get kids eating vegetables - basket of vegetables

15 Tricks to Get Kids Eating Vegetables (And Other Good Food)

Vegetables and other good foods are one of the most important things we can do for our kids.  Without teaching them to lead a healthy lifestyle, they are at an increased risk of childhood obesity, diabetes, self esteem issues and more.  But if we can get kids eating vegetables we can help future generations lead long, fruitful lives.

As a mom, one of my goals is to raise healthy, productive kids.  I hope that is your goal too. But handing my kids pop, candy, cookies, white bread, etc, etc day in and day out will not achieve that goal.  So I have set out to change my lifestyle through clean eating like the Daniel plan and others have shown. And by changing my own life I hope to change my children’s lives.  For the better.

Why It’s Important to Get Kids Eating Vegetables

Do you want your legacy you leave to be here for many years?  Is it OK for the next generation to be sick and unhealthy? Do we want better for our kids?  I know I want better. I want our future to be led by a healthy generation. I want my kids to be able to teach my grandkids how to be healthy as well.

So why is it important to get kids eating vegetables?  Nutrients. Our bodies are basically an elaborately built collection of molecules.  These molecules are built of various chemicals our bodies rely on. If you could see the vast intricate chemical reactions going on everyday you would be amazed at the machines our bodies are.  But without the proper chemicals, aka nutrients, our bodies can’t run at peak efficiency. The machine breaks down.

Vegetable contain a variety of nutrients ranging from a multitude of vitamins, beta-carotene (good for your eyes), antioxidants, and more.  All of these things help our bodies, down to its cellular reactions, run efficiently. And don’t you want your kids’ body to run the best it can?

Risks of Unhealthy Eating Range From Childhood Obesity to Kids Diabetes

The harsh reality of the world we live in is more and more kids are facing lifelong illnesses like diabetes (type 2) and childhood obesity.  According to the CDC1, “In the United States, the percentage of children and adolescents affected by obesity has more than tripled since the 1970s.”  This number is staggering to me. And childhood obesity can have serious consequences.

Childhood obesity can have a range of effects on a kid.  Kids who are obese are more likely to suffer from psychological problems such as depression as well as medical issues ranging from type 2 diabetes to cardiovascular problems.2  So the effects of an unhealthy diet can be catastrophic.  I sure don’t want my young kids facing issues such as an early death due to heart attack.  Do you?

Joys of Healthy Eating

Boy eating ear of corn

If you get your kids eating vegetables and other good foods it has many benefits.  First off, there is something that happens in a person when you know that the meal you ate is life sustaining.  I can’t quite explain this one in a scientific fashion but the times I have made a really good wholesome meal containing numerous healthy vegetables and other foods, I feel different.  I am more positive and feel better about myself. This is just one benefit of eating healthy. Boosting your self esteem.

Another joy of healthy eating and being able to get kids eating vegetables is all the different flavors and colors you get to experience.  Real food is pretty and it comes from the ground, not a factory. I have experienced flavors that I didn’t know existed. And they weren’t man made.

Finally, the biggest joy of healthy eating is just what it sounds like.  Getting healthy. Knowing that what I’m putting into my body is life sustaining.  We can either choose foods that in essense kill us or those that help us. Vegetables and other healthy foods are just that, helpers.  The benefits are numerous.

So if you are like me you may have a desire to get kids eating vegetables.  To help the next generation lead a long healthy life. Here are 15 tips to get kids eating vegetables and asking for more.

15 Tips to Get Kids Eating Vegetables (and Other Good Food)

Make what they like

I put this as my number one tip because it really is one of the most important ones.  Make what your kids like. Bottom line. Now that isn’t saying you have to do that every single day if you want a little variety.  By all means, trying new things is also important, which I will discuss next. But if your kids absolutely love canned green beans, fix them for them.  Don’t just put broccoli in front of them everyday hoping they will magically fall in love with it and forget about their beloved beans.

I made this mistake which is why I’m telling you it’s important to keep what they love and just try new variations or other vegetables over time.  When we began a clean eating lifestyle about a year ago again I read where canned vegetables weren’t that great and you should just do fresh or frozen.  I agree that fresh and frozen may have more health benefits, but my kids weren’t used to them and therefore would leave them on their plate. It would be a battle to get them to eat the thing I knew they always liked.  Just because I didn’t think they should eat canned.

Looking back that was a huge error on my part.  I have eased up some now and we do have the occasional canned green beans or other canned vegetables (as long as there isn’t added sugar).  And when my kids find a can of green beans in the cupboards they jump for joy. Literally. So don’t get rid of vegetables they love completely. So get kids eating vegetables by letting them eat the kinds they like.

Make them try new things…more than once

Once you have established what they like, broaden their horizons by trying new things.  This may come with the inevitable battle but it will be worth it in the end. If they never try anything they will always like just the same old things.  Make a new dish or a twist on an old one and have them try some. Don’t be afraid to put a small amount on their plate and require them to eat a little. This part do what works for you and your family.  You could require them to eat everything on your plate or negotiate how many bites of it they must take.

After taking the number of bites they were told they still may not like what they were required to try and that’s OK.  Allow them to say they don’t like it. But if you liked it and if it was a healthy option don’t hesitate to make it again.  I do this often. My kids like broccoli made in boiling water with butter on it but they don’t like roasted or grilled that well.  That doesn’t stop me from making it that way though. And yes, they still have to eat some of it.

Hide the vegetables

Maybe this seems a little dishonest but if it works and gets the good stuff in them I say go for it! And, yes, I’ve done this.  There are a few things I have made that had vegetable or things in it my kids generally don’t like but they ate it, oblivious to the vegetables they contain.

For instance, I have made a spaghetti sauce that had shredded carrots in it.  I really enjoyed this homemade sauce and my kids ate it. Another dish I make is a Lebanese dish I grew up on called Mjadra.  It’s a dish containing lentils and rice, spices, and onions. My kids hate onions! But very rarely do they pick the onions out of Mjadra.  They usually eat them along with everything else and don’t even notice them. It’s a win-win.

So, if you have dish you can slip some chopped vegetables in give it a try.  What’s the worst thing that can happen? They find the veggies and pull them out or refuse to eat it.  I’m guessing it wouldn’t be the first time that has happened.

Don’t get stuck on one version

Another way to get kids eating vegetables is by not getting stuck on one version or way of cooking them.  Said another way, keep variety in your meals. If you always roast broccoli in the oven and your kids hate it, try cooking it another way.  Put it in a pot on the stove and steam or boil it, adding a little butter at the end. If you always have canned green beans give fresh a shot sometime.  

Also mix it up.  One night have green beans, the next some boiled broccoli, and then maybe have some roasted mixed vegetables before returning to the tried and true canned green beans.  By not having the same vegetable meal after meal, night after night, you will keep it fresh and hopefully not tire of them. I mean unless it’s ice cream or cookies who wants to eat the same thing day in and day out.

Go 80%

Raise your hand if you think trying to be perfect, eating healthy, clean foods 100% of the time will get kids eating vegetables.  My hand is down. Striving for perfection in today’s world will only lead to frustration and more than likely you will give up your endeavors.  Instead try to be healthy 80% of the time and let go the other 20%.

If your kids have eaten really well and had their veggies all week long, let them have a cookie on the weekend or better yet, bake cookies with them.  It’s better for them than the store bought cookies. But take the extras to work the next day so you and the kids aren’t indulging the entire next week.

Nonetheless, if you want to get kids eating vegetables make sure you allow them to still be kids and don’t expect perfection every meal and snack they have.  Do your best and don’t fret the rest.

A vegetable is a vegetable

Various vegetables

A vegetable is a vegetable.  I have come to accept this. We have been following the Daniel Plan as much as we can and in that they recommend limiting starchy vegetables.  I wholeheartedly agree with this. However if you’re wanting to get kids eating vegetables I would look at all vegetables equally. If they want corn and carrots, let them have both.  If they want broccoli and beets that’s even better.

As an adult I try and be mindful of trying to have a starch along with non-starchy vegetables.  I would always offer and ask my kids to eat both as well. But I also keep in mind that right now they are healthy and I would rather allow them 2 starchy veggies instead of them begging for seconds of meat, cheese, or worse yet sugar laden things.

Make a gradual change

This might be one left to common sense but it’s still worth mentioning.  My husband and I made this mistake so I’m hoping to caution others before they do as well.  When we began the Daniel Plan about a year ago he and I were both so excited we jumped right in a cleared out our pantry of all the processed foods we had been eating.  We had almost nothing left in the house it seemed. I’m not sure whether to laugh, cry or hide in embarrassment of how unhealthy we had been eating. But we got rid of it all quickly.

What we didn’t think of in our zeal was our kids, especially our youngest.  They were used to and liked all that junk food. Now it was gone. And they weren’t happy.  They wanted the foods back that they were used too. They hadn’t chosen to make changes but were along for the ride, and we were on the drop of the rollercoaster.  

Looking back if I could have a do over I would have eased into it more.  Now we are a little more laid back as far as things like “canned goods aren’t the devil”. So if you want to get your kids eating vegetables give it time and transition slow.  You may be excited but your kids may not be. Start by introducing new things slowly. Finding what everyone likes and dislikes as you go and adjust accordingly.

Be flexible

Don’t be a stick in the mud.  Be flexible. If you really want broccoli roasted on a sheet pan but your kid will eat it boiled in a pan.  By all means boil it! Make compromises that you can both agree on. Now there are some things that as the parent you shouldn’t compromise on such as cookies for dessert every night because they don’t want fruit.  But if you want them to eat apples everyday but they would rather have a pear, give them the pear. So keep a certain amount of flexibility in what you are making in order to get kids eating vegetables.

Let Grandma be Grandma

Let grandma be grandma is just that.  Allow grandma to spoil the kids a little (yes, you can set a few parameters).  But don’t make her only feed the kids what you allow at home. If grandma is a healthy eater then great! But if she isn’t, let her give them a cookie or piece of candy.  Now I’m not saying that sky’s the limit with this one. You can put your foot down and ask that she doesn’t send them home on a complete sugar high. Or load them up on only artificial dyes.  But give her room to enjoy her grandkids and give your kids room to make memories with grandma.

Get them in the kitchen

This is another big one.  Don’t be afraid to get your kids in the kitchen cooking good foods with you.  If they help in the process they will be more likely to eat the end product. You will also be spending quality time with them which they need.  Kids need more than just your guidance and nagging. They need your time. What little you may have of it. So break out the kitchen utensils and apron and teach them how to cook.

Be open minded yourself

Have you ever caught yourself turning your nose up at something.  We all do it but it isn’t a good way to get kids eating vegetables or other good things.  Lead by example. Show them that it is OK to try new things. In all honesty do you like someone telling you to do something but they aren’t willing to do it themselves.  If you don’t like that then why do you think your kids are going to want to eat something new.

These also means you need to try things you normally don’t eat.  And try it more than once usually. I have to admit, as a kid and even up to a few years ago I didn’t like broccoli.  At least not without the cheese sauce my mom always made. Broccoli has grown on me. Put it that way, but it’s not my first choice of vegetables.  But I would always take a helping because I required my kids to take and eat some. Now I like broccoli (well the florets, still don’t like the stems) and it’s one of my kids favorite vegetables.

So don’t rule out giving your kids something that may even be new to you.  You might surprise yourself and love it or even if it still isn’t your favorite your kids might love it.  Which leads me to my next tip…

Encourage them to try things you may not like

Even if you really don’t like something encourage your kids to still take a taste.  Everyone has a little different taste buds so something you might not like may taste really good to them.  But you won’t know unless they try it.

This actually happened to us just this past weekend.  My husband and I decided to try Kombucha. I knew kimchi and other fermented things were good for your stomach flora.  But had never found the courage to try anything like that. But I saw Kombucha on sale at our local store and decided I wanted to try it.  My husband was on board so we bought a couple. Needless to say it wasn’t our favorite. I couldn’t get past the sour, fermented taste. But we allowed our kids to try a little bit of it and they loved it.  

Since that day they have asked me to buy more.  They liked it that much. I did buy a little bit more and tried another brand and flavor different from the first ones.  I liked the new a bit better and they liked it even more.

Another example goes back to Mjadra (the Lebanese dish I mentioned earlier).  My kids love and will devour it. But, my husband hates it. (Yes, insert sad face).  But that doesn’t stop me from making it for them and myself when he happens to be gone for a meal.

Butter…Everything’s better with butter

Pats of Butter

Right!  Butter is the magic ingredient.  Now really, I would watch that you don’t completely overdo on this but don’t be afraid to use a little butter in your cooking.  That being said, use the real thing. Don’t fall for the margarine trap. I mean, have you ever looked at the ingredients in margarine?  If not you should, then go look at what’s in butter. Nuff said. Case closed.

We do use butter to help season and flavor our foods.  I use it when we boil broccoli, make foil pack veggies on the grill and for other things.  Do I go overboard? Probably sometimes. But I do try and do it in moderation as much as I can.  But, again, don’t be afraid to use a little.

As I was putting together this list of how to get kids eating vegetables I asked my own daughter what make vegetable good to her.  Hence this tip was born. The first and only word out of her mouth was “butter!” So there you go. It’s even a kid approved tip!

Don’t make a big deal out of it

If you want to get kids eating vegetables keep it small potatoes. Just as you shouldn’t make a huge deal about weight in front of your kids, don’t make a big deal about all the food changes you are making.  The more attention you draw to a new dish the more likely they are to start thinking about it and possibly making their mind up about it before it even hits their plate.  Keep things normal. Now, if they ask questions, be honest with them. I’m not saying to start lying to your kids for the sake of trying to hide something. But if they don’t ask what it is let them try it before saying what’s in it.  Give them a chance to decide by how it tastes rather than just by looks or because they don’t like such and such ingredient that is in it.

Ask them what they want

Straight out ask your kids what they want.  Don’t feel like you are the dictator and they are the minions.  They are just little humans that don’t have as much experience in life and you have to teach them.  So ask them what are their favorite vegetables. Find out what they might want for supper tonight or this week and plan meals with their input.  Make sure they have a chance to tell you what they want for fruit and other healthy snacks. Then buy them!

Every week I ask my family what sounds good for meals.  And if it’s doable I will make what they ask for. For instance, a few times when I’ve asked what they want my son has piped up “Pizza!”  I bet the first thought you had is “that’s not healthy.” And ya, there are healthier meals, but I still make it from time to time. The difference is I try to do homemade, not the processed frozen pizzas or fast food.  I make 100% whole wheat crust and top it with toppings that we like. So I still can give him what he wants, but a little healthier.

So give your kids some say in what your family eats but encourage them to pick from healthier options like carrots rather than crackers or fruit rather than cookies.

Building Good Habits Early

Get kids eating vegetables by starting early. Baby eating yellow pepper

So you can see, there are things you can do and try to get kids eating vegetables.  It’s not futile, but also not always easy so don’t give up. And the younger you start the better.  Introduce your infants to veggies when you start feeding them solid foods. I even made homemade veggies so I wasn’t having to give them the stuff from a jar.  I felt it was better for them.

If they learn to like beans and carrots as an infant then those flavors may stay with them as they get older.  Now by all means, make sure you don’t feed a baby raw carrots. Use common sense and give them the cooked pureed ones.  But start early.

And if your kids are older already it’s just fine.  Start now. Start today trying to introduce your kids new healthy options.  Even if it’s switching to wheat pasta instead of white pasta. They may not even notice the difference.  And if they do, go half and half the next time. But don’t give up.

Give your kids the gift of a long, healthy life.  Get kids eating vegetables and other good foods.  It’ll be worth it.

~Melissa

Disclaimer:  I am not a medical professional.  This is not meant for medical advice. If you have any health concerns please visit your doctor.

Refrences

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  “Childhood Obesity Facts”. https://www.cdc.gov/healthyschools/obesity/facts.htm. Accessed January 24, 2019.
  2. Krushnapriya Sahoo,1 Bishnupriya Sahoo,2 Ashok Kumar Choudhury,3 Nighat Yasin Sofi,4 Raman Kumar,5 andAjeet Singh Bhadoria6. “Childhood Obesity: Causes and Consequences”. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4408699/. 2015 Apr-Jun
Starting a Girl Scout Troop: Mother and daughter showing a strong mother daughter relationship with a hug.

Starting a Girl Scout Troop: The Benefits to Moms and Daughters

For the past  3 ½ years I have been a troop leader for my daughter’s Girl Scout Troop.  Besides being a mom and wife, it’s one of the most fulfilling jobs I’ve ever done.  Yes, I spend countless hours planning, organizing activities, fundraising, and working with kids that aren’t my own.  But seeing the faces of the girls, especially my own daughter, light up when we get to go to Great Wolf Lodge or do some other fun activity makes it all worthwhile.  The benefits to moms and daughters are immeasurable. As a leader you will not only be raising strong girls but also strengthening your own mother daughter relationship.   That is why I want to tell you a little bit about starting a girl scout troop.

Why Starting a Girl Scout Troop is Beneficial to the Mother Daughter Relationship

Starting a girl scout troop gives you valuable time with your daughter in many ways. You will be able to show her what being a strong woman is all about.  The qualities of leadership will shine through the woman she probably looks up to most. You. Rather than sending her off to another activity taking up precious family time you will be giving her your time.  Showing her how you value her and want to be part of her life. By starting a girl scout troop you will be showing your daughter what raising strong girls and being one looks like. Here are some other benefits I have found as a troop leader:

Quality Time

 Leading my daughter’s troop has allowed me to spend time I would normally be just dropping her off with someone else.  We have connected through meetings and trips, some with the whole troop and some as mother daughter events.

Leadership

 I am setting what I believe is a great example for my daughter.  I’m showing her how to lead. She can see what it takes to be a leader, the time, the commitment, and hopefully become a great leader herself.

Fun

This one is huge.  My daughter and the other girls in her troop work hard for the money they earn through girl scout cookie sales.  Those sales not only allow me to buy badges and supplies for the girls from troop funds but also to go do fun things.  Last summer I took the girls in my troop on a trip to Great Wolf Lodge for 2 nights and we went camping at one of our state parks for 2 nights.  These were awesome things to do with her. Memories we will both cherish that would not have happened if I wasn’t her leader.

How to Start a Girl Scout Troop

Two girls on steps

First and foremost, you need to make the commitment to start.  Once you have made that decision the rest gets easier. To start a troop you can do the following steps:

  1. Go online and register as a volunteer.  You will need to sign up for Girl Scouts. Yes, adults can be scouts and must register so a background check can be completed to ensure safety for the girls.  You can either go to your local councils website or go here if you don’t know who your council is. If you follow the link click on the volunteer tab. If you go to your council’s website go to the volunteer tab.  Then click volunteer now fill out the form and pay for the registration fee.
  2. Once you have registered, your local council should reach out to you and help give you guidelines specific to your area.
  3. Figure out a meeting time and location.  If your council doesn’t help with this you will need to seek out a place to hold meetings.  I recommend you don’t do them at your home. Find a church, community center, school or other public place that will let you meet there, hopefully for free.  Most troops start with zero funds so if you are charged for the location you will have to pay for it.
  4. Find a Co-Leader.  As you get to know parents of the girls you could ask one of them or find a friend willing to step up and help.  This is important and a rule set forth by GSUSA so be thinking about another adult you would want to share this adventure with.  And to be honest, if you can recruit a few other adults as helpers that is even better.
  5. Once you have found a meeting location and time, registered, and have a co-leader, all that is left to do is plan and lead your first meeting.

Potential Obstacles When Starting a Girl Scout Troop

Standing on wooden bridge

As with anything, when starting a girl scout troop there are potential obstacles.  Here are some of the obstacles I have come across and how I solved them.

Time 

With the chaos of busy schedules time is not always on a person’s side, including mine.  It is a commodity we can’t afford to waste. So how do I solve the problem of time? I make time work for me.  As much as I can anyway. When I scheduled our troop meetings I found a time that worked in both my schedule and my co-leaders.  End of story. I didn’t worry about whether every girl could make every meeting. Ya, I wish I could, but since I can’t I do what is best for my family.

Also, give the time you can and don’t beat yourself up for what you can’t do.  Starting a girl scout troop may seem easy and really it is. But it does take time to plan meetings, lead meetings, etc.  So don’t burn yourself out or get overwhelmed. Ask for advice from other leaders on how they do it. Make pinterest your friend, I did.  And remember, it doesn’t have to be perfect. They will remember the good times and experiences, not the small flubs along the way.

 Co-Leaders  

This may or may not be a challenge for you.  If it isn’t that is awesome. You’re set. On the other hand, if you are like me finding a good co-leader is like finding a diamond in the rough.  The first year I started I struggled to find a co-leader I could trust. Most parents had so many other commitments they just didn’t have the time or desire to step up as a co-leader.  

After the 1st year, I found an amazing co-leader. She does an excellent job. We began co-leading for each other as I was in need of someone and so was she. She was starting a new troop and I had my existing troop.  Now we have grown enough that she has added another co-leader and I’m looking at adding another one as well. Yes, we are still sister troops but between the two troops have grown to having 4 co-leaders and four different levels.  

So, finding a good co-leader is vital, not only to follow the rules, but to take some of the burden off of you.  Some suggestions to find a good co-leader when starting a girl scout troop are ask parents to volunteer. This one is a gamble as you may get someone great and yet you may not. You could also ask a friend.  I see this alot. Even if the friend doesn’t have a daughter in the troop. It seems to work well and is what I did heading into my second year of leading. Finally, you could talk to parents you trust after you have gotten to know them a little bit.  This has also been successful but the downside is it takes time to get to know them and decide if they would be a good fit for you.

 Money

In my council, troops start out with a bank account.  But that balance is generally $0. Unless you are fortunate enough to inherit money from a troop that is discontinuing.  Now I can’t speak for all councils on this one. But if you don’t get money to start you will have to pay for everything out of your pocket.  This does stink but there are ways to compensate for it.

  • Plan meetings requiring very little in supplies.  Yes, you can find meetings such as the brownie games badge among others that don’t require a lot of extra supplies and just require different activities.
  • Charge troop dues.  For new troops this may be a good option.  I would recommend charging a monthly or yearly amount rather than weekly.
  • Ask parents to buy supplies for different meetings.  This one will depend on whether families within your troop can afford the items, but you could always ask.  And if you go on an outing make parents pay for it rather than the troop.
  • Do Fundraisers.  Check with your council before starting these though. Each council has different rules but if you do something extra.  And be ready to sell girl scout cookies.

Location

This can be another tough one.  You can always ask your local council person what they recommend if you don’t have a place in mind.  As I mentioned above, I would be cautious if you are thinking of doing it out of your home unless it’s only temporary.  Too many things could go wrong. Some places you might consider asking if your troop could meet is:

  • Your church or another church that works with the community.
  • A community center.
  • Your local library.
  • The school your daughter attends

Parents

You read that right.  One obstacle can be parents themselves.  Some like to take advantage of the system and will see you as a free babysitter.  Others may not want to register as an adult helper but will want to stay and “hang out” at every meeting, which is not OK.  But don’t let these things scare you away. On the whole, parents are very supportive, and I have found the difficult ones daughters tend to leave the troop after a short while.  Then you are left with the parents who are supportive of your efforts and those you should be grateful for.

Planning Meetings

This isn’t a huge obstacle but for a novice or someone just considering starting a girl scout troop can seem daunting.  But don’t let it scare you away. There are many resources out there to help you plan. Here are a few of them.

  • Other leaders.  If you connect with others in your area or online you can always ask for meeting ideas.  
  • Volunteer Toolkit.  This is something Girl Scouts recently released in the past couple years.  They have meetings all planned out that you can drop into your meeting day and just follow their plan down to the words to say.
  • Girl Scout Guides.  These are the hard copy books that tell you the requirements for each badge the girls can earn.  I like these cause I can see the goal and they give choices to pick from so I’m not set with one thing.  It allows me to do what I think will work best for my troop.
  • Pinterest.  This one is awesome.  If you search a badge you can find how others have completed the steps and follow what they did.  

Looking at the list of obstacles may make you run for your life.  But please don’t let it. All these things have solutions and when you find them as you start up everything falls into place.  Then the benefits for yourself and your mother daughter relationship will outweigh any and all of these.

Raising Strong Girls

Raising Strong Girls: Girl backpacking on trail in forest

When starting a girl scout troop and continuing one you are raising strong girls of tomorrow.  Girl scouts has a motto right now and that is the acronym G.I.R.L. This stands for Goal getter, Innovator, Risk taker, and Leader.  By being a troop leader you have the opportunity to influence girls in all these ways by setting goals to earn badges, go on trips, or achieve what they want in the troop. You can help them learn to create and be an innovator.  They can take safe risks through cookie sales, camping, and other outdoor activities. And they are able to be a leader by selecting the things they want to do within the troop. You see, girl scout is girl led. Meaning they are supposed to be the ones selecting what they want to do.  And I do that as much as I can within my troop.

So I encourage you to strengthen your own mother daughter relationship by starting a girl scout troop.  You will be influencing the girls of today to be the leaders of tomorrow. And isn’t that our goal as moms anyway?

~ Melissa

If you are looking for more great ways to spend time with your kids and family be sure to check out my post “The 15 Best Board Games for Family Night

Best Board Game - Game of Life

The 15 Best Board Games For Family Night

I have to admit, since I was little one of my absolute favorite things to do is play games.  Think about it, what kid doesn’t like a good game? I have fond memories of family game nights as a kid and now I have begun the same tradition with my own kids.  Some of the best board games I played as a kid still remain my favorites, along with a few that are new to the scene.

So I have put together my favorites, some new and some old, to play with the family.  Although Candy Land, Chutes and Ladders, and other such board games are great, let’s be real and admit most adults play them for their children’s sake.  These games are ones that adults and kids alike will love. Games that engage you in strategic play to keep mom and dad entertained but simple enough the kids can enjoy it.

With that, here are 15 of the best board games for family night…

1. Splendor

Splendor is one of my absolute favorite games!  This is one of the best board games for families because there is an element of strategy involved but there is also a large amount of chance.  You can plot and plan your moves, but if the cards don’t turn up right, your strategy won’t work out. This keeps it fairer for kids playing as they may just be learning the art of strategizing so it evens the playing field a bit.  If you want to know my thoughts and a little more detail on the game play please read my post about Splendor. And if you are interested in Splendor check it out here.

2. Monopoly Gamer

Monopoly Gamer is next on my list of the best board games for family night.  My kids learned how to play it about a year ago when their cousins got it for Christmas. Fast forward a year and my 7 year old was asking for it.  His grandmother got it for him so we began playing it the week following Christmas. It quickly became a new favorite of mine and the whole family.

The game play is very different than classic monopoly but still has the same feel of Monopoly, if that makes any sense. Lol!   But the twist on the game using the Mario characters and the Mario video game ideas of collecting coins and fighting bosses makes it unique and very fun. The only downfalls I have found are sometimes you lose so bad you wish you could declare bankruptcy and I wish it supported more than 4 players.  Other than that, this is a must have for a family game collection. If you would like to add it to your game library take a look here.

3.  Pictionary

Pictionary has long been one of my favorite games to play.  When I mentioned the family game nights I had as a kid, well, this was one of the games we often played.  My dad and I would team up against my mom and brother.  Although, looking back, it probably wasn’t the most fair set up as my dad and I were the more artistically inclined (at least in a drawing sense) and we had a keen sense of knowing what the other was drawing. Boy was it a good time, though. Pictionary remains one of the best board games out there.

So now as an adult I still have a love of the game. On New Year’s Eve we were getting over a virus going around our family so we kept a low profile and just had my mom over for the evening. My 10 year old voted to play Pictionary.  So we did. She and I were a team against my husband, my mom and my son. It was like deja vu as my daughter and I connected just as my dad and I did all those years ago.

This is a very fun fast paced game. You don’t have to be a master artist to have a good time at this one.  It is a bit difficult for younger children to play but there are ways around that. Once when we played just as a family I became the all time drawer while my husband, daughter and son played against each other. This evened the playing field a little since my youngest isn’t quite capable of drawing well enough to make it fair.  Pictionary is a great family game.

If you want to get your hands on the vintage 1990s version my family was playing check here. However, if you want the most updated version check out this version of Pictionary. Just a disclaimer, I have never played the most recent version of this game. Only the vintage 1990s version. If you get the new version feel free to share what you think of it!

4.  King of Tokyo

King of Tokyo is another awesome board game.  It is on my list of best board games because once again it can offer some strategic play but there is a huge element of chance.  I mean, who can predict the roll of dice. I know I can’t unless I cheat which I don’t condone. Imagine King of the Hill meets Yahtzee and you have King of Tokyo.  If you would like to know a little more about King of Tokyo take a look here. If you would like to get your hands on King of Tokyo go here.

5.  Yahtzee

This may go without saying but Yahtzee is another of our favorite family games.  For another game that has been around for quite awhile it never loses its appeal.  By rolling 5 dice and figuring out the best way to score the points, all while taking the chance of rolling 5 of the same number, you have a winning game.  Kids of almost any age can begin learning how to play Yahtzee and with adult help decide the best way they want to score points. And what adult doesn’t like a game of chance and exhilaration if you get to yell: “Yahtzee!” If you would like to get Yahtzee go here.

6.  Scattergories

One of the best board games ever made: Scattergories.  This game is great for so many different reasons. The game play can be as short or as long as you  want. It comes with several different lists so you could play one list or all of them. The answers may be funny or serious, sky’s the limit with this one!  

For those that don’t know, this is a word game. You are given a list of categories, a lettered dice is rolled, and you have a limited time to write something down for each category starting with the letter that was rolled.  This was my other favorite board game from my childhood.

I remember playing this around the kitchen table a few times, and having a few arguments over the legitimacy of a word. Oh the fond memories… That being said, this one is a really fun family game but for really young kids would be difficult.  So this one is a great game for parents and older kids who can read well and reason.

If you would like to have your own Scattergories game take a look here. Or if you really want to feel nostalgic you can get one of these vintage versions of Scattergories as well. This was the version from my childhood.

7.  Monopoly and Monopoly Jr.

Monopoly and Monopoly Jr are next on the list.  Yes, I combined these because really they could be interchanged.  I love Monopoly Jr because it enabled my kids to play Monopoly at a pretty young age.  They began playing Monopoly Jr below the age of 5 and really enjoyed it. To this day they still like to play the Jr version of Monopoly.  

But in recent years, now that they are a bit older, we broke out the full version of Monopoly and began teaching it to them. Some of the strategic moves such as making trades, auctioning properties, and gaining monopolies is still a bit difficult for my kids, especially my youngest.  That being said, we haven’t played the full version a ton of times. Once we play it a few more times they will catch onto the finer points of the game. So whether you have young kids or older ones, Monopoly and Monopoly Jr are must have family games.

8.  Risk

Risk is another game from my childhood.  It has a nostalgic quality to it and I hadn’t played it for years until just recently.  It was at that moment I remembered that I truly liked it and missed playing it. Risk was one of those games I grew up watching my dad and brother play, being told I wasn’t quite old enough for it.  Once I was a bit older, old enough to strategize a bit, I began playing with them. Now that I’m grown with my own family, Risk remains one that I enjoy. It has a definite quality of strategy and luck of the dice, making it one worth playing.  With the element of chance that is involved and a little help from adults this is one kids and adults could both enjoy.

If you want to give risk a go you can check out the vintage 1950s version here. Something about the little blocks brings back a flood of memories for me! On the other hand the new version has army figures and a few variations. You can take a look at it here.

9.  Sorry

Sorry is another game that packs a lot of memories.  Sitting around the table with my grandma and brother playing Sorry.  One of those games that just puts a smile on my face thinking about all the times I played it with family.  Moving around the board, knocking others off, trying to get “home”. This is another classic that everyone should have.  

Once again, if you would like the vintage version of the game check this out. If you would rather have the most recent version go here.

10. Sequence

Sequence is another on my best board games list because it combines card games and a board game.  I have yet to introduce my own family to it but it was a favorite growing up. Another my grandma loved that we spent many a night playing when we would go visit.  Sequence is played by playing a card and putting a chip on the corresponding place on the game board. The goal is to get 5 in a row in 2 different spots. It is simple enough for kids to learn but does possess a strategic element that makes it fun for all ages. If you want to have your own Sequence game to try take a look here.

11.  Codenames Disney

Codenames Disney is one I don’t personally own.  There, I said it. But, I was introduced to it through my brother and absolutely loved it.  We had spent the evening with my brother and sister in law and following dinner went back to their place and played Codenames Disney.  It was a blast. I would love to play this with my family. I think it would make a great addition to any family’s game night collection. You don’t have to know or have seen all the movies, just come up with a creative way to describe the pictures.  This one is definitely one of the best board games around due to the gameplay and nostalgic feel it brings with the movies on the cards. You can get it here.

12.  Mexican Train Dominoes

Mexican Train Dominoes is another great family game.  We began playing this one last Christmas after it was given to us and really enjoy it.  It is very easy to understand how it works and anyone can play and enjoy it despite their age.  Just beware, sore losers may not enjoy this one when you get stuck with 100+ points in one round.  Lol! Spoken from getting stuck bad and the game not going as you’d like. But it doesn’t make it any less fun. Just one that is left to chance. You can get a set of Mexican Train Dominoes here.

13. Clue

Who doesn’t love a good Whodunit or mystery? I know I do.  If you do then Clue is a must have and among the best board games of all time.  I loved moving from room to room to figure out who killed Mr. Boddy. Now my daughter has taken up the magnifying glass and gets a kick out of trying to solve the mystery.  It is a great family game as there is plenty of room for multiple players and adults and kids alike can get into the action of trying to figure out the solution.

With all the different versions out there these are the 2 I would recommend. Either this retro version. Or this more updated version that keeps the nostalgic qualities of the classic game.

14. Ticket to Ride

The first time I played Ticket to Ride I didn’t realize how much fun I would have.  It is a very unique game where you gather different colored train cards to connect a route across the United States.  You are attempting to connect routes that are in your hand. The person who scores the most points through connecting their trains and routes at the end of the game wins.  It’s simple enough for even younger children such as 5-7 years olds to start grasping, but challenging enough for adults to enjoy. So this is one that I would highly recommend trying if you haven’t. You can get it here.

15.  Life (The vintage version)

The game of Life.  It’s a classic. This is one though that I will admit you want the vintage version.  Or at least a remake of it. The new one that was made in the last 5-10 years just isn’t the same.  But if you can find the version made in the late 1980s I highly recommend it. It is a game of moving through different things that can happen in life including getting a job, having kids, and encountering good and bad things in life.  The person with the most money wins. Again, kids can grasp the gameplay and it shows them decision making in a game setting. At the same time it isn’t so “kiddish” that adults can’t enjoy it.

If you can’t find this one in your local flea market or your parents basement take a look at this vintage version. Or you could even try this new “retro” version too!

So there you have it…The best board games for family night. Happy gaming!

~Melissa

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Photo by Randy Fath on Unsplash