Family-style dining is most seen in the home and childcare settings. What is it? Family-style dining is a method of dining where all the meal components are placed in large serving dishes and set on a table for those eating to serve themselves. Some common practices for family-style dining include:

This style of meal service has more benefits for kids than you might expect! Some benefits of family-style dining include:

According to Annie Jacobson, a dietitian manager at Sanford Health, "Getting children involved is a great way to teach them about nutrition. When parents allow kids to be a part of grocery shopping and preparing meals, it helps them gain confidence and develop skills that teach the importance of healthy eating. Providing healthy options and teaching kids how to make healthy choices is key to ensure they have a healthy lifestyle in the future."

Why do caregivers like family-style meals? “Family-style dining allows kids of all ages to participate and learn from the meal experience. Younger kids will need guidance at the start but are sure to pick up on the process quickly by learning from older siblings' or caregivers' modeled behavior,” Annie says. 

Family-style dining also provides an opportunity to connect with other kids and adults. If you’re interested in adding more connection to your mealtime, try one of these:

Ready to get started? Here are some tips to implement family-style dining in your environment:

If you’re out to eat in a restaurant setting, you can still implement family-style dining! Allow children to help decide on their meal from the menu and practice ordering the meal by themselves.

And don’t forget, patience is key. If family-style dining is a new thing for your family or group, it’s going to take time for your kids to get used to the process.

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