Today, September 24th is National Eat Dinner with your Family Day. I am a HUGE proponent of families spending more time in the kitchen and around the table together to connect, laugh and create memories. In honor of today’s “holiday” I wanted to share some of my past posts on how to schedule more family dinners together and how to have more fun once you’re gathered. Are you planning on eating together as a family tonight?
If you aren’t sure what to make for dinner, I’ve found some great recipes and inspiration for fast, healthy, and easy dinners on Pinterest. I’m happy to share my finds so check out and feel free to follow my Recipes for Family Dinners Board.
How do you get your family to the dinner table? Have fun eating together as a family tonight!
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Moms, meet your new best friend. I was lucky enough to meet Katie Workman last week at a charity event. Who is Katie Workman, you ask? She’s the author of the new Mom 100 Cookbook which offers 100 recipes every Mom needs in her back pocket. If you struggle like I do to get a healthy family dinner on the table every night, this cookbook will become your “go-to” source for inspiration. In the book, she provides not only simple recipes but also solutions for those dilemmas Moms face when cooking for picky eaters (big and little).
I got to help Katie with her cooking demonstration while she shared helpful cooking tips. She made two of the recipes from the book which we got to sample and they were fantastic – the Broiled Miso Cod Fingers and the Sauteed Spring Vegetables. I’ve already made both recipes for my kids and they not only ate them, but LIKED them.
I love to cook, especially on the weekends where I have time to enjoy it. But being forced to get good meals on the table on nights when I’m dogged tired just causes me angst. (I love that word.) So, I purchased two copies of The Mom 100 Cookbook, one for me and one for you, to see how it could help.
Here were the highlights for me:
1. Variety. Do you ever find that you get in a rut when cooking dinner? Do the kids say “Aw, spaghetti AGAIN?” I definitely go through periods where I don’t want to think about dinner and I just fall back on 2 or 3 easy dishes. This gets boring! It does not make family dinner time fun. The book provides a variety of dishes with different flavors so I can easily expand my repertoire. From Cheddar and Cauliflower Soup to Cheesy Chicken Enchiladas to Soy-Ginger Flank Steak to Parmesan Turkey Meat Loaf, the recipes will make you look like Super Mom.
2. Little Helpers. Katie provides a little sidebar note on every recipe that says how the kids can help out with the recipe. Perfect! As you know, I’m a huge component of cooking with the kids. It not only teaches them a life skill (so my son doesn’t eat microwave burritos over the sink when he grows up), but it gives us a chance to talk in the kitchen. I have found that if I get the kids involved in planning the menu and cooking the recipe, they are more likely to eat it. The book also hassome good tips on how to get your kids to eat more things.
3. Fork in the Road. For most recipes, Katie calls out a “fork in the road” where you put aside some of the dish to appease those picky eaters. (Not where you say, “Forget this!” and order in pizza.) Then, you can continue on with the recipe adding more exotic or flavorful ingredients. I have doing this for awhile for my kids and wish I had come up with a cool name for it. For example, my daughter doesn’t like Mexican food and my son doesn’t like cheese. But I love i! So, when I make enchiladas I leave the enchilada sauce off a few for my daughter and I leave the cheese off a few for my son. That way we all get what we want but I didn’t have to make a whole new dish for the picky eaters.
4. Make Aheads. You are a Mom. You’re busy. Need I say more? So, the cookbook does us a favor and indicates where some parts of the recipe can be made ahead of time. Prep some of the food on Sunday and use it through the week when you are tired and don’t have a lot of time to get dinner on the table.
5. Mixed Company Recipes. I love to entertain. We try to have friends and family over for dinner at least once a month and kids are usually invited. So, when I cook, I need to impress the adults with my cooking skills yet still have the kids eat it and not feed it to the dog. The Mom 100 Cookbook features a whole section on Mixed Company Recipes that should appeal to both adults and kids. So, the party is on!
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Our family has been making a special effort to have more meals together every week to make sure we connect and more importantly, have fun. Trust me, I know it’s hard for busy families to schedule quality time together but you have 21 chances a week to sit down to eat and interact as a family. Surely, you can find at least 4 or 5 times to do it together.
Here are some tips on how to make it happen in your house.
1. Make Family Dinnertime Fun.
You’ll get your family to show up at the dinner table more if they enjoy it. Just because you are all sitting around a table together, it doesn’t mean you are connecting. You have to engage, have fun and get the family to look forward to the time together. Silly dinner menus, great conversations, playing “restaurant”, and games are all ways to inject some fun. Read my post How to Bring More Fun to the Dinner Table for more ideas.
2. It’s Not About the Food.
Sure we all love to eat a great meal but as I saw in an article 5 Ways to Improve Family Mealtime, don’t sweat or stress about the meal itself. Make your life easier on some nights and eat off of paper plates, order in food, or eat breakfast food at dinner if it’s easier to make. The kids think it is fun and no one will think any less of Mom if she would rather spend 20 precious minutes at night reading with kids than washing dishes. Just get everyone around the table. Here’s a recipe for one of my favorite super-easy dinners that the kids like too.
3. Family Meals Aren’ Just for Dinner Anymore.
Let’s face it, no matter how hard you try, life interferes with dinnertime. Dad works late, kids have practice, Mom’s going out to a networking meeting or if she’s lucky a Girls Night Out event. So, if you know you have a crazy week of evening activities ahead look at your planner and pencil in mealtimes at any time of the day. Sunday brunch, Saturday lunch, Wednesday breakfast. Just schedule 4-5 times a week where everyone will be sitting together and sharing. Mark it on the central family calendar so everyone knows they are expected to be present at those times.
4. Get the Kids to Pitch In.
Once your kids reach a certain age, they can certainly help with the family dinner. Here’s a good article on 3 Strategies to Get Kids to Pitch In which gives some good ideas on what kids can do at which age and how to help them help you. Kids can chip in by setting or clearing the table. Get them involved in cooking. Make them in charge of the dinner table game or conversation for the meal. By giving them a job, they’ll see how important the family meal is and hopefully make life a little easier for Mom and Dad.
How often does your family eat meals together? What are your tips and tricks for getting everyone to show up for dinner and engage?
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Now that school has started, so have the after-school activities, which means it’s harder and harder to get the family to sit down and eat together. I don’t know about you but this is a huge challenge for our family. Now more than ever it’s important to get the kids to sit and talk with you about their day. I want to hear about who their new friends are, which subjects they like most, where they need help with their homework, or how they handled a weird situation with another kid in class.
According to an article at Time.com, families who spend quality time around the table talking and interacting have more well-adjusted children, no matter what age they are. What do they mean by well-adjusted? Healthier, less likely to do drugs, have sex, and learn to use a fork. I’d give anything for my son to use a fork!
Trust me, I know it’s hard for busy families to schedule quality time together but you have 21 chances a week to sit down to eat and interact as a family. Hopefully, you can find at least 4 or 5 times a week to keep the family connected. To help schedule that, read my article at Patch.com on How to Get the Family to the Dinner Table.
However, just because you got them to the dinner table, it doesn’t mean you are connecting. You have to engage beyond just grilling everyone about their day. My goal is to make family dinner time together FUN so the whole family wants to be at the table. A tough task but it’s worth it!
Here are some of my ideas on how to make family dinnertime more fun so everyone looks forward to this time together and feels more comfortable talking.
1. Dancin’ in the Kitchen. To keep things lively, we like to crank the tunes and dance or sing while we cook, set the table and clean up. Grooving some calories away before and after dinner is good for the heart. Take turns picking the tunes.
2. Choose or Lose. Another way to have some fun at dinnertime is to let the kids choose the entire meal on certain nights. I let them choose an entree, side dish, veggie and fruit for the meal. That way I am teaching them to include all of the food groups when they plan a meal. They might choose some interesting items that you wouldn’t normally eat together but that’s what makes it fun.
3. Conversation Games. Sometimes you are just tired or at a loss for a dinner table topic. That’s why we keep some conversation starter cards near the dinner table. There are quite a few conversation games out there but we like the Family Dinner Box of Questions and Chat Pack for Kids the best. You can also write up some of your own questions ahead of time. It’s a fun way to get the conversation started and learn something new about each of your family members.
4. Positive Affirmations. When we have had a bad day or the kids have been fighting a lot, I like to “play” the positive affirmations game at the dinner table. We go around the table and say what we like most about the other family members. It forces us to focus on the positives and it is a small ego-boost for everyone. We all leave the dinner table in a much better mood.
5. Opposite Night. The kids love it when we have breakfast food at dinner time. So grab those breakfast and brunch recipe favorites and surprise the family. Or, eat dessert first one night to really throw them off balance.
6. Dinner Themes. If we are having Mexican food, I’ll see if I can throw some Mexican inspired decorations on the table. We’ll play Mariachi music while we eat. (Pandora.com is awesome for finding unique music you might not have in your collection. Type in “Latin Cafe” and you’ll love the mix.) Try French night, Asian, Old Fashioned Pizza Parlour, Red Food Only, Foods that Start with the letter “P” as themes. Be creative!
7. Play Spoons. Especially if you have little kids, they love it when you teach them how to hang a spoon off of the end of your nose. If your kids are older, then get their competitive juices going and challenge them to see who can do it first or the longest.
8. Dinner is Served. Lately, we have been playing restaurant on weekends when we stay home and cook. My daughter is the waitress with her pad of paper and pencil and my son pretends he is the chef with his chef hat and fake mustache. They love serving Mom and Dad at the table and I have to say I really like it, too.
What do you do to connect with your family at the dinner table? Please, leave a comment. We love to try new ideas.
For more on this subject, read 6 Ideas to Get Your Kids to Talk More About their Day.
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For me, cooking with your kids is the ultimate “Chocolate Cake Moment.” Making cooking a SHARED activity you not only teach your kids a life skill, it brings the family closer together. Your talking, sharing ideas, learning, experiencing something together and most importantly connecting … without any headphones, TVs, computers, or other distractions.
So, it’s great to see Guy Fieri, of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, and Guy’s Big Bite on Food Network, championing cooking with your kids. His foundation and new Food Network show “Cooking with Kids” are designed to mentor kids of all ages and educate families on the importance of getting kids into the kitchen from the very beginning. Hear, Hear! Check out the show site for tips on cooking with kids and kid-friendly recipes.
Guy answers questions on what motivated him to focus on Cooking with Kids over at the Food Network Blog. You can even watch a clip from the show.
What do you like to cook with your kids?
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Do you have a hard time getting the family to the dinner table and when you do everyone seems bored or distracted? Then read my post on How to Bring More Fun to the Family Dinner Table over at the Parent Tested, Parent Approved Blog.
Here’s another idea I forgot to add to the list:
Play Spoons. Especially if you have little kids, they love it when you teach them how to hang a spoon off of the end of your nose. If your kids are older, then get their competitive juices going and challenge them to see who can do it first.
You might also like these Family Dinner inspired posts:
Bringing Family Mealtime Back
Family Mealtime: Pitchin’ In
Family Mealtime: It’s Not About the Food
Family Mealtime: Make it a Date
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There are some amazing recipes out there for Valentine’s Day treats for the kids. I went looking for the ones that would intrigue my kids (and me) the most. Make them ahead of time to surprise the kids when they come home from school on Valentine’s Day or you can prepare any of these recipes WITH the kids for even more fun on Valentine’s Day.
Sprinklebakes.com is a very cool baking site and I just love these flaming Chocolate Cupcakes. While she is pushing them as romantic, I would push them as worthy of amazing the kids. I would definitely keep the liquor and the flame out of the kids’ hands, but having them gaze upon a cupcake that is on fire would heat up Mom’s coolness factor. (Note: Although you need to add liquor to make the flame, the heat burns away the alcohol so kids can still eat it. Or, light some on fire but keep some liquor free cupcakes on the side to serve the kids after the “show.”)
This Box of Chocolates Cake from AmazingMoms.com is pretty cool as well.
Barbara Beery always has some fun and easy recipes for cooking with the kids. Check out her Kid-Friendly Valentine’s Day Chocolate Fondue and Heart-shaped Chocolate Chip Peppermint Scones. Yum to both!
Finally, if you want something healthier and non-chocolate, these Watermelon Heart treats from FamilyFun.com looked super yummy and easy.
What are your favorite treats to make the kids for Valentine’s Day. “>Please share.
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Thanksgiving dinner is over and everyone has finished grazing. It was dead silent during the meal because you just can’t shovel that great food in fast enough. But now, everyone is too tired or stuffed to get up from the table. No one wants to stand up first and show the group that they had to unbutton their pants to make room for more stuffing. (Come on! I’m not the only one who does this, right.) so, you’re staring at each other with nothing to do. Don’t panic! Start a conversation game.
Prior to dinner, write a couple of fun questions down on pieces of paper. Put them in a hat and start picking random questions to ask everyone at the table. Even though you think you know everything about your relatives, trust me, you don’t. We learn more about each other playing these conversation games and it’s fun. (Tip: Have someone write these memories down in a special notebook or video tape it. It’s a great way to preserve some of the grandma and grandpa’s memories.)
Here are some suggestions for questions that should appeal to all ages:
1. Who was your favorite teacher and why?
2. What is your favorite book?
3. What is your favorite movie?
4. If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
5. If you could invite anyone to dinner, who would it be?
6. What is your favorite Holiday tradition and why?
7. What was your very first job?
8. What was/is your favorite kids show?
9. What is the one thing you like most about the person sitting next to you?
10. What are you most thankful for this year?
What question would you add to my list?
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Today is National Family Day! Hurray! Created by The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, Family Day – A Day to Eat Dinner with Your Children™ is a national movement to inform parents that interacting with your kids during frequent family dinners is an effective tool to help keep America’s kids substance free. Research shows the simple act of eating dinner together as a family can have a major impact on the happiness and well-being of both parents and children. I know my family is much happier when we are talking about the best parts of our day, how to solve a challenge or planning our next Family Fun activity.
We have always been a big proponent that Family Mealtime = more Chocolate Cake Moments. Read my articles on Bringing the Family Mealtime Back, Family Mealtime Fun: It’s Not About the Food, Getting Your Kids to Pitch In at Dinner, and Want to Have Dinner Together More? Make a Date.
At the National Center on Addiction’s site, you can download their annual study on the Importance of Family Dinners and how that impacts your teen’s happiness, health and self-esteem. You can also download some fun dinnertime games and conversation starters.
Have fun with your family at dinner tonight!
You might also like …
6 Ideas To Get Your Kids To Talk More About Their Day
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Now that school has started, how can you talk to your kids about school without getting the famous one word reply– “Fine”? Or my favorite, “OK.” No that’s some communicating!
Getting your kids to actively talk about their day can be a challenge but here are some tips that have worked for us or we’ve read about on how to get your kids to talk about their day.
Greet, don’t grill.
Kids can get defensive and feel intimidated when you ask them about school right as they get off the bus. Don’t grill them about their day as soon as they walk in the door. “What did you do today? What did you learn? What did you have for lunch?” Just take it easy and truly show them you are just happy to see them again. This worked wonders for my family since the kids didn’t drag their feet coming home to tell me bad news. They knew they could ease into it.
We found an article that Jim Fay wrote and he calls this technique the “30 minutes rule.” Don’t talk about school or your work for 30 minutes after greeting each other. You don’t want to hear bad news about your kid’s day and they don’t want you to take out any work aggression on them. Don’t let school or work ruin your relationship with your child. Make sure you are both happy to greet each other. You can read his other hints here.
It’s great if your child begins the talking first. One day, don’t ask them about school at all and see what happens. Kids are usually less defensive and more willing to share their school experience when they start to talk first. So hold back the questions and just let them tell you. Or, see if they ask you about your day. (We can dream, can’t we?)
Once you start talking, be very open with them. Tell them about a mistake you made that day that you wish you could take back. Seeing your wiliness to share about your day can help them talk about their school day. Share with them what you like to do, how you spent your day while they were away, what happened at your work, if you met up with a friend, or if you saw something interesting. Let your kids get to know you as a person.
It’s All in How You Ask.
Asking them “How was school today” most often or not leads to the word ‘okay’, ‘fine’ in a tone that declares an end to the conversation. We use more open ended questions like: What sport did you play today in gym? What game did you play in recess? Who did you play with at recess? Why do you like that friend? Did you like the lunch I packed you? Who did you sit with at lunch today? What was the coolest thing that happened to you today? What do you wish that you could do over?
Take advantage of the clues in their backpack to start the conversation. Ask them about the homework, graded papers, notes from teachers, and artwork your kids bring home daily. Talk to them about the notes their teacher wrote on their papers, and praise them for the good grades they’ve earned. (We all need a little more praise and positive feedback every day, don’t we?) Show interest in their artwork and ask them to explain their master piece to you- even if it is just green beans glued to white paper.
A place where everyone gathers.
Make dinner a safe and comforting place for your family to share their goods and bads, happiness and disappointments, past and up-coming events. There is no better time or place to talk about your day then when you are all gathered together eating dinner. If your family’s schedule is just too hectic so that you can’t eat dinner together, then make breakfast together a ritual. Get up a little earlier but get everyone around the table talking. If you make these family conversations part of the daily routine, when they reach to their teen years, it’ll be easier for them to share.
The best time is … anytime.
Try talking about your child’s day at different times. After you have relaxed and read a story together might be a good time to talk. Or at breakfast before the day starts might be the best time. Try talking about their day at different times to see when they are most relaxed and open to sharing.
We hope these tips help you any your children to have more meaningful conversations about school.
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5 Ideas for a Date Night with your Child
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Sure, making dinner some nights can feel like a total chore but cooking with your kids is a tremendous way to spend time together talking in the kitchen. You’ll be teaching them a life skill, and with childhood obesity on the rise, you have a chance to feed your kids a healthy, home-cooked meal where you control the amount of salt, sugar and fat in the meal. For our 21st Family Fun idea for the summer, we recommend Cooking with the Kids focusing on some fun summer foods.
Even if your kids eat healthy foods in general, there is nothing like sharing the joy of fresh, in-season produce. We all know that a homegrown tomato is so much better than the waxy, flavorless version we get most of the year at the grocery store. Show your kids what some of their favorite foods taste like when it is fresh and in season. Pulling the fresh ingredients from your garden to taking a trip to the local Farmers Market makes cooking summer flavors even more special.
Depending on the age of your child, give them a task they can handle, whether it is filling a pot with water, stirring a sauce, or cutting the vegetables.
There are all kinds of kid-friendly recipes online to help inspire you in the kitchen. I’ve included some of my family’s favorites below.
Chicken Shish-Kabobs – kids will have fun “spearing” the meat and vegetables on a stick.
Fresh Fruit Popsicles
1 Cup fresh strawberries
1 Cup fresh blueberries
2 Cups 100% white grape juice
Add ingredients to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Pour into Popsicle molds and freeze until solid.
Here’s a No Bake Brownie Cupcake recipe from Barbara Beery, perfect for summer since you won’t need the oven, which makes it hot in the kitchen.
Send me a recipe by Friday, July 30th at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll enter you to win a Playful Chef Kids Cook Book with fun recipes perfect for kids. Don’t want to wait to win? Order one by Friday and get 20% off.
Cooking together is the perfect way to end a summer day. Have fun enjoying the tastes of summer! What recipe do you like to cook with your kids in the summer?
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Chocolate Cake Club Family Fun Calendar
Welcome to Day #2 of our 30 Day Summer Fun Challenge, where we’re giving you 30 days of simple, creative & most importantly memorable ideas to make this the most fun summer ever for your family.
Have you ever wondered where the summer has gone? Been disappointed that you didn’t get to the Zoo, or get tickets to a popular kids concert, or get the bikes out enough to justify the space they take up in the garage? Well, last summer we started a Family Summer Hit List and it made planning and scheduling our family fun a whole lot easier. We were tired of “missing” some of the fun things we wanted to do every summer because we didn’t act fast enough, so we decided to take charge and make it a family project.
Pick a night and when you sit down for dinner, go around the table and ask everyone in the family what they would like to do for fun that summer. Have someone write down all of the ideas. Then vote on the Top 10 ideas that your family is going to do together. (If this gets too heated or causes hurt feelings amongst younger siblings, put all of the ideas into a hat and pull the first 10. While someone might still be miffed that their idea didn’t make it, at least it’s fair!)
Now, grab the family calendar and plan which days you’ll schedule each activity. If any work needs to be done ahead of time like buying tickets, making reservations, or inviting friends over, assign the responsibilities to family members so everyone is working together to have fun. You’ll get more buy-in from the kids, Mom won’t be the only one planning everything, and you won’t miss any important activities.
Your kids and grandkids grow up so fast. Don’t miss these precious summer days and nights to have fun together. (That was my mushy Moment.)
Here’s our family’s Summer Hit List around the Chicagoland area:
- Train ride downtown, eat at French Market
- Six Flags Day with fellow Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Families
- Concert at Ravinia, our outdoor concert venue
- Long bike ride along Lake Michigan – RJ Grunts for dinner
- Cubs Game
- Splash time at North Ave. Beach
- BBQ party with friends
- Hang out with neighbors at local pool
- Backyard camp-out
- Drive-in tailgate party with friends
- Trips to Austin, TX and Iowa to visit the Grandparents and cousins
TREAT: To make your planning a little easier, for every order placed today at the Chocolate Cake Club between 8 a.m. CST and midnight, we’ll throw in a FREE Mom’s Plan-it or momAgenda Family Planning Calendar. While supplies last, so get your order in now!
What’s on your Hit List for the Summer?
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I don’t know about your family but we tend to get into a breakfast food rut quite often. The morning rush is chaotic and stressful and no matter what time I set my alarm for, it wasn’t early enough.
Now that my daughter has diabetes, we are trying to get more choices into our breakfast routine. Not just to overcome the creativity rut (frozen waffles, again???) but to balance out our most important meal of the day.
I’m not a huge fan of the ModernMom.com site since it was purchased last year, but I did really like their post yesterday on 10 Super Easy Breakfast Ideas for the Morning Rush.
Check it out and tell me what you make for breakfast tomorrow.
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Family meals aren’t just for dinner anymore.
Let’s face it, no matter how hard you try, life interferes with dinnertime. Dad works late, kids have practice, Mom’s going out to a networking meeting. So, if you know you have a crazy week of evening activities ahead look at your planner and pencil in mealtimes at any time of the day. Sunday brunch, Saturday lunch, Wednesday breakfast. Just schedule 4-5 times a week where everyone will be sitting together and sharing. Mark it on the central family calendar so everyone knows they are expected to be present at those times.
So, what are you waiting for. Go ahead and schedule those family meals for the week. If you are uber organized, you can even plan the meal ahead of time and have the groceries bought and bagged. Whoa! I know that’s crazy talk but try it one week and see if it makes your life a little easier.
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Get the kids to pitch in for family mealtime.
Our kids set and clear the table as part of their allowance. But lately, I have been asking them to help me cook the food as well. It teaches them a life skill (I don’t want my son growing up thinking it’s OK to eat a microwave burrito over the sink, no matter what his Uncles tell him), we get a chance to talk more in the kitchen, and it makes my life easier. (Some nights that’s the most important part, because hey, if Mom ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.)
To make it even more fun or “add some frosting”:
1. Dinner is Served. Lately we have been playing restaurant on weekends when we stay home and cook. My daughter is the waitress and my son pretends he is the chef. As you can see, he even went for the Chef’s outfit and pencil thin mustache. As they say on Chowder, the new authority on cooking according to my children, “Every chef needs a great mustache.” (Psst … We don’t normally have flowers on the table. This photo was from Valentine’s Day when we opted to stay in and cook and not go out. I didn’t want to create a great impression … that is false.) They love serving Mom and Dad at the table. I have to say I like it too.
2. Dancin’ in the Kitchen. To keep things lively, we like to crank the dance tunes and dance or sing while we get ready for dinner. Grooving some calories away before dinner. It’s good for the heart. What are we grooving to these days? The Glee Soundtrack. There’s nothing like watching your kids belt out “I Ain’t Saying She a Gold Digger … ” while the macaroni and cheese congeals.
3. Choose or Lose. Another way we get the kids involved in dinnertime is to let them choose the entire meal on certain nights. I ask them to choose an entree, side dish, veggie and fruit for the meal. That way I am teaching them to include all of the food groups when they plan a meal. We can also have the enlightening discussion on why Gummy Bears are not a side dish. (I have to say they made some valid points.)
Have fun making dinner tonight!
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You aren’t what you eat.
In the article we shared yesterday on 5 Ways to Improve Family Mealtime, they say not to sweat or stress about the meal itself. I agree. The kids don’t care if you make sandwiches … again, or order in pizza. It’s the time spent together talking that makes the meal essential to family health.
I’ll take it a step further and say that on certain nights where I am really busy and don’t want to spend the evening cleaning dishes, we’ll eat on paper plates. The kids think it is fun and I don’t think I’m any less of a Mom if I would rather spend 20 precious minutes at night reading with kids than washing dishes.
We have some quick, “go-to” meals when we are pressed for time or I just didn’t plan anything for dinner, like panini sandwiches, French Toast, or soup. My new favorite is to mix the Frontera Grill Tortilla Soup Base (available at Whole Foods), mixed with shredded rotisserie chicken (which I buy, shred and freeze extra from other meals or you can buy a whole bag of it at Costco now), grated cheddar cheese, crumbled Ranchero cheese, cilantro, and tortilla strips (I like the thin Salad topping kind but you can use tortilla chips too).
Here’s another of our favorite quick recipes that the kids seem to like:
Spicy Bistro Steak Subs (a Cooking Light Magazine recipe)
1 Tbsp. stick margarine
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb. thinly sliced lean deli roast beef
2 Tbsp. ketchup
4 tsp. Worchestershire sauce
½ tsp. dried basil
½ tsp. dried oregano
¼ tsp. ground red pepper
1 (12 ounce) can dark beer or beef broth
6 (2 ½ oz.) hoagie rolls, cut in half lengthwise
Melt margarine in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add minced garlic, and sauté 2 minutes. Add roast beef and next 6 ingredients (roast beef through beer), and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Use kitchen tongs to parcel out the roast beef evenly amongst the bread rolls. Serve sandwiches with sauce from pan on side for dipping.
What is your “go-to” quick meal?
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There have been a lot of articles floating around the last few weeks (heck, years if you google the subject) on how important it is for families to eat a meal together. Families who spend quality time around the table talking and interacting have more well-adjusted children. What do they mean by well-adjusted? According to an article in Time.com: Healthier, less likely to do drugs, have sex, and learn to use a fork. According to the experts in the article, “A meal is about civilizing children. It’s about teaching them to be a member of their culture.” I totally want civilized children!
Our family has been making a special effort to have 4 – 5 meals together every week to make sure we connect and more importantly, have fun. Trust me, I know it’s hard for busy families to find the time to schedule quality time together but you have 21 chances a week to sit together and interact as a family. Surely, you can find 4 or 5 times to do it together. Over the next few days, I’ll be sharing ideas on how to find the time, make mealtime a little easier for Mom, and most importantly, have fun. Just because you are all sitting around a table together, it doesn’t mean you are connecting. You have to engage and I’ll give you some ideas on how.
For starters, we came across this great article on 5 Ways to Improve Family Mealtime at the MyJobChart blog so we wanted to share.
We’ll be adding a few more ideas of our own over the next few days so check back. Just out of curiosity, how many times a week does everyone in your family sit down to eat together?
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