- Meals eaten at home are generally healthier than dinner out
- It can be cheaper to eat at home (as long as you stay away from lobster tail every night)
- Kids who eat dinner with their families are likelier to do better in school. It’s true! Kids in all grades who report not eating dinner with their families are more likely to have worse grades
I’m lucky. My husband likes to cook and does so often. I’ve even influenced him over our ten years together and am happy to report that butter usage is down; olive oil usage is at an all-time high. It isn’t easy—it’s a challenge to get those dinners on the table and get the dishes cleaned up every night. We try to modify dinner to suit three different needs instead of serving entirely different meals. Our four year old is picky, just like his mama was. He does not like food mixed together, no casseroles, only tomato soup with no chunks or specks, no melted cheese, and especially important is that foods shall not touch one-another. But we keep putting “adult” food on his plate as well as things we know/hope he will eat. For example, mom and dad’s meal: chicken and bean burritos with veggies. Four year old's meal: whole grain tortilla heated just right; raw carrots and red pepper, kidney beans rinsed and right out the can, chicken to try even though I know he won’t like it, one percent milk. Eighteen month old's meal: avocado, cooked carrots, chicken, beans, some leftover whole grain pasta, whole milk. My daughter loves all things food and has been eating chunky food since she was physically capable. We used to call her the Buzzsaw for a charming noise she would make if she didn’t get food fast enough.
One thing that has helped my son try new (or just un-liked) foods is that at his daycare they read a book about a girl named Anna who tried just two bites of her food. To this day I don’t know what the book is, but he mentioned it one evening and in tough times, I pull out Anna and it actually works. Having a “just try it” policy makes for a more relaxed dinner—dad is happy the boy tries the food he slaved over and the boy is happy he doesn’t have to clear his plate. I believe (and studies back me up, here) that at his age, dinner is really about creating that atmosphere of trust and connecting as a family every night; not about clearing the plate.