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Meaningful Meals: Buffet Style

Creating a “Build Your Own Plate” buffet can be a delightful and educational activity that not only makes mealtime fun but also encourages positive eating habits.  

 Here’s how you can set up and enjoy this activity with your young children! 

What You’ll Need: 

  • A variety of healthy ingredients, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, proteins, grains, dips, and spreads.  
  • Small bowls and plates 
  • Child-sized utensils and tongs 
  • A colorful tablecloth or placemats 
  • Serving trays or a large platter 

Setting Up: 

  1. Prepare the Ingredients: Wash, peel, and slice the fruits and vegetables. Arrange them in small bowls or on a large platter for easy access. 
  2. Arrange the Buffet: Set up a buffet-style spread on a low table or kitchen island where children can easily reach. Place the ingredients in an inviting and colorful manner. 
  3. Provide Utensils: Ensure there are child-friendly utensils and tongs available for serving. 
  4. For added fun: encourage your child to create some decorations for the buffet, create a “menu”, and even give your family buffet a name!   


The Activity: 

  1. Introduction: Explain to the children that they will be creating their own plates using the buffet. Emphasize the importance of trying a little bit of everything and making a colorful, balanced plate.
  2. Demonstration: Show them how to use the utensils to serve themselves. Demonstrate taking small portions to encourage them to try different foods without overwhelming them.
  3. Building Plates: Let the children start building their plates. Encourage them to be creative and make their plates as colorful as possible.
  4. Conversation: Use this time to talk about the different foods, their colors, textures, and tastes. Ask questions like, “What’s your favorite color on your plate?” or “Can you find something crunchy and something soft?”
  5. Enjoying the Meal: Sit down together to enjoy the meal. Praise their efforts and creations and engage in positive conversation about the food and the experience.


Benefits to Buffet Style: 

By turning mealtime into a playful, interactive experience, we can support positive eating habits and create a joyful atmosphere around food. This activity can become a cherished part of your family’s mealtime routine, making healthy eating a fun and engaging adventure for young children. Try it out at all mealtimes!!  

Here are some of the great benefits that come with buffet-style dining for young children. 

Promotes Independence: Children feel empowered by making their own food choices and serving themselves. 

Encourages Healthy Eating: Exposure to a variety of healthy foods in a fun setting increases the likelihood of trying new foods and developing a preference for healthy options. 

Enhances Fine Motor Skills: Using utensils and tongs to serve food helps develop fine motor skills. 

Fosters Creativity and Exploration: Building their own plates encourages creativity and curiosity about different foods. 

Strengthens Family Bonds: The shared experience of creating and enjoying the meal together strengthens family connections and makes mealtime a positive, enjoyable event.