Top tips for family meal times

August 9, 2018

With the children at home for several weeks over the summer, keeping things creative in the kitchen is a must. Devoid of the school day to distract from the humdrum of the dining table experience, creating fun family mealtimes is a must.

Getting children involved in the culinary process is a wonderful way to spend time together. In a day and age when all activities seem to cost the earth, going back to basics can really please the school holiday budget.

Adding a good dollop of dedication to family meal times can show youngsters a world of wonders. From costing, planning and cooking to hosting and entertaining, putting the pleasure into dining can make it an enjoyable experience rather than an ongoing chore. Who knows, us parents may even enjoy plating up the grub!

Breaking free from the usual hectic timetable to allow for such a slow-paced dinner is a luxury in itself. It teaches children that meal times aren’t simply a pitstop in our fast-paced world, but a pleasure-filled event. Let’s see how this can be achieved.

Plan the menu

Youngsters love to have a say in what goes down in the house. Set out a budget and take a trip to the local butchers, greengrocers, bakers, or if you prefer to do the ‘Big Shop’, your nearest supermarket.

With your weekly menu plan designed, create a list and pick up what you need from the stores. Equipped for cooking, it’s time to hit the kitchen.

Portmeirion The Very Hungry Caterpillar Children’s Baking Set

Get involved with cooking

Whether you follow recipes or go with your instinct a la how-granny-used-to-bake-it, involve your children in the process. With the end product in mind, talk them through the ingredients, let them get hands on and teach them measurements and techniques. Don’t forget cooking temperatures and safety tips, too.

While the end result may not quite be Pinterest perfect, it will certainly have homemade charm. As little ones gleam with delight, it will definitely be a dinner they’ll be proud of.

Portmeirion The Very Hungry Caterpillar 3 Piece Melamine Set

Setting the table

Ok, so it seems so simple but setting the table correctly is a skill that is frankly going straight down the swanny. And why? After all, it should be perfectly obvious where placemats, cutlery, and condiments live on the dining table.

The fact is, hectic lifestyles do not agree with beautifully adorned table settings. Say a big-fat no to this over summer. Enjoy picking flowers together for a chic, cheap, cheery centrepiece. Show the little ones where knives, forks and spoons lie. Light a candle. Drink from matching glasses. Beautiful.

Portmeirion The Very Hungry Caterpillar Melamine Sectional Tray

Do things differently

As excited as children will be to eat the food they have prepared, why not do things differently from time to time? After all, dinner-table rules were made to be broken, right?

Plate up sides or puddings in the middle of the table, let children choose their bits and pieces for themselves. Ditch the formalities altogether and head to the park with a wholesome homemade picnic. Encourage your youngsters to entertain, creating a buffet and inviting their friends, and your nearest and dearest.

And, don’t forget, dining isn’t reserved solely for food. Add in some table games for a first-class family meal time.

Win a Portmeirion The Very Hungry Caterpillar 3 Piece Melamine Set

Boo Roo and Tigger Too are giving one reader the chance to give their family meals a Very Hungry Caterpillar twist, with a Portmeirion The Very Hungry Caterpillar 3 Piece Melamine Set to giveaway.

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Review Collaboration


  • Rebecca Cusick August 9, 2018 at 11:40 am

    Try and have set meal times & make sure everyone eats at the same time when possible! I find that having everyone eating together helps a lot x

  • Sarah Morris August 9, 2018 at 12:51 pm

    No phones at meal times

  • Amanda Baggott August 9, 2018 at 1:19 pm

    Always eat at the table

  • Debbie Finnerty August 9, 2018 at 1:32 pm

    Don’t fuss, this has been the biggest tip for me I have a really fussy eater and for a long time I would stress ‘he won’t eat veg’ or ‘he doesn’t ever finish a meal’ and meal times often became a battle zone, in the end I was took advice from the professionals and just stepped back, if he doesn’t finish a meal that’s ok he won’t starve himself lol so now there is less pressure and we actually love meal times now it’s the best family time of the day!

  • Yvonne August 9, 2018 at 2:12 pm

    No TV or mobiles at mealtimes

  • Jamie Piper August 9, 2018 at 2:29 pm

    No TV during meal times, up at the table

  • Tracy Nixon August 9, 2018 at 2:30 pm

    Ban any technology at the table and talk!

  • Danielle Spencer August 9, 2018 at 2:30 pm

    Put the technology away for dinner time.

  • Marycarol August 9, 2018 at 2:56 pm

    No distractions whether its tv or phones x

  • Helen Moulden August 9, 2018 at 4:10 pm

    I think secretly conceal vegetables in the food!

  • Sarah Mackay August 9, 2018 at 4:25 pm

    I try and get the kids involved as much as possible

  • Jessica Nightingale August 9, 2018 at 4:41 pm

    Chuck a bit of classic fm on in the background!

  • Lorna Ledger August 9, 2018 at 5:25 pm

    We look at things on Pinterest, Kids eat with their eyes! then we make them

  • Kathleen Marsden August 9, 2018 at 5:37 pm

    No tv, no tech, and make a set time everyday if you can

  • LAURA MILTON August 9, 2018 at 6:02 pm

    We have a routine that we stick to everyday so the kids dont get stressed or confused. We start with choosing if we want veg or salad as a side then wash hands, set table together and get cups ready. We all eat at the table and make it fun by talking about things like peas are footballs for elves and broccoli keeps fairies dry from the rain 🙂 It keeps them interested and before you know it their plates are empty!

  • Michelle Smith August 9, 2018 at 7:22 pm

    Try and eat together and not at seperate times.

  • amy bondoc August 9, 2018 at 8:53 pm

    i love gettign the kids involved in the cooking, stops them being fussy 😉

  • Solange August 9, 2018 at 9:25 pm

    Eat around the table and set a good example. From time to time we might tuck into a pizza on the sofa in front of a film, but the rest of the time we eat at the table, and whenever we have the opportunity to sit down together as a family we make sure we do it. Treat meals as social family time to be enjoyed, rather than as a chore which they have to complete in order to go back to playing.

  • Val Pownall August 9, 2018 at 11:08 pm

    Involve the little ones in the cooking and serving, setting the table, taking drink orders and helping serve. They suddenly become very grown up.

  • Colin Simon August 9, 2018 at 11:56 pm

    Every one having a set meal time if possible and no phones or tv.

  • Rich Tyler August 10, 2018 at 12:56 am

    No phones / tablets etc to distract at dinner time, ideally sit together as a family

  • Laura Turner August 10, 2018 at 7:04 am

    no phones, tablets or games and all waste goes in the compost bin.

  • Sue McCarthy August 10, 2018 at 8:05 am

    I don’t have any children but would love to win this prize to donate to charity, to go to Romania.

  • iain maciver August 10, 2018 at 9:28 am

    a good routine

  • Sally Collingwood August 10, 2018 at 9:48 am

    We all sit together, no mobiles, lots of chatter and interaction!!

  • Mrs Kay Young August 10, 2018 at 10:45 am

    Eat together

  • gemma hendry August 10, 2018 at 2:14 pm

    eat together no tv

  • Lydia Joy August 10, 2018 at 3:47 pm

    My top tip is don’t expect it to be perfect – because it won’t be! Praise your kids for eating nicely, encourage chewing with their mouth closed and using cutlery, but don’t stress if they can’t manage. Allow kids to explore their food and they’ll enjoy a larger variety.

  • Samantha O'D August 10, 2018 at 4:58 pm

    Try sit down and eat at the same time. meal times are nightmare in our house. Big family and a tiny kitchen. desperately saving for an extension

  • Judith Lightfoot August 10, 2018 at 9:03 pm

    No meals on knees in front of the TV, table at all times!

  • Geri Gregg August 11, 2018 at 12:07 pm

    Family eats together, no tv

  • Tracy Newton August 11, 2018 at 7:22 pm

    Pick your battles, food and meal times are not one of them. Your child will not starve

  • Vikki Sanderson August 11, 2018 at 10:45 pm

    Keep relaxed and don’t force the kids to eat things they don’t like, as long as they at least try it.

  • cheryl hadfield August 12, 2018 at 10:43 pm

    Always sit and eat together at the table

  • Rachael Sexey August 13, 2018 at 12:04 pm

    Always eat as a family and turn off all electrical items so you have no distractions and can talk ☺

  • Ema J Lowe August 14, 2018 at 10:47 am

    all electronic devices get put down, while we are eating

  • Helen Stratton August 14, 2018 at 4:25 pm

    As someone else has said – don’t fuss. Keep dinner a relaxed and fun family time. All eat together and catch up with each other.

  • andrea tinkler August 14, 2018 at 7:46 pm

    I try to make meal times as relaxed as possible as my little girl does not seen to eat much. If i nag her she eats even less!!!

  • jules eley August 14, 2018 at 9:46 pm

    Get the kids to help with making and setting up to help them feel apart of it!

  • Ann Grisdale August 16, 2018 at 1:59 pm

    Use Portmeirion ‘Very Hungry Caterpillar’ or ‘Peppa Pig’ melamine sets as part of your relaxed meal routine as you sit at the table to eat as a family whenever possible. You cant go wrong!

  • Beth Owen August 16, 2018 at 6:51 pm

    My top tip would be to make the kids plates fun! My kids love it when I make animals/faces out of their food

  • Pam Smith August 16, 2018 at 10:20 pm

    No electronic devices at the table

  • JULIE WARD August 17, 2018 at 8:53 pm

    We let grandchildren help with the cooking, it most probably tastes better than if I did it myself

  • Niki Marie Wardle August 18, 2018 at 10:13 pm

    Let the kids choose what they want (within reason) while shopping and get them involved with meal planning.

  • Nancy Bradford August 19, 2018 at 7:31 am

    My top tip is no electronics (including the telly being) on during meal time.

  • Carolyn Montgomery August 19, 2018 at 10:57 am

    This would be a lovely set for my grandchild x

  • Joanna Munro August 19, 2018 at 4:26 pm

    Making little mosters using the food definitley helps getting them to eat it, veg included

  • kris mc August 21, 2018 at 11:50 am

    Let them join in with the cooking.

  • richard hill August 21, 2018 at 7:00 pm

    try to keep regular times eat at the table and no games or phones at the table

  • Susan Willshee August 21, 2018 at 9:40 pm

    I know it seems old fashioned now but sitting around the table minimizes mess and gives us all a chance to chat during the meal

  • Thomas August 22, 2018 at 2:26 pm

    No screens!

  • sheri Darby August 22, 2018 at 3:09 pm

    Try and cook something everyone enjoys

  • Sam Parkes August 22, 2018 at 10:00 pm

    All sitting at the table and all phones an tablets turned off

  • Hannah Scudder August 22, 2018 at 10:10 pm

    Eat together as a family when possible and no technology or tv at the table.

  • Ashley Phillips August 22, 2018 at 11:10 pm

    My children eat better if they’ve helped make it, even if it’s just stirring something or helping put it on the baking tray

  • paula cheadle August 23, 2018 at 11:27 pm

    no phones or telly

  • Beverley Evans August 24, 2018 at 8:26 am

    My Grandchildren always lay the table and then sit around the table to eat. They talk about their day and there is no tv or phones at mealtimes.

  • Jenny Rogers August 24, 2018 at 10:53 am

    Get the children to help with the prep and laying the table, then eat together and chat.

  • Rebecca Whatmore August 24, 2018 at 2:46 pm

    If they don’t like veg then chop it up really small so they can’t see it!

  • Karen Barrett August 24, 2018 at 3:40 pm

    All the family has input into our family meals

  • Jo Bickley August 25, 2018 at 8:51 am

    We don’t have any phones, occasionally we will have the radio on but I don’t make a fuss either.

  • Rebecca Powell August 25, 2018 at 10:51 am

    Get the children to help make meals, then they will enjoy eating what they have made

  • Louise Hayward August 25, 2018 at 11:00 am

    Don’t fuss about how much the kids eat.

  • Sophie Marie Cartwright August 25, 2018 at 11:11 am

    Stick to a set meal time and as they get older, involve them in the cooking!

  • margaret gallagher August 25, 2018 at 6:12 pm

    set meal times convesation and ban tech

  • Rachel B August 25, 2018 at 8:17 pm

    Eat at the table together and not in front of the tv

  • Mary-Ann Smith August 25, 2018 at 8:50 pm

    all eating together at the table, that way the adults model the good eating habits for the small ones

  • amanda greensmith August 25, 2018 at 10:49 pm

    we always sit at the table no TV or phones meal times are family times its a chance for the whole family to catch up

  • Emma Middleton August 26, 2018 at 8:49 am

    Weekly Meal plan, set meal times, eat at table with no phones, conversation is key to a happy mealtime

  • astrid c August 26, 2018 at 9:06 am

    make sure its relaxed and stress free

  • carol boffey August 26, 2018 at 9:41 am

    family meals at the table

  • Allan Fullarton August 26, 2018 at 9:42 am

    No TV at meal times.

  • Danielle Pooley August 26, 2018 at 10:13 am

    No phones or tv.

  • Kim Neville August 26, 2018 at 10:17 am

    No gadgets on and have a nice time catching up with family round the table

  • Wendy Tyler August 26, 2018 at 10:18 am

    When introdusing something new, I try to have a couple of things on their plate that the child already knows and likes.

  • Wendy Tyler August 26, 2018 at 10:19 am

    or even when introducing something new!

  • Jo Hutchings August 26, 2018 at 10:22 am

    Always eat together and keep it fun!

  • Nicola Marshall August 26, 2018 at 10:38 am

    I get the kids involved with mealtimes, settings the table and helping with what ever I’m cooking.

  • MANDY DOHERTY August 26, 2018 at 12:40 pm

    Try not to get stressed and no tech at the table

  • Jeanette Leighton August 26, 2018 at 1:22 pm

    Sit at the table with TV off and no toys or distractions….it doesn’t always work in my house with my fussy 2 year old

  • Natalee Gosiewski August 26, 2018 at 3:55 pm

    No tv all sit together same time same meal

  • sara clarke August 26, 2018 at 4:01 pm

    no phones and always sit at the table

  • Danielle graves August 26, 2018 at 5:00 pm

    Compromise, add something new as an accompaniment to a firm favourite so your family can try new things, if they don’t like it it’s no big issue

  • Hayley Todd August 26, 2018 at 6:29 pm

    We always make sure we eat our evening meal together as a family, at the dining table. We always make sure there is no TV and myself and my husband always leave our phones in another room.

  • laura stewart August 26, 2018 at 6:43 pm

    plan a head each week x

  • Em S August 26, 2018 at 9:23 pm

    I love family meal times, everyone can contribute and talk about their day. My top tip is to serve to be relaxed with table manners.

  • Emma Beckett August 26, 2018 at 10:01 pm

    Patience, patience, patience

  • Lia Burns August 26, 2018 at 10:18 pm

    Turn off all technology including the tv, and just enjoy each others company. Life is too short!

  • Natalie Crossan August 26, 2018 at 10:56 pm

    We plan a week ahead and then do a food shop around what we’ve planned

  • Natalie Gillham August 26, 2018 at 11:00 pm

    Eat together round a table, turn off technology and talk to each other x

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