdict .....delicious. The BBQ sauce tasted very authentic though I didn't think you got enough for the dish. The crispy coating was....crispy. I cooked it on Grease proof paper, most of them were crispy.
Would I buy this again...only if on offer but thanks for sending me the sachets. Which one will I choose next???

magentastardust Wed 19-Jun-13 23:17:04

We always eat together at meal times , it is a good way for DH to be able to catch up with the children when he comes in from work.

Things like cottage pie, home made veggie burgers , bolognaise and tacos where the kids can get involved in making their own are popular here with my 3.
Trying to find something that all 5 of us like and will eat can sometimes be interesting , and I like to come on to forums and recipe websites every so often to look for new ideas as find I can get stuck in a rut with what to cook for tea from week to week.

TheFlipsideOfTheCoin Thu 20-Jun-13 00:25:58

1) Everyone sits at the table to eat as a family!

2) I'm a vegetarian whereas the rest of the family are meat eaters, however we make it work so that we only cook one dish. For example, if we're having pasta we will make a big batch of veggie sauce and I will then remove my portion before adding the meat for everyone else. Saves complicating the meals.

MumnGran Thu 20-Jun-13 09:54:49

We always sat down together, and had a tradition that everyone had to say something about the best and worst things in their day!! it sometimes had us chatting at the table for hours with the washing up undone, when they got into their teens!

Both my DD's have carried this forward, and when the whole family gets together, the chat take ages smile

Huge believer in engaging the kids in the cooking process though, as they are then much more interested in eating the results. Even a little one can help shake things up in a bag with Schwartz coatings!!

snoworneahva Thu 20-Jun-13 15:05:17

We eat together every evening, always have done, sometimes dh is late and the he eats alone - get dcs into the habit of eating together as something that is normal - now for special occasions. I Menu plan and shop for the week, I include some quick and easy meals that I know everyone will eat for a standby on those nights where I'm exhausted and cranky never mind the kids, I also include something new every week, the same old meals can get boring very quickly and the kids learn that having new food is something that is normal too!

Littlecherublegs Thu 20-Jun-13 15:29:03

We always sit down as a family all together at the same time every day for dinner - we've done this since DS was old enough to sit in a highchair at the table.

Mealtimes is a great time to catch up on what's been happening throughout the day / what we have planned later in the week etc.

The only 'chore' bit is cleaning up after DS (yes it can get messy!).

Current fav's our chicken casserole or pasta!

janekirk Thu 20-Jun-13 15:33:06

No treats at least an hour before meal times, and stick to it.

majjsu Thu 20-Jun-13 15:33:06

We always sit at a table together at tea time. My LO is nearly 3 and she loves helping prepare the teas and at the table, we talk about our day and what ingredients we like best. Her favourites are omelettes, tortillas, Sunday roast and Chinese vegetables.

Scrambledchocpancake Thu 20-Jun-13 15:51:47

We always sit down together at meal times. My husband is away working all most all the time so I cook and eat with my 2 + 4 year old. It encourages them to eat their food if I am eating the same with them. I love these times. As DD is due to start school in September we shall be eating our dinner later in the day when she gets home but I love the way we can all talk to each other over the meal.
Their favourite food is pasta with tomato sauce and carrots. I know that they will eat all this up in no time so use it when we are in hurry! Also a shepherds pie goes down well.

weenwee Thu 20-Jun-13 16:01:40

So, how do you get your family eating together at mealtimes?

I yell WE ARE EATING NOW, and they eat. ;)

Do you find mealtimes a treat or a chore?

Sometimes a treat, sometimes a chore. It all depends on who had a good or bad day that day.

What are your top tips for making family meals interesting for your DCs? Involve them in the cooking. Mine is too little yet to stand at the stove, but my hubs will hold him, and they watch me make dinner (and when hubs is making dinner, I hold the kid). He understands food doesn't just appear, there is a process to getting food on his tray, and hopefully that translates later into an understanding of how lucky we are to have what we eat!

Do you have any quick and easy family favourites that are sure to be a hit every time?

Spaghetti and meatballs. Winner across the board. (Sneaky trick: if you have a kid who can't yet eat chunks, or doesn't like veg, instead of forcing/cajoling/bribing, simply puree them, then mix in your red sauce. You'll have a thick hearty sauce, and the kid will never know. My fave veg to puree in are carrots and peas - gorgeous sweet flavour!)

Babycarmen Thu 20-Jun-13 16:19:31

We get the kids involved in laying the table and clearing up afterwards too. Its nice to all sit together and discuss our days and school and also things we have to look forward to like days out. It helps bring us closer together as a family. I love mealtimes!
Family favourites are lasagne - always clean plates, or chicken korma and rice or chips, even my youngest who is 16m clears her bowl!

JulesJules Thu 20-Jun-13 16:22:57

So, how do you get your family eating together at mealtimes?

We all eat together, unless DH is working late. In that case I will give the DDs something earlier and me and DH will have something different later. We have always eaten together.

Do you find mealtimes a treat or a chore?

Depends! If I'm stuck for what to cook, or the DDs both want something different it's a bit of a pain. I'm the only vegetarian, so I'm usually cooking more than one thing anyway.

What are your top tips for making family meals interesting for your DCs?

When they were little I used to make faces on the plate, or do a scene - eg mashed potato hill with broccoli trees.

Do you have any quick and easy family favourites that are sure to be a hit every time?

Spag Bol - I cook a vat of bol at a time and so I've always got some in the freezer.
Beef in red wine - again, I cook a big batch of this in the slow cooker and keep it in the freezer. (These two things are quick and easy to heat up, but obviously take a long time to cook originally.)
Carrot Soup - takes less than half an hour, everyone loves it and it varies a bit according to what veg needs using up, what herbs and spices I put in etc.
Spanokopita - (Greek spinach and cheese pie with filo pastry) Bizarrely the dds love this, it's very quick to make, also delicious cold.
Omelettes/ fritattas
Kedgeree
Egg fried rice

rosie17 Thu 20-Jun-13 17:18:45

Eat outside where possible. Everyone seems to enjoy the novelty of eating in the garden when the weather allows. The kids actually enjoy setting the table and if it's a really hot day they love to hose down the sticky table afterwards. Fire up the Barbie - keep the horrid cooking smells outside.

Everyone in our house loves a slow cooked lamb tagine. Cubes of lamb, chick peas, tinned toms, green beans and a few spoons of harrissa paste. Then let is stew on a low heat - one pot heaven and very healthy too.

Also our children love to cook - get them involved and they are far more likely to eat it.

helcrai Thu 20-Jun-13 17:39:20

Get the family to all eat together by having a routine- children help to set table and we wait til Dad home for tea too. If its something straightforwards I'm making, will encourage them to help prepare the meal.

I like mealtimes- get to know what's gone on at school and how they're feeling. Was more difficult when they were toddlers but now they are older are less fussy about what they eat and will sit (relatively!) still.

As above, to make them interested I try and get them to help prepare the food. Have found they are more likely to sit and eat well if they are proud of having made it themselves. They also have the incentive/bribe that if they eat they can watch TV after.

Family favourites are anything to do with pasta- spag bol; tuna and sweetcorn pasta bake, or anything with rice- (very mild) chilli con carne; salmon and rice salad. They also like meals they can get messy with legitimately like fajitas and tacos. Bizarrley neither of my kids will eat anything with chips- unheard of!

serendipity1980 Thu 20-Jun-13 19:22:20

It can be hard getting them to eat dinner but I always make a home cooked meal and they will sometimes help make it. I sometimes (quite often!) get 'I don't like that' before they even try it. There are no other options though so they eat it or go hungry! They do love fish pie - that always is a favourite.

newfashionedmum Thu 20-Jun-13 21:31:31

we have home cooked dinner every night because I'm a control freak who wants us to all eat healthily grin somewhat bizarrely, a favourite in our house is liver and bacon with carrots and onions!!

Hopezibah Thu 20-Jun-13 21:55:31

So, how do you get your family eating together at mealtimes?

We have made it a priority right from when the children were weaning - we would still all eat at the same time. So it is just normal for us to do that. As soon as daddy is home from work we try to eat.

We always sit at the table so that way we are all together.

Do you find mealtimes a treat or a chore?

If I feel inspired to cook something and have all the ingredients ready then it is a treat - otherwise it can feel a chore sometimes.

What are your top tips for making family meals interesting for your DCs?
get them used to eating all different foods and flavours from an early age. Occasionally make a fun meal eg bento style where it looks really appealing. Get them involved in cooking too. My little boy has been helping with cooking since he was 3! (not just baking cakes but properly helping with mealtimes)

Do you have any quick and easy family favourites that are sure to be a hit every time?

if I keep some chicken in the freezer then that can be defrosted and used for lots of things eg curries, chasseur, stuffed chicken breasts, chicken salad etc.

carabossse Thu 20-Jun-13 22:07:53

Eating together at the table from a young age created good habits. There's a clear expectation that mealtimes are together at the table so that's never questioned. My pre-schooler is involved with cooking and setting the table. I give targeted options e.g. what colour of plate /bowl/ cup etc which gives some control to the child while meeting my goals. We talk about how he helped me cook the meal which makes it more interesting, even irresistible. The evening meal involves a recap of the day which works well as young children like to talk about themselves.

daisybrown Thu 20-Jun-13 22:39:35

The TV goes off.
If there's something the kids are watching then I set the recorder.
More than two warnings for bad behaviour at the table and the TV doesn't come on again that day.
We plan (try anyway) to plan the weeks menu at the weekend by agreement by everyone.

OpalFruitshoot Thu 20-Jun-13 23:07:04

So, how do you get your family eating together at mealtimes?
Put dinner on the table! We are flexible with eating times, and the toddler can happily wait for his father to come home from work.

Do you find mealtimes a treat or a chore?
Treat! Toddler DS helps me make dinner, I love this together time, and he loves helping.

What are your top tips for making family meals interesting for your DCs?
Lots of variety, and nice family chat.

Do you have any quick and easy family favourites that are sure to be a hit every time?
He loves stir fried noodles with vegetables; pasta, and pizza.

Wheresthecoffee Fri 21-Jun-13 06:45:56

We don't eat together nearly as often as I'd like, DP is never back at DS dinner time. I find the actual planning/prep/cleaning up a chore but really enjoy it when we do sit down to eat together.

I am a mum of 3 girls. 7 mths, 3 and 4. I tend to cook from scratch most days. For me it is key to plan ahead. Hubby works away all week so I eat with the children. we eat around 4:30. I take out whatever meat I am using the night before. I don't give the family any options on evening meal. By that I mean we all agree on what we are having and I don't make separate meals. Prep is key. I tend to prepare veg when they are in nursery or playing in garden. Most meals take 30 to 1 hr cooking. I have the children help set table and tidy. they load the dishwasher too. Keeping them involved is key. i do hold my hands up and say Cbeebies sometimes makes an appearance too...

katiewalters Fri 21-Jun-13 12:25:36

Myself, my partner and my 4year old always eat our dinner together everyday at the kitchen table. Myself and my son have breakfast toghether every monring, but my partner has already left the house at that time in the morning already, so he cant, but we always have dinner together. I think its important for families to sit down and share meal times together, at the table, and we talk about our day and catch up. We turn the tv off so theres no distractions, and no gadgets allowed at the table either.
Mealtimes arent a chore generally, as we tend to like the majority of the same things and my 4year old eats a lot of food and will try new things, its my partner thats the more fussy one. If there are things my partner doesnt like, such as certain vegetables, I still put them on his plate, and tell him to at least try them, so my son can see, as I like him to try new things, and dont want him to think because daddy doesnt eat it I dont have to.
Our quick and easy favourite meals would be bolognaise, chilli and a chicken tikka curry, which are all simple and dont take long to make at all

cather Fri 21-Jun-13 12:30:08

We always sit at the table to eat and have since they were babies so it is normal for them. I enjoy mealtimes as it is an opportunity for us all to chat.
I try to involve my children when cooking and this helps at mealtimes as they want to try what they have cooked. My eldest son is 11 now and can make basic meals and enjoys cooking for us and the Schwartz packets are brilliant as the recipes are so easy to follow and it means he can make a tasty meal easily.

Pasta, bacon and mushrooms in a cheese sauce is always a favourite along with shepherds pie, chicken casserole and lasagne

asuwere Fri 21-Jun-13 12:31:01

we have always eaten at the table as a family so everyone just knows it's mealtime and sit quite well - it's neither treat or chore, just normal part of the day. TV is always put off so we can just chat.
Favourites are generally the simplest things - pasta! The kids also love it if there is any kind of food where they can use their hands! Also love when they get to use chop sticks instead of forks for a change!

landofsoapandglory Fri 21-Jun-13 12:47:59

We all eat together at the table, in the dining room with no TV, no gadgets, no phones. Now the DC are teens (18&16) it is generally the only time in the day we are all together, so we chat about our days, tend to say what we plans we have for the week/weekend etc.

I won't allow my mealtimes to become a chore, they have to be a relaxed affair. My DB was quite a fussy eater, but he genuinely didn't like foods cooked together like casseroles, stews, cottage pies etc, yet he was forced to eat them. Meal times were stressful, a chore and an effort to be part of when I lived at home, our parents would be shouting and DB would be turning green. I won't have that. If my DC try something and it is obvious they don't like it they don't have to eat it. You won't get me to eat something I don't like so I am not going to do that to my DC, I will pop a pizza in the oven if we have Minestrone soup because DS1 really dislikes it, the same for DS2 with cottage pie.

When the DC were small if they were reluctant to try something I used to tell them that their favourite television characters ate it and it was their favourite. DS1 would gobble down cottage pie,for example, under the pretence of it being Postman Pat's favourite's dinner!

Our quick and easy favourites are chilli prawn linguine,sticky ginger chicken, rice and stir fry veg and chicken fajitas. But our absolute favourite is homemade barbecue spare ribs but they take almost 2 hours in the oven, but so worth it!

is1 Fri 21-Jun-13 12:50:13

We always sit down together. I try to do as much in advance e.g. make a fish pie and peel potatoes, prep veg etc, then it only takes a few minutes to have the meal on the table when everyone suddenly decides they are so hungry they can't wait any longer. I try to experiment and have new recipes but there are some favourites that I do most weeks.

SacreBlue Fri 21-Jun-13 13:14:12

Received the packets yesterday and putting a call out for lunch guests as it's a perfect excuse to have friends over - they will be honest so I'm secretly worried it might dint my cooking rep and i will get all comments before too much accompanying drink is imbibed.

bluebump Fri 21-Jun-13 18:08:30

My DS and me always sit down together and eat, we always have done even if I feel it's a bit early to eat for me. (I'm prone to snacking later on when I eat my meal too early on in the evening blush)

I find I generally avoid any dinner time meltdowns if I involve DS in the dinner in some way - ie, I'm making pasta tonight, do you want pesto, cheese sauce or tomato type sauce? Or, just make sure he knows in advance what he's having so that I don't slave over making it and put it in front of him for him to say "yuck, I didn't want that" or something!

Luckily I work part time so I often am able to find a way to make a start on dinner before I pick him up from school, the biggest meltdowns happen when he's hungry NOW and dinner is no where near ready!

poachedeggs Fri 21-Jun-13 20:14:09

I think it's just a case of making it a habit. Get kids involved in setting the table and encourage serving at the table rather than plating up food beforehand. It all helps to civilise the little brutes ;)

Family favourites include anything Mexican which can be picked at and mixed and matched, homemade pizzas, and roast dinners.

Mealtimes aren't a chore, although if I could change one thing it would be that I never, ever get to sit down and eat a whole meal without getting up and down at least five times refilling drinks, replacing dropped cutlery, serving seconds and generally being a waiter. Looking forward to being on the receiving end of this treatment in years to come!

wibblyjelly Fri 21-Jun-13 21:19:41

Not making a fuss over dinner time I think is key. I also use a slow cooker a lot of the time, to make sure meals have plenty of flavour, and are tender. I'm sure the sachets would lend themselves to this very well.

DuelingFanjo Fri 21-Jun-13 22:29:12

I received my packs yesterday and we used on this evening so I will feed back soon.

lorisparkle Sat 22-Jun-13 00:10:13

So, how do you get your family eating together at mealtimes?

It is just part of our routine. DS 1,2, and 3 are still quite young so whoever is home at the same time eat together.

Do you find mealtimes a treat or a chore?

It is great to sit around the table together but DS 1 ,2, and 3 see it as another opportunity to 'play' creating mixtures with sauces etc and need reminding about table manners. I would not stop having mealtimes together though

What are your top tips for making family meals interesting for your DCs?

The boys love any kind of sauces and dips so these go down well, as well as help yourself / make it yourself meals like pittas, fajitas, pizzas etc.

Do you have any quick and easy family favourites that are sure to be a hit every time?

Anything with pasta - especially bolegnese sauce

Snog Sat 22-Jun-13 14:00:22

We like to cook from scratch but both work full time and long hours.
I found that the resourceful cook website and good food magazine/website give me new ideas. My dd is pretty fussy so I am always trying to find new ideas that she will like!
Then the ones that are yummy and easy to make get printed off for our menu file and get a regular slot.
We always sit down at the table to eat and the TV is always off (unless dp is not there!)

MerryMarigold Sat 22-Jun-13 19:13:10

So, how do you get your family eating together at mealtimes? Do you find mealtimes a treat or a chore? What are your top tips for making family meals interesting for your DCs? Do you have any quick and easy family favourites that are sure to be a hit every time?

We tend to eat together, or the kids and I eat together. We have no snacks for a couple of hours beforehand. We ban the words, "I hate that", "It's disgusting" and "Yuck". If you get down from the table more than twice, you lose pudding. Family favourites are spag bol, macaroni cheese, fishcakes, curry, chilli con carne, roast chicken. For the spag bol and chilli, I make a big batch of tomato based veg which I puree with aubergine, garlic, onion, courgette and any other veg I have handy.

I personally LOVE Schwartz spag bol and chilli packets and this is what my kids are used to as well, in particular v fussy ds1.

itsnothingoriginal Sat 22-Jun-13 22:09:15

We all eat together fairly early and this is really important to us as a family.

I love chatting properly to the kids at mealtimes but feeding them can be a chore. Both like very different foods and they are quite fussy. Most days one will say 'I don't like it!!'

It's hard to get a word in edgeways but I think we all enjoy the mealtime banter so it's usually fun and interesting.

The only meal all of us will eat without any moaning is a roast on Sundays! Otherwise, favourites are stir fry, macaroni cheese and meatballs.

ChocChaffinch Sat 22-Jun-13 22:28:41

trying to eat together as a family works well for us as the dc's have to wait until dh gets in, consequently they are hungrier and less fussy grin

I always encourage them to try anything and everything, without making them eat if they dislike it. This has made them confident triers of quite spicy and exotic dishes - curries, Chinese, biltong, chorizo, spring onions, passion fruit etc to name a few

I mix in the 5 a day in ways that are sometimes different; like a chopped up apple with salad, fruit dippers into cream/ choc sauce etc

they love to make their own as much as possible, I will give them plain pasta and bowls of cut up ham, tomato, broccoli etc in front of them so they control what goes in, this creates a kind of competition as to who can eat the most/ snaffle the most etc, useful to get the cucumber sticks down them

The family enjoy tasty meals, the pre organised spices and jars are a godsend to me as I'm a pants cook. any kind of pasta, cottage pie, fish burgers, the key is the have loads of options so I'm always looking out for easy new ideas, I find the asda magazine helpful, plus my Jamie 15mins cookbook, we have family recipes for cheesey onion potatoes, but kids' and dh fave is steak! ds in particular very enthusiastic on the red meat front.

sharond101 Sat 22-Jun-13 22:35:10

So, how do you get your family eating together at mealtimes? We eat together when DH comes home from work. It's a good time to have a catch up and not too late for DS who is one year old.
Do you find mealtimes a treat or a chore? Depends on the mood of DS. If he he happy and settled I find them a treat, otherwise it's stressful preparing food and eating it with him shouting, looking for attention and refusing to eat his own.
What are your top tips for making family meals interesting for your DCs? My DS is only one but he loves to eat wht we are eating and somehow everything tastes better if it comes from my or his daddy's plate so i put some nibbles for him on both of mine and DH's plate and we serve him that whilst we eat.
Do you have any quick and easy family favourites that are sure to be a hit every time? I do alot of batch cooking and just prepare a side on the day. Enchiladas are our current favourite.

beanandspud Sat 22-Jun-13 23:13:35

During the week DS has school dinners and then just a sandwich when he gets home so we don't do proper family dinners.

Weekends are different though, we aim to have a proper 'family tea' where we all sit at the table. A roast dinner is a real favourite with loads of veggies and potatoes; pasta is a close second. We do also eat out a lot as a family.

We try to make mealtimes together a real treat - I set the table properly (even if we're outside) and there's no TV. It's a chance to chat and have a laugh. Luckily DS eats most things and will try lots of different foods so we'll often have curry night/paella night etc.

ratflavouredjelly Sat 22-Jun-13 23:21:10

My kids have been brought up eating at the table. We make it fun. we chat, talk about food, how the day went etc. Even when they were babies and eating earlier than us I would make sure I had a tiny plate of food too. The tv is never on at breakfast, lunch, dinner.if it is the children ask for it to be tired off!
Meals are never a chore for the kids (maybe for tired mum sometimes)! They like to stand on chairs and watch me chopping & preparing stuff in the kitchen. My 4 & 6 year old have little chopping boards to chop up mushrooms with a blunt knife to join in.
Family faves: chilli with chorizo & mozzarella
Apple crumble & cinnamon
Fish pie
Homemade fish cakes
Pasta

FaresPlease Sun 23-Jun-13 10:19:55

My DC are 7,5 and 3, and I'm still tending to cook two separate meals every dinner time - one door the kids, and one for myself and DH. We like hot, spicy foods, and the DC just aren't into curries yet! Although we so encourage them to try!

So mostly the DC sit together at the table eating their meal, while I am cooking dinner number two, and waiting for DH to come home from work.

The one day we do sit down together, without fail, is sunday. We always do a full Sunday roast, stuffing, veg, gravy, etc etc, with the table all nicely set. And this really is the kids favourite meal of the week. And they know they get proper puddings on a Sunday too! It's lovely to sit down all together, and a good time to reinforce good table manners and etiquette!

HairyPoppins Mon 24-Jun-13 22:51:18

We love to cook and eat together in our kitchen. My 2 year old has become increasingly fussy over the last year or so, but noodles, pasta, spaghetti and macaroni are always winners with her. It works for me too, as I can sometimes get away with sneaking extra bits of chicken, sausage or veg into sauces.

I like to get everyone involved, put the radio on and have a sing or a dance as the food is being cooked or prepared, and to prepare something with as few steps or ingredients as possible, to take the extra thinking out of the process if we're all tired after a busy day.

Lemonytrees Wed 26-Jun-13 19:15:33

Saturday night is 'international' night in our house. We take it in turns to pick the country and then we research and cook food from that place. Sometimes it's easy, like Mexican or Italian but we have been pretty adventurous. It's been great to get the dc to try lots of new things

AngelieMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 27-Jun-13 11:04:14

Thanks for all your comments, the winner of the prize draw is tanfastic - I'll PM you to get your details.

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