Meatloaf is a staple of many dinner tables but families can get a little tired of the same old thing. Sure there are other ground beef recipes but meatloaf works with your busy schedule. So how can you make that American classic more exciting for your family? Here are some tips.

Put the love back into meatloaf!Credit:

1. Rename it.

Nothing repels like the word "meatloaf". Maybe it's because we're so familiar with the word or maybe because neither of the words "meat" or "loaf" really inspire us with adventure (or even specificity). Instead of calling it "meatloaf", why not simply change the name to baked beef (not as exciting but a little more specific) or Beef Cake (a little humorous) or Pirate Surprise (sounds more adventurous, doesn't it?).

2. Give it a new shape.

One of the problem of meatloaf is that it looks like, well, a loaf of meat. Your kids would dig into it if it looked like a dinosaur or a princess' palace or a spaceship… but that's hard to bake. You can change the shape of your meatloaf by baking it in a different shaped pan (like what you might make a cake in) – just make sure that it cooks thoroughly and evenly. An even easier way to make meatloaf fun is to bake it the traditional loaf first and then use cookie cutters to cut out the middles into fun shapes. (Save the unused edges for tomorrow's soup or stew). Your meatloaf will look so much more attractive when it's cut into stars, circles, half moons, or whatever other fun cookie shape you can find.

3. MIY (Meatloaf-it-yourself)

If you rely on some of the more traditional meatloaf ingredients, why not mix things up a bit. Choose a variety of ingredients – chopped vegetables, bacon bits, barbecue sauce – and allow each family member to make their own mini-loaf using select ingredients (within reason). Keep an eye on proportions but the kids will love customizing their own unique dinner and they'll look forward to eating "their" creations. Make it extra fun by having them name their own unique concoction.

4. Meatloaf in disguise

Kids love burgers and hate meatloaf. Yet, those two foods are close cousins. Why not slice up the meatloaf before everyone is seated at the table and serve up "baked burgers" on buns for a dinner kids will love. Treat it just like burgers and if they ask, just tell them that you decided to bake these burgers instead of fry them. They'll douse the meatloaf with catsup and mustard and no one will be the wiser (except you, of course!).

Kids are picky eaters and if you can get them to dig into their dinner instead of turning up their noses at it then it makes your job as a parent just that much easier… and who doesn't want that? These are 4 quick and easy (and fun!) ways to make meatloaf just a little more fun for the whole family. Who knows, they might end up ASKING for star-shaped Pirate Surprise more often.