Family Dinners:it’s the first thing that comes to mind when I think of my childhood (may explain my deep love for food). It was a rule at our house to be home in time for dinner, no excuses. As a child I HATED having to leave the neighborhood tree house to go home for
dinner. As a teenager, I HATED having to leave my friends to go home. But as soon as college hit, I could not WAIT to get home to a fresh cooked meal. And as I’ve become more and more removed from my angst filled adolescent/teenage years, I find myself longing for those family dinners again, where we’d sit down to a homemade meal.
I think my mom is the biggest advocate out there for family dinners, and for good reason. They helped keep us together as a family, and they helped keep us healthy. There are many reasons to install family dinners in the home to be sure….But it’s hard! As I try to start the tradition in my own home, I find how hard it is to keep on top of meal ideas, to keep the pantry stocked of necessary ingredients, to find the time to cook, to find the SPACE to cook (think of the smallest countertop you’ve ever seen. Half that. And you’ll have an idea of how big my counter is….city living does have its cost) and perhaps the hardest of all, to make dishes, which bridge the gap between healthy but still tasty. I admire of you out there who have learned how to do this.
I’m a novice when it comes to family meal planning but I have found a few tricks that help make planning a bit easier:
- Make a dinner calendar– Whether paper or electronic, write it down. (Paper template can be found here) It’ll be one less thing your brain has to remember and figure out at the end of the day. A SMART PHONE WILL BE YOUR BEST FRIEND TO ACHIEVE THIS. Create a calendar entitled “Dinner”. Calendar in the meals you want to eat on the days you want to eat them. In the “notes” section write ingredients you’ll need to buy. Copy and paste recipes into the notes as well. This also allows you to be flexible with your planning. If you run out of time for a meal one day, simply reschedule the dinner for another day.
- Buy ingredients ahead of time– Find a day that works well for you to go to the store and go, shopping list in hand which includes all the ingredients you’ll need for the week. It’s easier to stay in line with your plan if you know you have ready ingredients at home.
- Don’t try to be a Julia Child– Don’t overwhelm yourself with too complex a project. Stick to the basics. Find recipes that work for you. And then if you want, incorporate new dishes into your cooking repertoire.
- Set an Attainable Goal– Whether individual or a family goal, set a goal to eat together “x” amount of times a week. Re-evaluate after a month of dinners.
- Meatless Monday– Don’t forget to eat meatless on Mondays!
- Blog/Write About it– I love reading my friends’/family blogs about their experiences! Love seeing their pictures, and reading their recipes. They are inspiring to me. You can be that inspiring as well. Cooking a delicious, beautiful meal is fun. And it’s even more fun if you document it!
Once the habits are formed and a routine is set, I hear it’s a lot easier to stay on track. But these are a few steps I’ve found helpful in my efforts. Good luck to us all!