Summer is fast approaching, and with it comes family dinners on your deck or patio. This year, try something new, like including the kids in the grilling process. It's a great opportunity to spend time together and get your children excited about eating a healthy meal.

Shake It

One way children, even the younger ones, can help you prepare your feast is by taking charge of the seasoning. You can place meat in a large Ziploc bag with all of the spices you are using as well as a bit of olive oil and give it to your child. She can than shake and dance her way to a tasty dinner, tossing the ingredients together for you to place on the grill. This works great for grilled veggies too. You simply place the chopped veggies (squash and zucchini work well) in the large Ziploc bag, and let your child shake it up.

Top It

Kids already love to decorate and play with their food, so let them use their artistic talents to help you with dinner. Use store bought pizza dough formed into 8-inch round, ¼-inch thick crusts to grill individual pizzas. After you have grilled the crust for about three minutes, let your children pick and place their favorite sauce, cheese, and toppings for their own pizza. Then just grill for three minutes more.

You can do the same with burgers. Let the kids pick and decorate their own burgers with tomatoes, pickles, cheese, lettuce, avocado, salsa, and more. They can even pick the seasonings that go on their burger, including putting some cheese on the inside!

Kabob It

Most kids will jump at the chance to eat food off a stick, but you can make sure it's healthy by creating your own kabobs for dinner. With a bit of help from you (depending on your children's ages), they can create praise-worthy meals using their favorite veggies, meats, and fruits in bite-size pieces. Just remember that skewer sticks are sharp and raw meat is not something for young children to play with. Be sure to provide plenty of supervision.

Children who learn how to prepare healthy, fun meals will grow into healthy, cooking adults who avoid fast food and take-out in favor of making a meal at home. And who knows, maybe one of your children will become a future Food Network star.