Monday, November 29, 2010

Post-Thanksgiving family dinner blues

A new study, released just in time for Thanksgiving, shows that 89% of American families have dinner together on Thanksgiving. The catch is that just half of the families surveyed eat dinner together regularly. One in six families (14%) never ate family dinner together! This is not shocking news, but it does show that we are willing to take great lengths for a once-a-year tradition, but not commit to a daily routine of eating dinner together. Eatdinner.org is all about promoting family dinner on a regular basis, not just special occasions.

So how can you transform warm feelings of Thanksgiving through this week, and the next, and the next?

The first step is making a commitment to family dinner. The next steps include identifying your personal roadblocks to family dinner and figuring out how to fix them.

Are you a single or divorced parent, or one partner can't be home consistently at dinner time? 
Make family dinner with the kids anyway. Family dinner can happen if all the people who are at home are sitting together and eating, ideally the same meal with the TV off. Acting like a short-order chef for the kids doesn't count. You have to sit down and eat too.

Are you unsure of your cooking skills? 
Cooking skills will last a lifetime and are worth an investment in time. Start with a basic cookbook and a good attitude. (Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything is super easy and supplies all the basics. He even has an phone app and a weekly newsletter with recipes). Don't expect yourself to be an overnight gourmet chef, just keep working and practicing. You would be surprised how kids like and remember the simplest meals.

There's just no room in the schedule!
Schedule in dinner like it's an appointment, at least a few nights a week. Dinner with your family is just as important as soccer practice and PTA meetings. Eat dinner late if you have to. Talk to your boss, the coach or your child's teacher if you have to make special arrangements. Develop meals that can be made in minutes, quickly defrosted or served from a crockpot.

One final thought: think of family dinner as your own food revolution.
What's the best way to start a food revolution in your own home? Learn to cook.
Jamie Oliver via Family Bites blog
 Just a few ideas to help make family dinner a reality. Any other ideas to add? Feel free to comment.

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