Family life can easily be over-run by so many extra-curricular activities that the family aspect inside your home gets lost. One thing you can do to combat the busyness of your life is to make sure everyone sits down to a meal together. There’s no need to feel pressure to get everyone to the table and to have a fancy meal prepared. Cooking every day can be a time-consuming task.
This article offers ten ideas for keeping your family mealtime less stressful. Try as many as you’d like. We hope these suggestions will simplify your meal times.
Be kind to yourself
Because your goal is to create a more simplified atmosphere surrounding your family’s mealtime routine, try to start planning uncomplicated menus. Think about the kinds of foods your children prefer, and if they like trying new things. You only need a plan to begin.
Organize your meal planning
Starting with a good plan and sticking with it will keep your daily mealtimes simple. If you’re the type who can plan for a whole month at a time, you are a star. For others, planning and shopping for one week is a great accomplishment. Choose at least four easy meals and make a shopping list. You may serve some meals twice, so make sure to buy the correct amount of ingredients.
One “pot” meals
Image credit: Community Table
Search for recipes that can be made in one pot. You will be surprised at the variety of meals that you can make with only a few ingredients, all of which can be tossed in one pot. The word “pot” was put in parenthesis because you can use a stock pot, a slow cooker, a hot pot, casserole dish, cast iron skillet, and so on.
Cook in batches
Batch cooking is preparing more food than you will use for one meal. You have the option to cook complete meals ahead of time, sides dishes or portions of the main dish. For example, if a family of four would normally eat one chicken breast each, bake eight chicken breasts. The extra four can be kept whole or shredded to be used in another recipe.
You can also cook enough vegetables for two or three meals, then use them as side dishes throughout the week.
Think healthy foods
Image credit: Star 2
There are so many foods in grocery stores that will heat up in 20 or 30 minutes. Those usually are full of preservatives and other things that may not be good for your body. Instead, plan your weekly menu with fresh vegetables and proteins. Raw foods will always be an excellent choice.
You set the timetable
Children have many reasons why they may not want to sit down and eat at dinner time. But keeping a set time for the evening meal, in particular, will help this time to remain calm and stable. There will be those times when an older teen or young adult has to work or has other activities planned. However, when they know there is an established time for dinner, they will respect that.
Self-storing table leaf
Image credit: Home and Timber
The kitchen table is one the most important pieces of furniture in your home. It’s the place where toddlers often sit to be near the parent who is cooking their meal. Older children sit at the table to draw pictures and eventually to do their homework. With such a multifunctional space, it’s important that it’s able to transition to the needs of you and your family.
Because of the ever shifting needs of our kitchen tables, it can be helpful if you can enlarge the table to accommodate extra guests who have come to join your family at mealtime. There are many types of table that come with self-storing table leaves, which come in handy to give you more room at the table to set out more side dishes or a few more place settings.
A family-focused time
On those days when your youngster is a little fussy and says they do not want to eat, let them know that’s OK. Don’t try to force them to eat, but let them know they must sit in their chair to join the rest of the family. Meal times are lovely sharing times. You could start a daily tradition where each person shares the favorite thing about the day. Give everyone a chance to participate, even the little ones.
If you often eat alone, spend the time reflecting on your day. Think through your activities of the day, your favorite things as well as those you need to adjust. Perhaps you would like to enter your thoughts into a journal.
Stock your freezer well
Maybe you have always been able to stick to your meal planning schedule. Even if you can do that, it is probable that there will come a day when you really don’t want to make what’s on that list. Choose a few easy menus that you can quickly make without giving it much thought.
Honestly, it’s alright when not everything works out the way you’d planned. Take a deep breath and remind yourself that although you’re attempting to create a more simple lifestyle in your home, there will be some days of chaos. Sometimes, the crazy times turn into precious family memories. Everyone has days, even weeks like that. Try to find the humor in your situation and smile. Your family will follow your lead. Even those stressful moments can turn into a fun time.
Spending quality time together will help the family remain a strong unit. These are times to discover some of the new likes and dislikes of your family members. For the young ones, they are learning how to listen and share, and learning good table manners by watching those demonstrated by their parents and older siblings. When children and teenagers regularly eat meals with their families, they tend to perform better in school. A balanced diet reflects in their physical and mental health.
Mealtime doesn’t need to be filled with complicated recipes. Fresh, healthy meals are enough to keep your family well-fed and satisfied. Keep your kitchen a happy and simple place where your focus is on each of the faces around your table. You can create joyful family memories together.