Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Reinventing the Family Meal

I have a confession.

We don’t eat dinner together as a family on a regular basis.

I know the family meal table is an important part of child's development. I know how it encourages them to try new foods, helps promote good table manners and is a great bonding time for families.

When I was growing up we always ate together. Some of my favorite memories are around the dinner table. And, on the rare occasion, when my brother, sister and I gather our families at my parents’ house, we still sit around the dinner table and talk.

But, with the way our lives are at the moment, the “Family Meal” is just not possible. Rich works late and doesn’t come home until 7:30 or 8:00 – after the kids are in bed.  We’d love it if he came home earlier, but it’s just not possible.

It’s easier for me to just feed the kids a quick meal – something that they like – and then when Rich gets home, cook something for us to eat together. We did this quite often last year. Honestly, this started as a “temporary” schedule, but as time went on, it became more permanent.

And to be honest, it is a nice way to have a “date” with my husband. The kids are in bed, we can sit, relax, eat a meal in peace, and have a glass (or two… ) of wine. It’s nice.

As you can imagine, this has made me a bit lazy with the kids meals. For a while they were living off a steady diet of chicken nuggets, hot dogs and macaroni and cheese.

But a few months ago, we decided this needs to change. Not only does it enable their processed food habit, it gets expensive.  I love eating fresh, healthy food and want my kids to enjoy it too. I want them to love the taste of the food not the additives, salt and excess sugar.

So, I started making our meals and the boys and I now eat together 3-4 nights a week.

I got tired of hearing “Ew! I’m not eating THAT!” when all I made was grilled chicken and broccoli. The last few weeks I’ve started making some new things and trying them out with the kids.

One of Josh’s Cub Scout assignments was to plan a weeks worth of meals. He did really great! He picked up one of my Clean Eating Magazines (LOVE them) and came up with a whole weeks worth of food from there.

Our favorite – Italian Shrimp Stew! YUM! With homemade bread.


This week I made the Crab Cakes that are on the cover of the current issue of the magazine. I had mine with the Mango Salsa I made. They were so delicious!!


I told the kids they were “Crabby Patties” and they gobbled them up!


Today, I made a lemony chicken with Zucchini-Squash Ribbons. They were not as big a hit as I’d hoped. Until – Josh decided to roll the chicken up in the zucchini ribbons to make “sushi!” After that, the scarfed them down!



So, while some days it is easier to just feed them something quick and easy.  And I do have to cook twice and do two sets of dishes (although Rich usually cleans up his own dishes), it’s been worth the effort.

They are trying new things and liking most of them. We have a pseudo schedule going on now. And it keeps us all eating a bit healthier.


  1. YUMM!! We only have one son but eating at the table is a big deal for us. Growing up, I didn't have that and I never really understood the value of it. It just sounded like a nice idea. When we're at the table the TV and phones are off and that's our time to just sit around and talk to one another. Granted, we do stay busy (with t-ball and our regular lives) that eating at HOME 3 nights a week is good for us. But if we ARE here to eat a meal--you better believe we're at the table.

    BTW--I'm going to try the "crabby patty." My son will LOVE that one! Thanks for sharing. Feel free to stop by my blog and/or follow me as well. I'm a newbie to the blogging realm but am really enjoying it so far.


  2. Stopping by from Bloggy Moms! Looks delish! I have to admit when schedules get in the way it's hard to all sit down together. We typically do better on weekends, but it is a vicious cycle! Best of luck!


  3. Z and I eat dinner together every night (Hubs usually works nights). When she went to a sitter's for dinner she refused to eat, saying, "I only eat dinner with my mommy." Love it.


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