We all know that families should dine together when they can, but finding the time to do so can be difficult. Our family enjoys sharing their favorite thing for the day during our meal. Work, school, sports practices, and other commitments can get in the way of eating together. However, studies have shown that families who eat dinner together at home are happier and healthier. You should take advantage of every opportunity to eat together, whether that is every night or only once a week, in the morning before school or late at night for simply dessert. Here, we look at ideas for preparing family meals that will keep everyone healthy, inspire important conversations, and take the stress out of gathering around the dinner table.
First and foremost, set out an hour on Sunday to plan for the next week. For meal planners, go over the recipes you want to make, select the ingredients that can be prepared ahead of time, and prepare them so they are ready to use in the recipes. Even if you do not enjoy planning meals in advance, you can save time by prepping ingredients that you will most likely need in your meals. A few examples of this would be mincing garlic, chopping onions, peeling vegetables and cutting them into sticks, and so on.
Enlist your children to assist you with jobs that are appropriate for their ages, such as juicing and shredding for young children or slicing and chopping for older children and adults. Teach them some easy shortcuts for doing things, such as make roasted potatoes in an instant pot. Our girls enjoy making pizza, which is easy for little kids to do. Simply throw cheese and toppings on.
Keep in mind that involving your children in the meal preparation process is likely to increase their enthusiasm in both cooking and eating the products of their efforts. The ability to take pride in one’s work goes a long way.
Another great meal preparation tactic is to cook in large quantities. If you can easily double the recipe and have enough to store for additional dinners in the coming weeks, why would you bother to create just one pot of sauce that would only serve one meal instead? Dishes that freeze well, such as lasagna, chili, soups, and stews, are perfect for creating in large quantities and storing them in the freezer. Set up an assembly line with your children and putting the meal-sized pieces in freezer-safe containers or bags that are the proper size for your family’s needs.
It is always more fun for children to choose their own toppings when meals are interactive, and it is always more enjoyable for adults to participate in meal preparation. A baked potato bar with toppings of your choice (baked potatoes are simple and inexpensive, and potatoes last a long time), a nacho bar, a taco feast, a make-your-own tortilla station, or an oatmeal bar for breakfast are all good ideas. All that is required is that you prepare the base ingredients and set out toppings that your family will appreciate.
Make it simple to access commonly used products such as cooking oils and sprays, spatulas, cutting boards, and spices by keeping them close at hand. This will save you the time and effort of having to look for them afterward.