This week held a lot of discussion on family dinner and how to make it work, inspired in part by Pete Wells' column about the difficulties of pulling it off. I wrote an open letter to Pete, and eatdinner.org was featured twice for my advocacy for family dinner, on The Lunch Tray and on the Love You More blogs. (Thank you!) Through the magic of the Internet (aka links), I found some other great folks that are singing the same tune.
Here's hoping that the family dinner discussion encourages parents not to wave the white flag, but to embrace the kitchen and the merits of family dinner. Family dinner does take time and commitment, and it isn't always fun, but it's so worth it in the end. Much like parenting, no?
Here's 5 more tips to add to my list.
Five MORE Tips for Making Family Dinner Happen
1. Plan ahead. If you can plan and shop a week ahead, that's great. But even just making a plan in the morning, at your lunch hour, or via email or text with your spouse, can help. Having a ready answer a when the kids cry "What's for dinner?" will take the pressure off as you walk in the door and help you feel more in control.
2. Have back-pocket, straight-out of the pantry recipes that you can whip up without thinking. There are many simple pasta sauces that can be made with just a few at-hand ingredients. Memorize a few, and you'll have dinner even on crazy days. Your goal should be 5 to 10 recipes you can make in 20 or 30 minutes. Use the weekends to learn new recipes or to make large batches of favorite meals.
3. Fresh is great, but don't fear the freezer. In addition to frozen meals and leftovers you make yourself, there are healthy frozen food options out there, but check the ingredients! Frozen veggies or fruit (for dessert) can be a life-saver to round out a meal nutritionally. Don't forget you can "freeze your own." We often pre-cut a large package of meat (chicken, beef, pork) into stir-fry sized pieces that can be quickly defrosted and put into weeknight meals.
4. Resist ordering take-out or buying drive-thru, if you can. If you can whip up a meal in 30 minutes, it will be on the table way before the pizza guy arrives. Cooking a simple meal at home is way better for you and cheaper too.
5. Use the web for inspiration! There are so many great food blogs out there, many with quick easy recipes for families. Also, Google just came out with a Recipe View that looks promising. Type in a cooking idea, or even a holiday or theme, and get recipe suggestions, complete with ingredient list and cooking times. Very cool!
Check out these blogs or find others that you trust and keep checking for new ideas. (If you like any of these, send the author some love via the comments sections! Bloggers love that, really!)
Red, Round or Green Lots of great stuff on family meals, meal planning and recipes. Her recent post on how she does it: plan, plan, plan.
Stay at Stove Dad. Great recipes and perspective as a dad who cooks for his family. New book coming out in May!
Friday Fan Club: Great Blogs for Family Dinner Recipes A recent eatdinner.org round-up of recipe sites I like.