I love a cookout. Who doesn’t? Burgers, hot dogs, and watermelon. AND I don’t have a million pots and pans to clean up after. So there is that. But there is one thing I don’t love about a cookout. The amount of food my kids eat. Not enough. Don’t get me wrong, if we are doing a cookout every once in a blue moon, who cares if they eat half a hot dog, some chips and a marshmallow. However, when we are spending a week eating outside in the great outdoors – this isn’t going to fly.
I could spend the entire meal harping on them to take a few more bites or eat a little more fruit, or I could just make a few simple changes and let the progress happen naturally. I think I will do the latter.
These simple changes help increase the amount of food your child will eat while decreasing the stress of what should be a fun outdoor meal!
- Avoid picnic tables. They are the worst. Their legs dangle, they fall backwards. I am in my 30s and am still struggling with these benches! If you have the option for a kids sized table and chairs, great, if not, throw down a blanket or towel and let them eat picnic style!
- Buffet style is best for a cookout. I am a big fan of family style in the home, but when we are outside, I prefer the buffet approach. Research shows that children eat better when they see adults and peers they trust taking food from the same dish.
- Go easy on filling up their plate. Instead of a huge helping of pasta salad, give them a few noodles. When kids feel overwhelmed with new foods or huge amounts, they are more likely to just not eat at all. If they want more, they can always make a run for seconds!
- Give them a little grace. Eating outside isn’t normal. So they are not going to eat normally. If they eat a little less or claim they don’t like the hot dog they typically wolf down, it is okay. They have very important things to get back to, like kicking pinecones and catching ants!