Picky Eater Solutions: Scheduled Meals and Family Table

Today’s fast paced lifestyle has made family meal times erratic. With most parents juggling career and family life, not much time and thought is put into making healthy dishes.

Here, we will explore why having a regularly scheduled family meal time and place is beneficial and give tips on how to make this possible.


Why it Helps

For many aspects of life, having structure helps everything be efficient. This is especially true when it comes to feeding your child. It fills them with a sense of security with both the environment and food. It helps mainly to regulate their hunger and stop eating when they are full. Also, when combined with a nutritious meal, they grow up well and have less illnesses along the way. Since they will be less ill, have better brain power, and are more independent, it gives parents the ability to be less overbearing.1, 2 


Easy Meal Scheduling Tips

When it comes to planning, the plan that your child can adapt to easily should be a priority. That is why flexibility is key and just because it works for other people’s children, it may not be suitable for your child. 


  1. Plan the place first
    If your house plan allows it, set a comfortable meal place in the kitchen, dining room, or a fold out table in the living room so that your child knows where to come when it is meal time. This is not only for your child, you as a parent have to be there and eat. You can change the location if the situation requires it, but let your child know that it is an exception and do not do it often. 3, 4
  2. Set the time
    Breakfast at 7:00 am, Lunch at 1:00 pm, and Dinner at 6:30 are suggested times. This will change as the child grows older so, adopting an easily interchangeable schedule is beneficial. It depends on each individual child, but the 3 meals a day applies all the same with 2 to 3 snack sessions. Snack sessions should be about 3 to 4 hours from main meals. Meal times may be deviated, but make sure it is not less or more than 30 minutes from the original time. 3, 4
  1. Have several menu rotations
    Even as adults, when we are bored with a particular food, we turn to snacks and they usually are not nutritionally valuable. By having rotations, you know what is stock at home, creates less waste, and your child most definitely looks forward to their favorite one. There may be times when your child will be more interested in the snack sessions so make sure to pack those with nutrient dense options. 3, 4


After all the planning, scheduling, and cooking, you must try to remove the thought of forcing your child to fit in the way you want them to. You will always be in a power struggle and cause bad eating habits. Create opportunities for kids to make choices. The goal is not just to get them to eat, but to make them want to eat and regulate their own appetite.1, 2       



  1. https://pediasurearabia.com/ae/en/child-nutrition/fun-with-nutrition/follow-set-meal-and-snack-time-schedule
  2. https://pediasurearabia.com/ae/en/child-nutrition/fun-with-nutrition/create-a-family-table-and-model-enjoyable-eating
  3. https://nutritioninbloom.com/blog/2019/4/5/how-scheduling-meals-and-snacks-can-help
  4. https://jillcastle.com/childhood-nutrition/meal-schedule-without-controlling/