Family Dinners: How To Make Them Organized, Fun & Meaningful
Let’s be honest. For me, the kitchen has turned into the “place where the cold box is.” The Todd does most of the cooking–though I would like to point out that I can thaw like nobody’s business. However, we’ve been trying to squeeze a little more organization into dinnertime. We realized it had been THREE weeks since we’ve all sat down together as a family. That’s pathetic, even for us. (Multiple studies show how important eating together as a family can be–here’s a couple if you want to take a look.)
The only way to make something a priority at Chez Collard is to make it easy. So, if you’re battling the same thing let’s try it together, shall we?
The Challenge-getting the family to (shudder) communicate:
Yes, there is actually an app for that. Hundreds, really but here’s some of my favorites, and they’re free. Good conversation in a family encourages the “ask me anything” policy. (Editor’s note: this turned around and bit me right on the fanny on the night my sons brought home 2 classmates who’d emigrated here from the Sudan, and I was required to explain Martin Lither King Jr., slavery, and why Michael Jackson was black and then he was white.)
The No Phone Zone:
This is actually for ME. I hate being without my phone and instant access to communication. Think about how many times you’ve seen groups eating in complete silence, everyone staring at their phones? Hard to get any meaningful communication going when you haven’t looked up from your screen once.
The Good News Report:
My toddler Zoe actually suggested this – she was tired of hearing everyone whine and gripe about their day, bad news and why “everything is RUINED!” (my son MacLean’s favorite phrase.) So, now we all start with a round of good news about our day, something we read or heard from the news, a compliment from someone.
Here’s my Arsenal of Awesome for dinner prep:
Pinterest: take a gander at all of our Pinterest pages devoted to cooking and wonderful meals – everything from gluten-free, low calorie, what to do if there’s nothing but chicken, ground beef, or shrimp in your freezer, one pot meals, cooking for crowds and more.
Free Cookbooks: the worst part about nightly dinner is the Chef Fatigue-you know, it’s 5pm, you’re on your way home from work and you can’t think of a single thing you can tolerate cooking? New cookbooks can give you some fresh ideas to make it a little more entertaining. Looking through them with the kids can get them excited about making the meal with you.
The Sauce Cookbook from Mr. Food is a wealth of ideas for new flavors to dump over the same old noodles and such.
Pillsbury has a new Easter cookbook out with recipes and coupons attached.
General Mills has a group of kid-friendly recipes to put the little weasels to work, and there’s a wealth of coupons attached.
If you’re trying to eat lighter, there’s a new Healthy Meals cookbook with meals under 500 calories.
So, what works in your house to keep the dinner hour sane, consistent and sort of fun? Please share!