Friday, April 13, 2012

Family Dinner Friday

Here's the first of a new series of easy to make, throw down meals that anybody can make.  Throughout this series Kiera will be talking with different families who will be sharing their favorite throw down meals with us.  The idea here is to learn how other families do 'family dinner' while possibly learning some new favorite recipes.

First Family Dinner Friday Meal:  The Chambers Family :)

We all know it...sitting down at the dinner table eating dinner together as a family is important!
We know there are statistics about how eating diner together is good for our families...we've heard them numerous times

  • gives our children better grades
  • they're less likely to try drugs and alcohol
  • less likely to have an eating disorder
  • their more likely to abstain from sexual behaviors
  • have lower cases of depression and ADD or ADHD
  • higher levels of self esteem
  • kids eat healthier foods
  • families save money on grocery/food bills
  • and countless other positives

If we know these facts then why do an overwhelming percent of American households still not eat dinner together?
And by together I mean TOGETHER...
in the same room,
at the same table,
no TV,
no cell phones,

no texting,
no iPads,
no Kindles, etc...
together physically and emotionally.

we don't do it because:

  • it's too hard
  • schedules are all over the, softball, tennis, piano, church, bible study, 
  • kids are picky eaters
  • mom's tired
  • dad's tired
  • parents don't know how to cook
  • parents don't like cooking
  • don't have any food in the house

I get it...I'm there half of the time...
But I know it's I've made it a priority for our family.
We do dinner our kitchen table...with all 4 family members...about 4-5 times a week...
Does my family love all my meals?
Does my family eat all their veggies?
Do we have the Leave-it-to-Beaver family moments with kids faces freshly polished, me in my apron and pearls, and Mr Cleaver Beau sitting at the head of the table in his dinner jacket all talking in nice quiet voices about how wonderful our day was and everyone using their table manners perfectly?

All that being said...we still do it.  It's important to both of us to have dinner together as a family so we just make it happen...

Anyways...Beau and I wanted to start a new series here on Redding First Families, Family Dinner Friday,

where I will interview people in our church about their dinner time schedules and get favorite family meal from them.
This will give us all a window into the lives of other families and see how they make dinner happen at their tables.  Help us see that we shouldn't ditch the family meal just because it's not a Leave-it-to-Beaver moment.

and imagine that...we just happen to be the first family for our Family Dinner Friday post...

Question:  How many people are in your family and the ages of the kids?  
Answer:  We have 4 people, two adults and an 11 yr old girl and 6 1/2 year old boy.

Q: How many times a week do you eat dinner as a family?
4-5 times depending on the week.

Q: Do you have picky eaters in your family?
A:  Yes, we're all picky...our daughter was a self imposed vegetarian for years (not for sympathetic reasons, she thought beef had squishy parts, chicken had stringy parts, & pork taste like poison. She eats beef and chicken for the most part now, but she still stands her ground on the whole pork taste like poison thing!), our son who always ate everything is now deciding he doesn't like many things and would be happy to live off pizza and nachos for the rest of his life.  Beau was a very picky eater when we married, about the only vegetables he liked was green beans and peas and peas are the one vegetable I can't stand!  Now Beau eats many different veggies including asparagus and broccoli.  I can be picky when it comes to textures of foods and both our daughter and I have food aversions based on negative food experiences, like getting sick after eating something.

Q:  Do you have any weekly activities that make dinner together hard?
We have church every Wednesday and then piano on Thursday.  I use to pack up dinner and take it to church on Wednesday so we could eat as a family at church but that wasn't working.  Now Beau has made it a priority to be home most Wednesday's early evenings and I have to menu plan and plan a fast easy meal for Wednesday nights so we can sit down for a fast meal together, usually it's something out of the crock-pot or burritos...about 70% of Wednesday nights we eat burritos!
Sunday's are also hard for me.  It's a work day for both Beau and I and then we usually go out to lunch after church, so then we might get home around 2 or 3 and then dinner was always sneaking up on me.  So just recently I have instituted a new family tradition of popcorn for dinner on Sunday's.  Yep, we have popcorn for dinner and then usually cheese or fruit to go along with it, and we camp out on the living room floor and watch a movie or AFV (American's Funniest Video' on Netflix).

Q:  Do you ever feel like NOT making dinner?
A: Almost every night.  People think that because I do make dinner that I like to cook.  I don't mind cooking, but really it's not my favorite thing to do, I'd much rather make dessert than dinner.  And then half the time I really, really don't want to cook at all...What helps me is menu planning and grocery shopping off the menu.  If I have a menu (which is not nearly often enough) then I'm on top of it, I will know that morning what I plan to make for dinner, I might put it in the crock pot or just get the meat out of the freezer...but know is half the battle.  I hate the clock hitting 4:30 and I still haven't thought of dinner yet...but no fear...that's a Brinner night (Breakfast for dinner)...we eat Brinner at least once a week.  We also have Left-Over-Buffet...I pull all the leftovers out of the fridge, put them on the counter and everyone gets to choose what they're eating for dinner...
So with Sunday night popcorn dinner, Brinner, and Left-Over-Buffet that leaves only 4 nights that I have to really think about dinner!  And it's still hard!

Q:  Have you found something that makes dinner together easier?
A:  The crock pot is my friend.  And we also eat dinner with some friends once a week (when both of our schedules allow).  We have some family friends that we swap eating at each other's houses about once a week, together we figure out what we'll have for dinner, what each of us can contribute to the meal and then we just get it done.  Some nights the wives make the dinner and the husbands clean up and then some nights the husbands make dinner and the wives clean up.
I also try to have the kids pick a meal, maybe not weekly, but at least twice a month the meal is something they wanted, and helped in the preparation of.  Our son has always loved helping in the kitchen, but more recently our daughter has loved making almost the whole meal and the pride she has when we sit down to one of her meals is great!

Q:  What is something you think is important about eating together?
A:  Besides all the benefits of communication with our kids, I also love the responsibilities that my kids have learned with dinner together.  They will set the table, help with dinner prep, and they they must clean up their dinner dishes and help with overall dinner clean up.  They put the leftovers away, they rinse dishes and put them in the dishwasher (maybe not perfectly, but then we'll show them the right way), they wipe the table and counters off and sweep the floor.  All these things wouldn't happen if we were all eating at different times and places in the home!

Q:  Do you have any major dinner time rules?
NO tv and NO phones.  When/if a phone rings during dinner we just let it ring...the world will not end if we don't answer the phone.  This has taught our children that they are important, that us sitting down together is as a family is more important than whoever is on the other end of the phone.  And will set the bar for them as teenagers, knowing that they won't be able to answer a phone call from a friend during dinner won't be devastating, it is just how family dinners have always been!

Q:  Where do you grocery shop?  And who does the grocery shopping in your family?
WinCo for most everything, with a few things from Trader Joe's (I like to get lunch snacks and my frozen chicken breast from TJ).  I do the shopping, when I drag Beau along it's tortuous for all involved!

Q: And what is one of your favorite throw-down meals (a meal that doesn't take much time to throw together/down)?
taco salad...check out the fancy China...aka Dixie paper plates

A:  Taco Salad...or really anything with taco meat...burritos, nachos, taco's

Taco Salad  
(all of this is so easily adaptable for individual families tastes, all the veggies/toppings below are just suggestions, if you just have one or 2 you can still throw this meal together)
1/2 lb Meat (ground beef or chicken or 1 chicken breast)
1 package taco seasoning
1 package onion soup mix
1 can black beans; rinsed and drained
1 can pinto beans; rinsed and drained
1 can corn or 1-2 ears fresh corn
Varitey of veggies your family will eat: tomatoes, peppers, onions, cilantro, olives, jicama, avocado, olives, etc
corn chips (like Frito's)
grated cheese (cheddar or mexi blend)
ranch dressing
sour cream

1.  Cook meat thoroughly (beef until it's brown and chicken until the juices run clear.)  I will either brown the ground beef on the stove top or cook 1 chicken breast in the microwave.
2.  Season meat with the taco seasoning mix & onion soup mix.  If using a chicken breast shred it up with a fork.

3.  Cut all the veggies and place everything on the table for dinner.
aren't they sweet?

4.  Everyone gets to make their own salad with whatever they want.

3 cheers for taco salad
5.  Save leftovers for left-over-buffet...taco's, nacho's, burritos, quesadillas, etc
leftovers...yum !
And there you have it...a Chambers Family Throw Down Meal!

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