Rules For Success When Adding New Foods To Your Family Mealtime
It can be difficult changing what you eat.
Challenging ourselves to expand our food choices can be confronting. Most people have staples and recipes that get re-run each week over many years. These foods and recipes have become emotionally meshed into family mealtime enjoyment, so it might feel overwhelming to change things and add different foods and recipes to your dinner table.
You might be worried the rest of your family won’t like the foods and resist trying new things. Or you might not be confident going outside your comfort zone in the kitchen, and using ingredients you are not familiar with.
There are a multitude of benefits to trying new foods.
Benefit 1 – You get to enjoy new tastes and recipes, and may come across foods that will become lifetime favourites.
Benefit 2 – Eating widely gives you the best chances of getting a varied range of nutrients in your diet.
Benefit 3 – Experimenting in the kitchen will mean you expand your cooking repertoire and become a Master Chef!
Benefit 4 – You get to add more and more plant-based meals to your diet, resulting in improved health and wellbeing for all.
Rules for success:
Don’t make a big deal of the new food you are introducing. Sometimes proclaiming you are serving up something so different to what your family usually eats, will meet with resistance and hesitation. Sometimes people will make a decision on a new food before they have even tried it.
Try not to introduce too many new things at once. Team up new foods with something the family already know and love. I recommend adding new things to your family meals slowly and incorporating them into something with familiar elements. For example – if tacos are a regular meal then perhaps switch up the filling to black bean and mushroom rather than beef mince, but keep the rest of the ingredients the same first time around. Once you’ve had success with this then perhaps next time serve the same meal but put some cashew cream on the table for people to try lavished on their tacos, rather than sour cream. Within a few meals, your taco dinner will be plant-based.
Make sure you taste the food prior to serving it so you can vouch for it. Always try new foods before you serve them. By tasting and enjoying the new food you can be an excellent advocate for it at the dinner table.
Make a habit of trying new things. Explore food widely and introduce new plant-based things to the table often. If you do this your family will be used to seeing and trying new things and less likely to be resistant. Also, don’t be too strict on making everyone finish an entire serving. If they try a new food without the pressure of having to eat it all, they are more likely to confidently try it again, and possibly begin to enjoy it.
Be a role model and eat well. I cannot express this enough. It is very important that your family see you eating and enjoying the plant-based foods you serve. Make mealtimes a special time for you all to sit together and connect as a family. Lead by example and show your family how to eat wholesome, nutritious, plant-based food.
Shop and cook together. Getting kids to participate in the shopping and cooking of meals will make them more likely to eat them. Get your children to search for plant-based recipes online that they’d like to try and give them a go (check out 100s of easy and delicious recipes at veeforlife.com).
Timing is everything. Firstly, make sure your family is actually hungry when you serve new foods and tastes as they will be more ready to enjoy it. On the whole, hunger makes food very enjoyable. Secondly, do not expect your family to try something new when they are not themselves (by this I mean they might be tired, unwell, stressed, distracted or overly emotional). Serving up something new on a Thursday evening, when your kids have been doing sport for 2 hours and just want to fill their tired bodies with some pasta, might not be the night to deliver a lentil dahl for the first time.
Careful what you say. Think about how you word things. Be enthusiastic and grateful for your food. Enthusiasm is contagious so share it around the table. Also, in some circles, there is quite some stigma and ridicule attached to vegan and plant-based foods. If you are introducing a new food it is probably wise not to label it as plant-based or vegan at the onset. Food doesn’t need labels – it either tastes good or it doesn’t – and if you serve up something delicious I’m sure your family will enjoy it regardless of whether it contains animal products or not.
Remember, new flavours and smells often require multiple exposures to elicit a positive association. Children may need to try something ten to 15 times before they like it. Persevere with plant-based change and in the end your family will get on board and love it (and will be healthier too)!
Great site. I think you euphemistically as they say ‘Hit the nail on the Head’ with your heading ‘Rules for Success when adding new food etc…’ Also your subheading – ‘Careful what you say’ – In my experience I have noticed when speaking to my friends about food and diet, it’s best not to put labels on my eating habits and they eventually say, “I’ll give that dish a try”. Bingo! They have ventured away from their every day eating dishes. Another great Vee for Life blog.