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Hold a Weekly Planning PartyOnce each week, gather the family around some healthy snacks and hold a meal planning party at which everyone gets to have input. The first time you try this, an adult will need to do a little preliminary work so that you can present the kids with healthy choices that fit within your family’s budget. The good news is that once you have established a healthy weekly menu, the time and preparation involved each week will decrease dramatically. Keep kids engaged by introducing some new options every few weeks and allowing them to continue selecting from your pre-determined choices.
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Cook TogetherIf yours is a home where an adult typically handles the food preparation and cleanup, involving the kids will be a big change. Kids and adults both respond well if the new and unfamiliar job of preparing the meal is broken down into manageable pieces, and if they are thanked for their help. Keep the environment fun and let everyone experience how good it feels to work together. Encourage children to touch, taste or smell ingredients as you prepare foods. Help your children feel like chefs by having special aprons they can wear while they help you, or their own set of cooking tools that are stored in a special drawer.
Good Times Table TalkMealtime is perfect for family conversation as long as you don’t expect it to be perfect. Keep in mind that after a long day, school may be the last thing they may want to talk about at the table. Try using mealtime for sharing stories about things unrelated to school or work. Engage your children in conversation that excites them and give yourself an opportunity to learn more about their other interests. For fun, you might even try asking some questions that engage their imagination. Conversation guaranteed!