1. The only thing kids love more than pulling things off the shelves at the grocery store is outright theft – and when your little ones are grumpy and starving, those are two great tastes that taste great together! Make a game of stealing a full seven-course dinner from the local supermarket; ease into it by starting with the free samples if you like, but the real fun is in racking up the calories and the savings with trips to the bulk food aisle (pro tip: macadamia nuts are full of heart-healthy, monosaturated fats and cost more per ounce than heroin!) and the seafood counter (with a little teamwork, handfuls of nutritious, delicious pre-cooked shrimp are easier to nab than you’d think!). And for a fun but responsible dessert, try making a Greek yogurt bowl with fresh berries and a drizzle of honey.
2. In today’s hectic world, full of overprogrammed kids and stressed-out mommies and daddies, we seldom take the time to drop in unexpectedly on friends and neighbors at dinnertime. You may be fresh out of exciting new culinary ideas, but it’s a good bet somebody you know is trying out a brand-new recipe right now! If the idea of showing up and waiting to be fed strikes you as rude, just train your little ones to moan “I’m starving” on demand. (Shouldn’t be so hard, am I right, parents?) Or, for a never-gets-boring variation, show up with a side dish of kale, and pretend to be astounded that the hosts forgot your dinner date.
3. Sometimes, it’s best to let the kids take control – and it’s never too early to instill positive eating habits or self-confidence in the kitchen. You may be familiar with the famous experiment in which a bunch of unwanted babies were allowed to pick their own food from a wide variety of choices – but if you’re not, guess what? Those lil’ darlings instinctively fed themselves a balanced, healthy diet, and your kids will do the same if you give them free rein to play “family cook.” Sure, dinner might consist of corn chips dusted with powdered sugar or peanuts with tomato paste and mustard for the first few nights, but keep your cool and stay the course, and you’ll be amazed at the creative, nutritious meals your little angels will be whipping up in only a few short months!
4. Halloween is a perfect excuse to trick and treat the picky eaters in your family! Plan a gross-out Halloween dinner, blindfold the kids, and pass around bowls of “witches’ hair” (spaghetti with olive oil), “zombie brains” (raw pig intestines from your local butcher will do just fine) and “monster snot” (regular snot works great). After they’ve touched, make them taste – surprise! The mix of delicious, disgusting and downright poisonous will keep them on their toes. By the time you remove the blindfolds and let them choose between the Halloween meal and the mystery casserole in the oven, they’ll be clamoring for tuna-noodle! But surprise again – it’s really fish heads, nougat and non-toxic paint! Mwahaha! Who doesn’t love Halloween?
5. We all know the dangers of fast food – obesity, heart disease, diabetes, weigh gain, instant death, eyeballs growing on your gums, deforestation, getting fat – but darn it if those world-crushing corporations don’t have a formula that works! For all the fun and none of the guilt, have a “fast food night” at home! Baked French fries with olive oil and sea salt are 65 percent as delicious as the conventional kind, and 90 percent healthier – and an organic, grass-fed burger tastes almost as good as a frozen, industrially corn-stuffed, fecal-matter-and-antibiotic-laced one. But to really bring the concept to life, divide the family into customers and employees, get out the old Monopoly money, build a cardboard register, draw menus and take turns “paying” for the meals! Then, pay the employees minimum wage, intimidate them if they try to unionize, and refuse to give them enough hours to earn benefits. Don’t be surprised if the kids want it to be “fast food night” … every night!