Family Dinner-Make it Happen
- Family meals are an important life issue.
- Start by articulating to your family that family meals are a priority.
- By making it a priority it sets the stage for future planning of activities.
- With every new activity, consider how the activity will affect family meal times.
- Set a goal, make it realistic - – If your family never sits down together, perhaps eating together for just twice a week is a good starting point.
- Set a regular family mealtime that works for everyone.
- Dinner time
- Lunch time on the weekends
- Solicit menu ideas from your family
- Involving the family helps
- Make a list of family favorites; at least 10 menu ideas
- Favorite menus will bring people to the table
- Agree on a weekly menu - Decide on what will be served for the week
- Post it somewhere visible
- Make a grocery list based on your menu - – Shop according to what you need for the week.
- Try theme meals during the week:
Salads, light fare
Take out Thursday
- Consider crock pot cooking
- Put ingredients in crock pot in the morning before you leave for work;
- Return to a fully cooked meal!
- Take-out or pizza delivery counts as a family dinner
- Make it a treat not an everyday occurrence.
- Cook once; eat twice
- Consider recipes that use the same main ingredients
- Ground meat for meatballs one day; tacos the next.
- Cook large batches of chili, spaghetti sauce, etc. and freeze. Enjoy days later.
- Use spaghetti sauce in your lasagna another day
- Cook large batches of soup
- Weekend cooking alleviates stress during the week.
- Make large casserole dishes, large batches of soup, etc. and eat these during the week
- Put away grocery shopping in a way that will facilitate cooking during the week.
- Store meat in a freezer tight bag with marinade to save you time during the week
- Frozen vegetables
- Frozen fruits
- Canned beans (rinse before using)
- Rice cooker
- Crock pots
- De-clutter the dining room table - Set some ground rules
- Telephone calls, messages, emails, etc. will not be made or taken during family meal times
- All electronics including cell phone, e-readers etc. will be off the table
- Reading materials will not be allowed on the table
- Turn the television OFF.
- Any kind of distraction will deter conversation.
- Make meal time fun and light
- Establish a quick family tradition that fosters conversation:
- Rose/Thorn -Rose: name one good thing that happened to you today; Thorn: share a not so good thing that happened today and how did you handle this situation?
- Name one interesting thing you learned, saw, or heard today?
- Make table time enjoyable and not dreadful:
- Keep table talk positive
- Keep table time at a realistic time
Article written by: Julia Salomón MS, RDN, CD, corporate dietitian, Affinity Health System.