This How to Make Food Fun and Enticing For Kids post is a collaboration between Little Peeps Eats and Kind to Kidz. Images are of the Re-Play range, which can be purchased here.
Kids eat with all five senses, and usually eat with their eyes first. You probably know the scenario: they come to the table, take one look at the meal, and declare that they don’t like it before they’ve even tasted it. So, a great way to make a meal more appealing to kids is to make a habit of serving it in a fun, colourful way.
Little peeps are drawn to bright colours, and young children especially equate eating with playing. To them, it’s all one and the same. It’s great if we can encourage a playful and positive attitude towards food, and allow them to view it as something interesting and fun, rather than overwhelming and stressful.
How to make food fun and enticing for kids
Do you find that you’re making separate meals for the kids, that are a little on the bland or beige side? You know what I’m talking about: pasta with cheese, or chicken nuggets. Rinse and repeat. It’s easy to get in a food rut with kids, especially the ones who are on the picky side. But, ideally kids should be offered meals that are loaded with a rainbow of veggies and fruit, just as you would eat. They deserve a varied diet which is integral to their healthy development.
Are you wondering if making food fun means creating works of Insta-worthy art with it? Absolutely not…unless you want to, of course! Do you think you’ll need to buy food that’s specially targeted at kids, like the snacks that come in shiny packets with cartoon characters? Nope, save your money. Let’s ditch the idea of enticing our kids to eat ‘children’s food’ (hello, clever supermarket marketing, I’m looking at your ‘kids’ food shelves!), and instead serve them the same food we enjoy, and encourage them to try interesting, new, diverse flavours and an array of colours. We can make these foods fun and enticing by doing a few easy things (without the fuss and frills, because who has time for that!).
Here are some ideas for making food fun and enticing for kids:
Make the table fun
We’re big fans of Re-Play tableware, and we love that it’s founded on the belief that mealtime is family time. Adding colour brings a playfulness to mealtimes, and removes the seriousness and sometimes stressful vibe that often happens (and usually unintentionally). Re-Play’s range is durable and sturdy (so they’ll last for years), dishwasher safe, and it comes in a lovely array of colours to brighten up any meal. Oh, and did I mention it’s all made from recycled plastic milk cartons!
Some other ideas to make the table fun is to ask the kids to make some colourful centrepieces. Depending on their age, they might like to make some flowers out of paper scraps, or even pick some real flowers from your garden. I sometimes put bunches of herbs in jars on the table, which gets the kids asking questions about them, smelling them, and even adding them to their meals. They’re there as decoration, but kids are curious by nature, and it’s another opportunity to expose them to new smells and tastes without the pressure to eat it.
Your kids might like to make their own place mats, or decorate an old tablecloth with fabric paint. Even a LEGO or play-doh creation make fantastic centrepieces and talking points (which then takes the focus of conversation off the food).
Separate and deconstruct
A lot of kids like to keep different foods separated, which is why divider plates are awesome. Let’s say your child likes corn, but they’re still learning to like green beans. If those foods were touching, your kid might not even want to eat the corn, flat out refusing the meal. Kids are funny like that! In saying that, I have a friend who is super picky and still doesn’t like certain foods touching, and they’re foods she enjoys.
Deconstructing meals is another awesome strategy for enticing kids to the table. Lay everything out in the middle of the table with a couple of pairs of tongs, and let the kids decide what they’re going to put on their own plates. I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, ‘you provide, they decide’ when it comes to mealtimes. Allowing our kids some independence, confidence, and choice helps to take away the stress and pressure. A kid who feels forced to do something will put up their defences, and refusing new foods is their way of taking back some control of the situation.
Some of our favourite meals to deconstruct are:
- Kid friendly lamb burgers on pita
- DIY tacos with our Quinoa con carne recipe
- Stuffed baked potatoes
- You can even deconstruct pasta
- Grazing platters
- Roast meat and veggies
Tell us what your favourite deconstructed meals are. Come and join our support group to share your ideas with other parents.
Prepare fruit and vegetables in creative ways
Making fruit and vegetables more fun for kids doesn’t mean you have to make food faces or cut out dinosaurs (unless you have that creative urge). By all means, you can encourage the kiddos to do that with their food! Playing with their food is still another positive exposure to it. If they’re happy to touch that spinach leaf that they won’t eat, then that is a huge win! Touching a new food is one of the steps towards eating it, so don’t rush it, just let them have some fun.
Preparing food in creative ways simply means cutting fruit and veggies into sticks or coins, grating it, spiralising it, or using cookie cutters if you want. In other words, mix it up. For example, roast some broccoli, serve it raw, slice it, put it on skewers, or add it to salads or cook it in fritters – the options are endless!
Add pops of colour to meals
Let’s say I’ve made spaghetti bolognese. I like to also add to the table some raw veggie sticks or peas and corn, and some basil to sprinkle on top. You could put all of these extra foods on a platter in the middle of the table, or put them in silicone muffin moulds for extra fun.
Don’t forget colourful dips like our healthy vegetable dip your kids will love! Dipping is always fun, and so is food on skewers, and anything the kids can eat with their hands.
Bonus tips for enticing kids to the table
- Eat most meals with them
- Remember to add new foods with favourite ones
- Set up a routine to eat at approximately the same times each day
- Embrace the mess, and try not to worry about spilled drinks or when they eat with their fingers
- Chat about your day, there’s no need to focus only on the food or drill them with a million questions about their day
- Set a time limit for meals if they tend to drag on (about 20 minutes is realistic)
- Turn the TV off and remove any other toys or distractions from the table
- Never force, pressure, bribe, or reward a child to eat
- Keep the atmosphere fun and light…make mealtimes enjoyable and social
Interested in the Re-Play range?
Made from recycled milk cartons, Re-Play tableware is strong, sturdy and safe for little ones. Not only are they better for your child, they are better for your environment! Kind to Kidz sell the spill-proof sippy cups, snack pods and lids, large bowls, drinking cups, divided trays, large flat plates, straw cups, infant spoons, flat plates, feeding utensils, and the popular eco divider kids plates. The Re-Play range is:
- FDA approved recycled plastic (BPA Free)
- Dishwasher Safe
- Made in the USA
- Excellent Value & Long Lasting
- Comes individually with no packaging
You can purchase your own from Kind to Kidz, and you’ll be supporting a mum in biz!
We are also hosting a giveaway where you can win your very own Re-Play tableware. Head on over to our Group for your chance to win! Competition closes Sunday 17 November at midnight AEST. Good luck! x
Kara Wilson is the Online Brand Manager of Little Peeps Eats. She is a parenting writer, editor, and Melbourne mum to two kids under 5.. After working with small kids for many years, she’s picked up a few tips and tricks to raising adventurous eaters. Little Peeps Eats helps families take the stress out of mealtimes by providing healthy, kid approved recipes, as well as fussy eating tips and tricks. Their website hosts a directory of nutritionists, resources and mealtime products to ensure that you have everything you need at your fingertips when it comes to feeding your family.