Ideas for Family Meals
It’s a busy time of year. Perhaps you’ve come home from summer travel, your children are starting back to school, or you’re returning to your three jobs of parent, worker, and home virtual teaching assistant. If you haven’t yet set up a weekly grocery order for automatic delivery or pick up, your refrigerator may look like this, or worse:
It helps to plan ideas for family meals to fall back on.
Healthy Family Meals
The Columbia University Center for Addiction and Substance Abuse says frequent family dinners are a way to strengthen the relationship between parent and child, which in turn reduces the likelihood that teenagers will abuse drugs and alcohol. https://www.centeronaddiction.org/addiction-research/reports/importance-of-family-dinners-2010
Regular family meals improve the mental health of teenagers, whether they like talking to their parents or not, according to research in the Journal of Adolescent Health. Canadian researchers examined the relationship between the frequency of family dinners and mental health in a sample of 26,069 teens ages 11 to 15 years. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jadohealth.2012.07.012
They identified a positive mental health effect among those who regularly had family dinners, regardless of their gender, age or socioeconomic level.
“More frequent family dinners related to fewer emotional and behavioural problems,
greater emotional well-being, more trusting and helpful behaviours towards others and higher
That probably makes sense to you, but still, how to make it happen? Here is a quick and easy dinner idea.
Chicken Dinner Ideas
- Spray a baking pan with oil and throw down pieces of unfrozen chicken. Breasts, legs, thighs, whatever. Skin on and bone in preferably. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and whatever seasoning in the cupboard looks good.
- Turn the oven on 350° and put the chicken in. Set your timer for one hour.
- Grab some potatoes, carrots, onions, and garlic cloves. You know how many people you have to feed, so figure out how many of each.
- Cut the potatoes into halves, then quarters, then 1 ½ inch wedges. Dump in a big mixing bowl.
- Wash the carrots and cut into 2 inch sections. DO NOT USE BABY CARROTS! BABY CARROTS ARE MY PET PEEVE.
- Cut the onions the same way as the potatoes, dice the garlic cloves.
- Put all in the bowl. Pour olive oil over the vegetables, then sprinkle with salt, pepper, and dried rosemary. Stir.
- Pour the vegetables on a cookie sheet, spread into a single layer. Put in oven.
Chicken Dinner Ideas, Part 2
- Fix yourself a glass of ice water.
- Turn off the TV. Shut down the computers. Silence all cell phones. Hide them in a drawer.
- Sit down, prop up your feet, and drink a glass of water.
- If you have a spouse/partner, look at him/her and think of something to say that does not involve work, children, in-laws or money. Talk.
- If you have children and your partner is not yet home, invite the children to play a game of Uno, dominoes, or go fish. They will be shocked. Don’t worry, the timer is ticking. You only have to do this for an hour.
11. If you have teenagers, ask them to turn the radio, streaming service, etc. to a channel they like. After they get over their shock, listen to their chosen channel. After a while, say something bland like “I don’t recognize the artist. Do you know anything about them?” Listen. Nod your head. Say Uh hunh. Don’t worry, you only have to do this for an hour.
12. If you have a partner AND children, tell him/her how much the children care about him/her.
13. If you live alone, go for a walk or sit in a rocking chair and think pleasant thoughts.
Enjoy Each Day
“Life is too short to wake up with regrets. So love the people who treat you right. Forget about those who don’t. Believe everything happens for a reason. If you get a chance, take it. If it changes your life, let it. Nobody said life would be easy, they just promised it would most likely be worth it.”
Count your blessings. Write them down, if you haven’t yet written in your journal today.
More Chicken Dinner Instructions
- When the over timer goes off, grab an orange or an apple and slice onto a plate. If you like to overachieve, do a pinwheel of alternating slices of apple, orange, and avocado, like so:
- Cut into the chicken to make sure it’s done. If you see pinkish juice it’s not done. Cook longer, and remove from oven when all pinkness is gone.
- Sit at a table and eat dinner from a plate. Say something to the people with you. Smile. Laugh.
If you have children, and you sit around a dining table together for twenty minutes three or four times a week, you are exceptional! Celebrate your success, and keep up the good work. I hope these simple ideas for family meals help you build rituals of togetherness with those you love.
©2020 Healthy Habits Communications LLC
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