The dinner table should be a place for getting together. It should not be a battleground where the challenge is just getting your kids to eat what’s put in front of them.

How do you make foods that your kids like? Here are 5 simple ways to accomplish a home-cooked meal that appeals to my kids.

Involve them

If your children are old enough to be a part of the food prep process, encourage them. Involving your kid helps them buy in. It may not work every time, but my wife and I have gotten our kids to try different foods just by letting them help prepare dinner.

Create theme days

Kids like routines. At our house, Tuesdays are Taco Tuesdays. Tacoboats, nachos, or even a quesadilla with taco meat thrown in—we’ve done all these and more. And we all love it. Of course, it’s possible that a routine may become too routine. So you might have to shock the system now and then with something off the schedule. Switch it up! And most of all, have fun!

Cook it over fire

Kids like fire. I’ve made marinated chicken tenders in the oven that the kids haven’t touched. But when I cook the very same chicken on the grill, they devoured it. And grilling presents a new teaching opportunities: Let the kids help marinate, show them how to flip the meat, or let them bring out the utensils you need.

Big deal the meal

You don’t need to hang streamers or rent a bounce house. Just make the meal special. Make it into family movie night and match the meal to the movie. Celebrate a half birthday. Base the meal on a favorite book. Actual green eggs and ham, anyone?

—Creed Anthony
Creed is the editor of Tales from the Poop Deck