Friday, March 13, 2009

Invited To Dinner

Did You Know?
Studies show that the more often families eat together, the less likely kids are to smoke, drink, do drugs, get depressed, develop eating disorders and consider suicide, and the more likely they are to do well in school, delay having sex, eat their vegetables, learn big words and know which fork to use. Time Magazine

I had the pleasure of hearing Lori Welander, a talented local mother, speak this week at my monthly MOPS (Mothers Of PreSchoolers) meeting. In her talk she offered dozens of creative ideas for encouraging kids' participation in the kitchen and around the dinner table. She was FANTASTIC and I just had to pass along some of her ideas...

*Buy paper place mats from a party store and head to Kinko's to copy a coloring page or add an expression "You Are Special Today" to them. Kids can color and decorate and offer to a family member to use at dinner.
*Many families own a Red Plate (and if you don't, you should get one!)--have the children decide who should be awarded the red plate for dinner on any random day. Have a special presentation.
*Encourage the children to set the table, but in their own way. Have them come up with an interesting centerpiece of their own creation. Perhaps provide a plastic votive for them to fill with whatever they choose. Make their presentation a surprise for the family to see when they sit down to eat.
*Buy world map place mats and "travel with your taste buds" to whatever country is represented by the meal. Use black electric tape to map out a line from home to the location. Learn about its culture. Calculate the distance there. Have the family dress up in ethnic garb to celebrate the meal.
*Have single color meals and invite family members to show up to dinner wearing the desired color. Use food coloring or natural dyes (like blending flatleaf parsley and milk to create a green "dye" to use in food prep). Coordinate it with literature like Green Eggs and Ham and Stone Soup.
*Use Tostito Scoops to serve kid-size portions of whatever the family is eating that night for dinner. Buy wonton wraps and have kids fashion them around mini silicone muffin molds. Fill them with an Asian-inspired recipe or whatever!
*Have special aprons/costumes for the kids to wear while cooking.
*Use special (easy) touches like a "food stencil" to use with powdered sugar to make shapes on top of a cake.
*Add small touches, like a strawberry on the lip of a drinking glass, a curly straw, or silly ice cubes to make drinks more enjoyable. Lori had a bag of tricks to make anything fun (e.g. tiny hats to add to mashed potatoes--what kid wouldn't want to eat that?)

Quote of the day for all busy parents:
"Don't reinvent the wheel, just make the wheel look amazing."
(In other words, don't break your back being a culinary wonder all the time--the small touches are a breeze and mean a lot to kids!)

Bon appetit and many blessings!


Anonymous said...

This is the first time I have ever visited your blog. You are so blessed to have this wonderful group of good Catholic families. There is hope for our future! All the best to you! In Jesus and Mary, Henry Cordonnier

texas mommy said...

What fun ideas! Thanks, B-Mama! It can be easy to get stuck in a dinner rut, but just a little change can make everything so fun! (Off to dye some milk green for our early St. Patrick's Day celebration with friends!)