How many of you dread the inevitable dinner time planning? I do! It seems that 6pm rolls around so fast and nothing is available to eat right away. We must cook, eat, and then clean up. I am an advocate for meat, potatoes, and a vegetable, but a good meal takes hours to prepare right? Well not exactly and certainly not all the time. But, this is the reason so many of us run to take out, fast food, and other unhealthy options that take more of our money. So what are we to do? What will make it worth it to stay in the house and prepare a meal for your family that everyone will enjoy and won’t destroy the kitchen? The following are some ideas for keeping the family around your dinner table and assist you in making that time an exciting memory for years to come. Meal preparation isn’t easy, but these suggestions below might help to make it worth it.
- Reserve talking about your day to the special time you have together while eating. Talk about your day, your dreams, and disappointments. This allows your spouse and kids to open up in a comfortable setting while you break bread.
- Make game night around the table. Choose a game everyone can play as the meal is being prepared. Or, give the kids an incentive to complete their meal in a timely fashion by playing a game when they are done.
- Have the kids become responsible for portions of the meal preparation or table setting. Getting everyone involved will bring more excitement and participation.
- Create a supper club. You and some friends can get together on a weekend and prepare a few meals that everyone can take home and eat during the upcoming week. Try new recipes and experiment! A friend and I started a cooking club in 2011. Now I am inspired to cook again!
- Allow everyone in the house to choose the menu on a regular basis. If you have all members of the family buy in on the menu they are bound to eat it up.
- Turn off the TV. You can pretty much find anything to do once the tube is removed.
- Make crafts. Place settings bring color and energy to your table. It is inviting and warm. The idea is to make everyone want to stay.
- Share the meal preparation and clean up duties. It may even be necessary to pick certain days that are reserved for certain family members. This way the burden of meal preparation is not all on one person.
- Prepare the night before or first thing in the morning. Who says we must start cooking when we get home from a busy day? Do the preparation when you are at your best and not low on energy. You will probably do a better job then anyway.
- Learn to love your left-overs. Meal preparation is always best when there is little to do. Pulling out something from the night before cuts down on the clean up and gives all chefs in the house a break.
Please send me your stories of any changes you make that positively affect this important part of your day.