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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,


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.

ProbablyJustGas Mon 17-Jun-13 10:48:54

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.

TotallyEggFlipped Mon 17-Jun-13 20:11:06

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.

OrangeMochaFrappucino 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?

chilli con carne & rice
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

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).

MakeTeaNotWar Tue 18-Jun-13 12:26:07

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.

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