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Monday, April 6, 2015

Mommy Monday: interactive meals for family fun

Today I want to share with you a mealtime favorite in my house: what I call "interactive meals". Basically I'm talking about a meal that requires participants to make choices and customize their dish at the table. I have found these meals to be perfect for toddlers, because it gives them control over what they eat without becoming a short-order cook, and a great way to make meal time more fun by giving everyone more involvement beyond just consuming the items that appear on their plate. These meals are perfect for the weekend when you have a little more time to relax at the table and enjoy each other's company, but they're not so involved that you couldn't whip it up on a weeknight if you wanted!

The basic idea is to have lots of options for what people can add to their plate, and put them all on the table. Sort of like a buffet but everything is right there in front of you. The sky is the limit on what kinds of meals you could put together along these lines, but here are our top 3 favorites at the moment:

Salad Bar

This is a great way to eat lots of veggies. So colorful and perfect for warmer weather! 

Ingredients: at least 1 leafy green
                    several chopped vegetables
                    other toppings: fruit, cheese, nuts, hard boiled egg, bacon bits, beans...
                    salad dressing

I usually pick either the savory or sweet side and stick with those to avoid getting too weird. For sweet salads, berries, feta cheese, nuts or seeds, and vinaigrette make a great combination. For savory, hard boiled eggs, shredded cheddar cheese, black beans, and bacon bits work well together. Our favorite veggies at the moment include bell pepper, cucumber, carrot, corn, avocado, and spinach.

Taco Night

So much fun. Use scrambled eggs instead of meat to make it for breakfast!

Ingredients: tortillas (we use the flour fajita ones)
                    meat (chicken, ground meat, shrimp, steak, fish, or even scrambled eggs)
                    shredded cheese
                    vegetables (avocado, canned corn, black beans, spinach, bell peppers...)

I love this meal because I can keep most of the ingredients on hand. One thing I have learned is to let my toddlers eat it however they want and not try to show them how to roll up their tortilla (unless they ask). One of my girls puts everything on a tortilla, then eats it all with a fork and eats the tortilla by itself at the end. Whatever floats your boat, I guess!

Pancake Breakfast

We do this most often with french toast, actually, or you could do the same with waffles. 

Ingredients: pancakes/waffles/french toast
                    fruit (berries, mango, banana, kiwi...)
                    spreads (peanut butter, jellies/jams, butter, cream cheese)
                    other toppings: whipped cream, cinnamon sugar, bacon bits, chocolate chips, nuts

This is something that probably almost every family in North America has from time to time, but the fun is in coming up with new toppings to try (and combinations of toppings!). One of my toddlers pulled cream cheese out of the fridge one time- you guys, cream cheese is amazing on french toast! I don't know why it isn't a staple pancake topping already but it is great with fruit and nuts. 

What meals have you tried to make meal time more interactive for the whole family?

1 comment :

  1. Thanks for linking up at Bloggers Brags Weekly Pinterest Party this week. I'm pinning to our group board on Pinterest!