With everyone in such a hurry these days, it’s easy to look at dinner as just one more thing on the to-do list. Because we’re all so busy, though, it’s more important than ever to make the most of those family meals when they manage to take place without conflicts from work, sports, homework, and lawn mowing. To make your family dinner more exciting tonight, think about these four ideas.
Find Easy Ways to Expand the Menu
We’ve all been a little spoiled by food courts. We eat together, but everybody gets their choice of what to eat. When you can’t replicate that at home, frustration ensues. One great option for allowing part of the family to cook something innovative while the rest stick with a tried-and-true option is to go with kids meal delivery.
This solution lets the adults and the more adventurous kids venture into something new while the finicky eaters still get an age-appropriate, nutritious meal that they like. This is much better than seeing your kids reject the meal and not get enough to eat.
Involve Everyone in Preparation
There’s nothing like the smell of a freshly-opened container of produce or the satisfaction of watching meat reach that perfect color in the skillet. When you participate in preparing the meal, you get more enjoyment than just a full stomach. There are age-appropriate tasks for everyone in the family. You just need to take the time to teach them. This also provides essential life skills that could one day keep your kids from living on fast food at college.
The youngest kids can set the table and measure ingredients. Older ones can do basic knife skills and simple cooking. Adults should continuously monitor utensil handling and cleanup to help prevent injuries and illness. One other great way to get everyone on board is to grow some of the ingredients yourself. Even a city family can produce a few herbs or a small lettuce bed to put a personal touch on a meal.
Create a Plan for Conversation
Once the food is on the table, it’s all about the conversation. Of course, the first step is to set the cell phones aside unless somebody expects a call from the White House. Next, you just need some prompts for getting the talking started. You could have a daily plan–“Everybody tells something funny that happened to you today!” The family could take turns being assigned to come up with a topic for that night.
After that, just let the conversation flow. The more specific your topics are, the more entertaining the meal will be. That variety will also help you avoid getting in a rut with the same old issues every night. You can also tie the menu into this. Each family member could be in charge of one part of the meal and then describe the process of making it as the family eats.
Change the Venue
Another great way to break up the monotony of dinner is simply to move it somewhere else. We typically sit in the same chairs around the same table for every single meal, but we still end up wondering why we feel like we’re in a rut. Think about where else you might eat, and not in front of the TV!
The formal dining room is one option if your home has one. You could even have everyone dress up just for fun. Another choice would be to head outside on the deck, porch, or patio. You might even make the meal into a picnic and spread everything out under a tree. There are all kinds of options for where to eat, allowing you to make a different meal using a very familiar menu.
There will always be those nights when you just have to do the quickest possible option for dinner. You’ll also have dinners out for special occasions. When your schedule does allow, though, it’s essential to have that time together as a family by eating together at home. Making the most of the meal will help everyone build memories as well as life skills and relationships. With a bit of creativity and organization, it’s easy to make your evening meal an authentic family experience.