Cafeterias everywhere are hopping on the Meatless Monday bandwagon. From elementary school to university, kids are, perhaps unwittingly, part of a meatless movement. Cutting processed or red meat out of your diet at least once a week helps manage your weight and reduces your risk of diabetes—plus, it’s good for the environment.
Meatless Mondays aren’t just for cafeterias, though. Bringing this tradition into your home encourages the healthy habit, and it sparks a conversation with your kids about healthy, clean living. Choosing recipes with healthy, protein-rich meat alternatives can become a fun family challenge, and meatless meals introduce your kids to new ways to eat their fruits and vegetables.
Meatless Monday isn’t the only way to get your kids involved in dinnertime; letting your children choose the recipe, or even the main ingredient, engages them, and includes them in the cooking process. The more invested they are in the meal choice, the more likely they are to try it, even if it has a few new ingredients.
One of our local partners, author of the House of Bedlam cooking blog, suggests encouraging your kids to choose one new vegetable a month and then working together to cook a meal that incorporates that vegetable. Simple traditions like this one get your family excited about food—even vegetables. And as most moms know, that’s no easy task.
Even if no new foods are on the table, make a habit of explaining what’s in your meal. If you made avocado chicken salad (yum), you might want to share some facts about avocados, the different ways we can eat them, and where they grow. You can even brainstorm other recipes with these ingredients, which makes choosing meals for the rest of the week even easier.
Dinners for big families can get complicated. Between fair-weather vegetarians, food allergies, and picky eaters, every meal choice includes at least a little bickering. Try choosing a meal that everyone enjoys, and commit one evening a month to making it together. Pizza and tacos are sure to please, easy to make, and even easier to spice up if you get bored.
Integrating traditions into your family’s dinnertime routine is a simple way to make meal times more meaningful. Adventures with your family—especially in the kitchen—keep you connected as a team and excited about spending time with each other.
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