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 the Sanford CHILD Services Food Program Educator, Sarah Boese, "Getting children involved is such a good way to teach them about nutrition. Allowing children to help shop at the grocery store and help prepare meals gives them life skills that teach the importance of balanced and healthy meals. Teaching young children how to make healthy choices is a key building block to ensure they have a healthy lifestyle in the future."

Why do caregivers like family style meals? “My favorite part about family style dining is that children of all ages can participate and learn from the experience. Smaller children may need some meal components plated for them, but they are still able to learn from the older children's modeled behavior,” Sarah says.

Family-style dining also provides an opportunity to connect with other kids and adults. If you’re interested in adding more connection into 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. Do you have picky eaters? Don’t stress! Check out this article to learn more about feeding picky eaters.

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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