family fun

Tips and Tricks for Eating Together and Staying Together

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Meal time has always been a comfort time for me. My family comes together for dinner every night, whoever is home, to take a break from the homework, housework, and other activities that absorb our daily hours. It is a good way for everyone to keep tabs on what other family members are doing and to think about others. Eating together can be a great way to show your kids that you care about the family as a whole and the family's function. It is a way of showing love that is indirectly received and children, in turn, tend to get better grades, have lower depression levels, and eat healthier.

Family eating dinner together

At a recent Mom It Forward #gno Twitter party, sponsored by the National Pork Board, Tweeters gave tips and tricks for making time for meals together and getting the most out of it.

9 Ideas for Family Meal Time

  • Make meal time a special time, whether it’s breakfast, lunch, dinner, or all of the above. “We schedule things around the meals because it’s important we have that time alone,” said @ohsweetbasil.
  • Get rid of distractions. Make this a time to focus on one another. @TamaraBenningto suggested eating outside to avoid distractions. “We started eating together at the dining room table, no TV. Made a difference in the quality of time spent,” said @aMusingFoodie.
  • Get talking. Meals can be a great time to get to know one another and become closer as a family. Take turns asking questions to one another. “We hold hands and take turns saying something before our meal,” said @CraysMom.
  • Prepare early. “Meal planning at least a couple days in advance has really helped us eat together,” said @Lizinka2001. “We precook a lot on the weekends,” said @TamaraBenningto. “Freeze for an easy meal during the week.”  @thirtymommy suggested frozen lasagna as a delicious and quick weeknight meal. “I love prepping veggies, sauces, mixes in the morning if I can,” said @BudgetGourmetM who, along with many other moms, also suggested a slow cooker as a way to have meals ready when you are. “We set up breakfast the night before,” said @mom4everandever. “It’s a time to say hey, I love you, positive thoughts.”
  • Go for simple. Your meals don’t have to be elaborate or take all day to make. The idea is the quality time spent with family. You can even joke over how bad the food is if it turns out that way. @MimsyYamaguchi suggested pork carnitas and tortillas. “Put cheese, salsa, lettuce, sour cream, and guacamole in a muffin tin,” she said. “Taco bar!” @jylmomIF suggested poached salmon, “takes 10-12 minutes under the broiler. My go-to quick and easy and healthy recipe.” @TamaraBenningto said, “Stoke up the grill, relax on the patio, use paper plates, no clean up.”
  • Find new recipes to mix up your family dinner time. Many Tweeters suggested online sources as a way to find new recipes. @TamaraBenningto likes twitter parties, blogs, company websites, and Pinterest. Ask family members and friends for their best recipes, @marilola33 gets new ideas from her mom and grandma. “Everyone has a special way to cook something and I like to change it up a little,” said @fowler121600. @BudgetGourmetM suggested @Ziplist. “It allows you to save recipes from favorite sites, create a menu, and a shopping list.”
  • Pulled pork makes a great family meal and is a staple in many households. It is such an easy dish for large family gatherings and there are lots of sides to go with it. “We slow cook in the oven overnight then shred it for a big crock pot of BBQ sandwiches,” said @TamaraBenningto. @allaboutpork said to cook with a little liquid, such as apple juice or water as well as seasonings. “Don’t peek!” Try this pork from @ohsweetbasil and follow @allaboutpork on Pinterest for delicious pork recipes and ideas.
  • Eat your leftovers. Make enough food for multiple nights or leftover night! Some favorites include turning rotisserie into enchiladas from @ohsweetbasil, eating meatloaf in sandwich form from @busyVAmom, and pork in salad from @christielomb.
  • Reach out to extended family and friends. Meals are something that everyone has in common and can be a great way to strengthen relationships with anyone and everyone. Throw a dinner party with your neighbors like @ohsweetbasil or hold a barbeque. Grilling is another great way to get to know people. You have to stand around and wait for the meal, so why not talk?

“It is true that a family that enjoys or eats meals together is a happier family,” said @MWill1980. A tradition like this is a hard one to start, but the long term benefits are rewarding to the family as a whole and to the individuals residing with in it.

What are some things you do to get your whole family together for meals?

Feature image courtesy of Flickr.

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Cambria VandeMerwe

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