Family style meals

Remembering back to growing up, family meals are often fond memories for many.  From hearing about each others day, sharing family jokes, to making plans.  Family meals, sharing food and conversations are not only a great way to connect and enjoy the company of others but create lifelong habits for our little ones.

A family style meal is when all the components of a meal is served in separate dishes in the centre of the table (including dessert if you choose to serve it ) and each member of the family decides what they want and how much they’re going to eat.

Ensuring at each meal components of each food group is served is a great way to get variety, balance and satisfaction.  If we have children that are learning to like lots of foods or are selective eaters it’s a good idea to offer 1-2 foods that you know they like and that you are ok with if that’s all they eat at this meal. 

We know for many busy families it can be hard to eat like this every day and that is ok, you can start by choosing one meal time a week which may be in the weekend when you have more time.  And yes it can be breakfast too, pancakes with all the condiments around the table is a great way to engage with children!

If you are creating a family style meal with younger children, you may need to serve the items to them.  Older children may wish to serve themselves (yes this is messy!) but it is a great way for them to gain ownership over their meal and choices.  For some little ones having a full plate is overwhelming so this style of eating works well as you can start with only a little on their plate and you can offer more when needed.

Role modelling is incredibly important for our children when learning to eat and like new foods.  So even if they don’t choose to eat each component of the meal, seeing us enjoy a variety of different foods at each meal is still a great way to increase exposure and therefore over time and repetition help our little ones to enjoy these foods too.