Every year, studies find fewer families sit down together regularly for family meals. The overwhelming majority of parents agree family meals are important, but life intervenes and it just doesn’t happen. Perhaps it’s bribery of a sort, but if serving the foods your family craves will get everyone to the dinner table, it’s worth it.
Planning is Key
With everything else you have to do, taking a half hour to plan the week’s meals and shopping list may seem like a lot. It will save time in the long run, however, by eliminating a few of those last minute grocery or takeout runs. Fewer trips to the grocery store also reduces the number of impulse buys and saves you money. List 10 or so of your family’s favorite meals and plan to have at least one from the list every week. Add the ingredients for these meals to your shopping list. Look at everyone’s schedules and add in meal “dates” at least a couple times a week.
Jazz up Family Favorites with Chorizo
If your family doesn’t love chorizo, they probably haven’t tried it. Chorizo, like that available from Cibao Meat Products, is a fully cured Spanish pork sausage that’s packed with flavor and can be used after a brief sauté or in long-cook meals such as chili. It’s great added to eggs, onion and cheese dips, soups, mac ‘n cheese, salads, and countless other recipes.
Make Double and Freeze
You can cook double for many meals and freeze one for a second meal. This works well for many family favorites such as meatballs or meat loaf. Here’s a tip: If you slice the second meatloaf and freeze it with 2-4 slices per freezer bag, it thaws much faster and is ready to use for sandwiches or a quick meal.
Use Your Crockpot
The problem many have with slow cookers is lack of time in the morning to prepare the ingredients. If you plan a crockpot night for Monday or Tuesday, you could do most of the prep on Sunday and leave in the fridge until needed. A quick online search will yield lots of family-friendly slow cooker recipes such as this tasty chili with chorizo.
One last tip is to serve foods family-style rather than plating everything as a restaurant would. Many child care experts and the USDA recommend this approach. Kids often do better and actually eat healthier when they can serve themselves. Make mealtime an electronics-free zone to encourage conversation. It will pay off as the family reconnects over their favorite foods.