With all the talk about family mealtime this month, have you been feeling the pressure? We would all love to have the perfect family dinner, where the food is delicious, no one complains or argues, and the dishes do themselves. But let’s be realistic. Dinnertime is often the most stressful time of day. For a successful family mealtime, it is important to find ways to beat the tension and lower stress levels. The Family Dinner Project outlines it perfectly – make it simple, make it fun, make it matter.
Make It Simple
Dinner doesn’t have to be a seven course meal with an elaborate spread. In fact, simple and relaxed is often best. Think back on some of your favorite mealtime memories. Do you remember what you ate? Or do your memories include what you talked about, how hard you laughed, or something silly that happened? Keep the food part of mealtime simple so you can focus on what is really important. Take a look at this post from a few months back. It shows how simple building a meal can be by picking a food from each food group to make a well rounded MyPlate meal.
Make It Fun
Find ways to turn a stressful time of day into a fun time of day. Make each family member talk in a certain accent all through dinnertime, use a jar of conversation starters to learn more about each other, or eat by candlelight. One simple step towards fun can shift the mood of the meal, and create an environment perfect for nourishing family relationships. Click here for a list of simple dinner games to try. You might also consider putting together a theme dinner or turning up the music for a dance party while everyone helps clean up.
Make It Matter
When you start to feel the tension rising, keep in mind what it is all about. Mealtime is meant to bring family together and strengthen bonds. Ask yourself this question, “If you could have dinner with anyone living or dead, who would you choose?”. As you think about your answer, take a minute to watch this short video. You won’t regret it!
When given the opportunity to choose any possibility, the kids chose family. I can bet that they’d be just as happy with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich as they would with a seven course meal! As you plan your family mealtimes for the coming week, remember to keep it simple, make it fun, and make it matter!
It’s a versatile dish perfect for this time of year. It uses vegetables of the season and can be altered to fit your preferences. If you don’t have ground turkey on hand, ground beef, sausage, or shredded chicken make great substitutes. I even thought of adding a scoop of whole wheat pasta or wheat berries to the mix. If you would like to try your hand at making homemade tomato sauce, click here for a recipe. Enjoy!
Certified Nutrition Education Assistant