Monday, February 9, 2015

A Few Secrets for Healthy Family Dinners

I am learning that one of the really important things about food is that it not only feeds our bodies, but it feeds our souls as well. It makes a huge difference in the lives of families and the people that we love to share a meal together.

Food $ense teaches some amazing basics of Family Meal Time. Believe me, I know that it isn't always easy (and sometimes it isn't even really "fun") but it can make a huge difference in our lives and the lives of our spouses and our children - the people who we love.

Here are some of the benefits that you will have if you make family meal time a priority.  There is even an awesome group called The Family Dinner Project and they list a whole slew of really cool benefits.  Basically there are improvements in every aspect of their lives (and consequently yours too)

Since we already know that it is pretty important and can make some big differences in the lives of the people we love, let's get to how to make this a little bit easier on us. (and get our kids to eat what we actually make!)


  • a Great place to start for some ideas is (of course) Food $ense.   There are a few things we are already doing - of course, we already have a meal planned - that leaves out lots of stress when dinner time rolls around. There is no shortage in the world of quick and healthy recipes, the broken piece of this chain is people willing to do the planning. Plan ahead, make sure you have your ingredients on hand, pre-prep what you can, and make sure everyone knows what is on the menu (leading to lots less arguments at 5:59 of.... "I don't like that!"



  • Get everyone involved in the prep and the clean-up.   Here is a link to the list we have used before from Snap-Ed  If you need some ideas about what kids can do to help, here are some suggestions: 
At 2 years:
  • Wipe tables
  • Hand items to adult to put away (such as after grocery shopping)
  • Place things in trash
  • Tear lettuce or greens
  • Help “read” a cookbook by turning the pages
  • Make “faces” out of pieces of fruits and vegetables
  • Rinse vegetables or fruits
  • Snap green beans
At 3 years:
All that a 2 year old can do, plus:
  • Add ingredients
  • Talk about cooking
  • Scoop or mash potatoes
  • Squeeze citrus fruits
  • Stir pancake batter
  • Knead and shape dough
  • Name and count foods
  • Help assemble a pizza
At 4 years:
All that a 3 year old can do, plus:
  • Peel eggs and some fruits, such as oranges and bananas
  • Set the table
  • Crack eggs
  • Help measure dry ingredients
  • Help make sandwiches and tossed salads
At 5 years:
All that a 4 year old can do, plus:
  • Measure liquids
  • Cut soft fruits with a dull knife
  • Use an egg beater
It takes a little time and some extra effort at first to teach in the kitchen, but it is worth the work for the help (and together time) later on. Plus, you can't raise adults that don't know how to chop an onion!  If you do, they might end up on a national cooking show confessing that they never were taught to chop and onion and you will feel nothing but shame - save yourself the shame. Teach your kids. 


  • Last tip, Focus on the relationships - focus on the soul that you are trying to feed and not just the body. Yes, it takes extra patience (a LOT of it), and you need to let go of your perfectionist expectations.  Let your helpers choose ingredients, spices and sauces. Experiment and make gentle suggestions. Teach them to learn to be brave in the kitchen and if things don't turn out exactly like then planned sometimes that means they have turned out even better!