People often think I feed my children kale and quinoa salads with a grilled meat of some sort with a fancy jus, and that my kids eat it.

Short answer, no.

No, I do not feed my family or children fancy offerings. And, no, my children do not always eat their dinner.

I am a simple home cook who uses whole foods pretty much the whole time, but it ain’t fancy, ever.

And, my kids do not always eat what I cook,  and I am completely fine with that.

Yet to ensure they eat the best they can and that the food doesn’t go to waste and that they, nor I don’t have a panic attack or lose my brain through the whole meal time, I stick by some tried and tested meal time nutritional theories which I wanted to share with you.

My first one is Family Style Eating.

Think tacos, burritos, European degustation of foods on the tables. Self serving, buffet style but on the generic chipped table at my place.

This theory or style of eating is used in my house around 80% of the time and I love it. I love it so hard and I’ll tell you why.

  • You pop the foods onto the table and let the family serve themselves what they like. That is it.
  • As I am not hovering over food choices, it dramatically reduces my stress and theirs.
  • It is easier to get kids to eat vegetables (lay it out, self serve style)
  • I don’t really even know what the kids are eating and that is ok (I actually sometimes forget what foods each kid does or doesn’t like, and that’s ok because it changes regularly and within one day, and there is enough variety for them to choose from anyways).
  • There is beautiful variety of food (nutritional variety is queen!).
  • Perfect for a varied age group of children, they can eat to their stage.
  • Its aligned with my other favourite theory, Division of Responsibility (another meal time strategy and theory, Ill talk about it more next week).
  • It reduces waste (i.e. if it isn’t eaten, I can easily pack it up for the next meal)
  • It is easy to use leftovers (pesto pasta, plus a side of grilled corn, plus a side of black beans and potatoes, voila, dinner is served)

So for the said meal above, tacos, how does it go down in my house?

Well for this particular meal, all of those food ingredients were literally popped on the table. The “meat” mix is actually more like a lentil bolognese, plant based.

The two eldest girls served themselves.

Miss I (8), is quite a happy eater. She tries most foods and has an appetite. She ate all the foods and created her own tacos, eating two. She didn’t have avocado from memory.

Miss M (5), is my fussier poppet, dinner is not her favourite meal time, she is often tired. She served herself two tacos. One filled with carrot and sourcream. The second filled with cheese, sour cream, carrot and capsicum. I asked if she would like to try the lentil taco mix I made and she dipped a bit of taco in there but didn’t really like it. No pressure was placed on her, just a suggestion.

Mr T (2), I helped him with a taste of all the ingredients on his plate and he went back for more cheese. He also gave me back the grated carrot. Literally in my hand heheheeh. He just ate everything separately and crumbled the taco shell everywhere.

Pretty stock standard out our place.

Over the next few months, I will give you some other examples of family style eating meals, as I do love them ridiculously so and I would love if you could share some of your favourite family style eating meals too.