In a world that usually hurtles through color-coded family calendars at breakneck speeds, we find ourselves with the sudden unexpected sweet and salty gift of a hard halt. No club volleyball. Virtual business meetings. No coffee dates. Just you at home with the people you care most about with nowhere to go and nothing to do. This time comes with the challenge of navigating complicated emotions—from the grief of things lost to the relief of social pressures taken away and everything in between. It also comes with a bright side–an opportunity to form habits for which we’re usually too busy. If you’re one of the many people who wants more time around the table with your kids, we’ve compiled a list to help you have great family dinners together!
Like it or not, extra time at home is the reality for most of us, and the good news is we get to choose what to do with it. Many days will likely be filled with tablets and Netflix and boredom, and that’s ok. Other days will be filled with board games and science experiments and newly invented family activities, and that’s ok too! On every day, you and your family will need to eat. And if you’re like most parents (roughly 62%) with children under 18, you probably wish your family ate more meals together. The benefits of family meals together are numerous and well documented—including lower obesity rates in children and decreased high risk behaviors in teens.
What Happened to Family Dinners?
With all of these positive results, why aren’t we eating family dinners? Simple. We’re busy. The majority of parents who say they’d like to have more family dinners cite conflicting schedules within the family as the main reason they don’t. Maybe that reason resonates all too well with you. If so, the saying holds true—there’s no time like the present! Here at Tacoma Boys and H&L Produce, we value your family’s health and well being, and we have everything you need to make family dinners a success! Here are some tips to help you establish and keep a family dinner routine.
5 Tips for Successful Family Dinners
1. Keep It Simple
The most important thing about family dinners is the time spent together! So don’t get bogged down by the pressure of creating a masterpiece every night. Some days dinner might be chicken piccata and other days it will be chicken nuggets. At the end of the day, if your family is together and fed, put it in the win column. Don’t forget sandwiches count! Come by our deli for deliciously fresh sliced roast beef or honey baked ham to give your homemade sandwiches a gourmet flare. To make things a bit easier, try keeping a few pre-made sides in the freezer. Swing by one of our locations and grab a bag of frozen cauliflower rice or sweet potato fries in our frozen food section. That way, all you have to worry about is the main course, and family dinner still feels complete!
2. Plan Ahead
Nothing will torpedo your efforts quicker than failure to plan. One of the best ways to set yourself up for a successful family dinner routine is to set aside an hour one day to think about what’s for dinner the rest of the week. You don’t have to have all the details ironed out, but a general idea and a shopping list will keep you from panicking and ordering pizza by Wednesday. Try to reward yourself by planning one or two extra easy meals for yourself, like cordon-bleu chicken bakes from our deli. Minimum work for you, but a meal your whole family will rave about.
3. Find Your Rhythm
Finding your rhythm goes together with planning ahead. It can be daunting to answer the question “what’s for dinner?” week after week, and it can seem like you’re reinventing the wheel. With all the options and recipes out there, it’s easy to feel like you have to try something new and different every night. You don’t! Chances are, you have 10-14 meals your family loves and you’ve mastered. It’s ok to put them on a rotation. Or write a simple schedule out as a template for your weekly dinner rhythm. It might look something like this:
Having a list like this in the back of your mind gives you inspiration for meal ideas your family will love. It also gives you the flexibility to change it up within categories and peruse weekly specials for great deals. Consider putting our fresh steelhead fillets from Norway on this week’s rotation…you won’t regret it!
4. Loosen Up
This tip may seem contrary to the previous two, but they actually go hand in hand. Think of your meal plan and rhythm as guidelines—inspiration to make your dinner decisions easier. But pressure to stick to the plan perfectly adds an unnecessary level of difficulty to family dinners that can make them feel like more trouble than they’re worth. Your dinners should work for your life. And flexibility can make sure they do. If you were saving tacos for Tuesday, but everybody is craving them Monday, make Taco Monday a thing! If frozen pizza was for Sunday, but you’re short on time tonight, tonight’s the perfect night for pizza.
Try leaving one day of the week open for whatever suits your mood. This works especially well on grocery shopping days when you can buy whatever looks good at the store. Keeping it loose will ensure dinner is a stress free experience for everyone, especially you.
5. Don’t Forget Your Veggies
One of the great benefits to family dinner—besides time together—is health. Family dinners at home are the best way to model healthy eating habits for your kids. It’s easy to incorporate a vegetable into dinner, and including at least one can help determine a side every night. You don’t have to force vegetables, but including them in your daily routine helps your family understand that they’re part of a healthy lifestyle. At Tacoma Boys and H&L Produce, you’ll always find the most quality local produce and knowledgeable employees to point you in the right direction.
Where to Shop for Great Family Dinners?
In order to set yourself up for a successful family dinner habit, you need to arm yourself with excellent ingredients. When you choose Tacoma Boys and H&L Produce, you can rest assured your family dinners will be full of quality main courses and produce you can feel great about. Whether you have a shopping list and a plan or need some inspiration, we’re here for you. Stop by one of our locations and get what you need for your family dinners today!