In the June 2011 issue of Disney’s Family Fun magazine, I came across a great idea to get my child to sample new food.
An article in the magazine suggested encouraging kids to critique the restaurant as if they were a professional restaurant critic.
The kids graded the restaurant’s food, service, menu, and decor and they had a great time doing it.
Not only did it get kids excited about trying new foods, it also helped them develop critical thinking skills and practice their writing.
I thought it was a fantastic idea – after all, school-age children are nothing if not critical!
If your budget is tight and you can’t splurge on restaurant meals as often as you’d like, you can easily modify this activity for meals at home.
First, set up the ground rules. I suggest NOT making every meal an exercise in criticism. I know my cooking confidence would deteriorate. Set aside one night or one meal when the kids will play professional critic.
Second, use the meal as an opportunity to try a new recipe or food item that you’d love to have the kids try. You can develop the meal around one country or culture or cuisine. But give yourself plenty of time to put it all together.
Third, I recommend taking decor and service out of the equation. Let the kids judge you on your menu – for added fun, type it up on the computer and add some clipart – and the food itself. No one wants to hear their child/restaurant critic complain that there are dirty dishes in the sink, ruining the ambiance.
Finally, after a few times when the kids play critic, turn the tables on them. Instruct them to develop a menu that you’ll help them prepare and that you will critique. It’s a great way to teach the kids how to give and receive constructive criticism.
The best part of the activity is that the meal is in the house, even if it’s not exactly on the house.