If you’ve got children, I won’t have to tell you that teatime can sometimes be a little more than hectic – especially, if you are juggling the needs of more than one child or come home later after an after-school club or class. However, I am a firm believer in eating together as a family and recent research by Columbia University also proves that having dinner together has its benefits. Children who regularly have dinner with their families are less likely to abuse drugs or alcohol, and are more likely to do better in school.
Nutritional scientists at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth have also found that family dinners decrease behavioural issues in children, which means that they are less likely to start fights or get suspended from school.
Now, I know that it’s not always possible to cook from scratch, especially, if you get in late at night and your kids are getting tired and hungry, but luckily Birds Eye have a great range of nutritional meals for all the family that are not only quick to make, but also affordable, tasty and versatile, which means that you spend minimum time in the kitchen and maximum time as a family.
As part of their #Afterschoolchefs campaign with BritMums, Birds Eye have also challenged mums and dads to share their tips and tricks for a smooth and stress-free teatime routine and here are our ideas:
1. Get your kids involved
Allow your children to get involved from start to finish. Let them choose some meals for the week’s meal plan, take them shopping with you and find the ingredients needed. Last, but not least, let them help you prepare the food, even if it is just switching on the oven, pouring peas into a bowl or laying the table. Being involved in preparing the food gives children confidence, teaches them new skills and makes them feel proud of their achievements. Amy loves being Mummy’s little helper and has amazing egg cracking skills for a three year old.
2. Make it fun
Let your kids get creative around the dinner table. They can draw pictures of their favourite foods and drinks, seasonal celebrations and more. It’s a fun activity that gives your dinner table a personal touch and keeps the kids entertained while they wind down after school and wait for the food to be served. Another fun idea for older kids, or if you have time to help, is folding napkins to create napkin animals. How cute is this little origami crab?
3. Get creative
Get creative and pimp your plate. There are so many ways to present food in a fun and exciting way and if you have a fussy eater, creating a fun and themed meal for them is the way forward. Amy isn’t picky at all, luckily, but she loves being surprised with a fun plate of food and Birds Eye products are great, if you want lots of different colours, shapes and textures.
I created this little underwater/beach themed dinner for Amy using solely Birds Eye products and it was done in a matter of minutes. I drew some crab claws and eyes on white cardboard, cut it out and taped them onto a tooth pick before sticking them into the stuffed red pepper.
The filling of the pepper and some of the sand on the beach/sea is Birds Eye’s Mediterranean Rice Infusion, steamed long grain rice with Mediterranean style vegetables and seasoning that can be prepared in the mircowave in just 3.5 minutes. To create the look of golden pebbles and sea weed, I used the pea and sweetcorn veg infusion with a lovely seasoned dollop of butter and of course, we wouldn’t have an underwater or beach scene without some sea creatures to accompany Mr Crab.
We had to get a little creative for this one and ended up using Birds Eye’s Chicken Space Shapes: We turned the star into a starfish and the rocket became Nemo (or any fish of your choice) by simply putting it sideways. Easy peasy!
Amy was over the moon with her underwater dinner and cleared her entire plate – not without complaining that there wasn’t a mermaid, but I guess that’s one for another day…
How do you organise dinner time and make it as stress-free as possible? Have you got a routine after school?
This post is an entry for #Afterschoolchefs Linky Challenge, sponsored by Birds Eye. Learn more on the Birds Eye Facebook page.