Welcome It is very important to me that our family eat dinner together, at the dining room table, almost every night. Today, I’m going to talk about the benefits of eating dinner together as a family every night, and also what happens when that special time goes sideways! And speaking of sideways, I have two delicious side dishes to accompany your next family dinner. Thanks for stopping by! Note-I may receive a small compensation from advertisers and affiliate links found on this blog. For further information, please see my terms and disclosure page.
Food For Thought I make a lot of mistakes along my journey of parenting and marriage, but one thing that I am very proud of is our nightly meal times. Even when my husband and I were dating and he would join me at my apartment for dinner, we sat at the dining table. My old garage sale table that was actually in the living room because my apartment was so small…but still, we ate dinner at the table together and had conversation. The habit continued after we married, and it was even more important since he worked nights and I worked days. It was the only chance we had to spend time together during the week! When we bought our first house we actually had a dining room and we got brand new dining room furniture, knowing that it would be used almost every night. Twelve years later, that table is well-used, for family meals, birthday parties, Lego-building, board game playing, and craft and art projects galore. Of course, I love to think of the Christmas meals and birthday cakes that have been served on this table, which I happen to be sitting at right now to write today’s blog. But even more important to me is the fact that my husband and daughter and I sit at this table almost every night together and share dinner, whether it be hot dogs and French fries or pot roast and potatoes, and conversation. Occasionally we’ll camp out in front of a football game to eat or we’ll have a movie night and eat our pizza in the living room, but those are special events or celebrations in this house. We even eat lunch together at the table on the weekends. And it has nothing to do with messes. It’s all about bonding and sharing our days and lives with each other.
Research supports time at the family dinner table, too. The University of Florida IFAS Extension says to receive the benefits of family meal time, it should take place at least four times per week. There is evidence to support that it helps build children’s language and communication skills. You get to know your kids and spouse better by having engaging conversation without distractions (yes, that means leave the phone and devices in the other room!) Children are more likely to respect parent rules and boundaries because they feel they are being listened to more. It encourages healthier eating habits through parent modeling, but also eating is a thoughtful process, not mindless hand to face movements. Kids are also more likely to try new and healthier foods in this setting. Children of families that eat dinner together regularly also appear to have higher self-esteems (that sounds like my kid!) and less likely to engage in risky behaviors. Cornell University’s College of Human Ecology did a study that supported these findings, and additionally noted that teenage girls were less likely to have eating disorders and students performed better at school because there was more stability and routine at home. Health.com, WebMD, and Psychology Today all had articles that confirmed these facts for eating dinner together as a family. If you would like to read more, you may visit The Family Dinner Project.
So now we have all of these warm fuzzy feelings about spending time at the table with our family, serving up yummy and healthy foods, and carrying on joyful conversations, and our kids will be good at school, and life is great! Most of the time. Most of the time our family dinner time is a recap of our days, taking care of any reminders or family “business,” and since my husband and daughter both think they’re comedians, we have a lot of laughs too. But every now and then this all goes sideways…meaning “not good.” Maybe my husband is tired from a hot day at work, maybe my daughter is carrying around more 10-year-old attitude than usual, or maybe I don’t get the reaction I’m looking for when I share news from my day. Whatever it is, we can go from happily munching to silently sulking in a matter of a few minutes. Unfortunately, these few minutes then set the tone for the rest of the evening. Most recently, this happened a few nights ago at our house. We’re chatting and laughing and everything was fine. Suddenly, my husband started finding fault in everything our daughter was saying and snapping at her. She’s not perfect by any means, but I was frustrated that it seemed to be for no reason, so I said something about it. Then she said something kind of disrespectful, apparently to piggyback on what I had said. So then she gets in trouble for that, and in an instant our evening was spoiled. Sounds like real life, huh? It’s part of being a family, communicating, but sometimes our communication can get us into trouble. So we had a disappointing evening meal together, does that mean I give up on our family dinners? Of course not! The benefits and positive times together far out-weigh these rare sideways dinners. In the future, I won’t look back and think, remember that time we all got in a snit at the dinner table and everyone stopped talking to each other. No, we’ll look back and think about the laughter, smiles, and warm connection we felt when sharing these nightly dinners together.
Today’s Scriptures I love the book of Ephesians. It’s like a little instruction book for life. I often look to this book for practical advice for how to live my everyday life with my family. Here are some verses from this book that are great reminders for us when those family dinners, or any other family time, start to go sideways.
Ephesians 4:2 “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”
Ephesians 5:33 “However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”
Ephesians 6:1-4 “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother’ -which is the first commandment with a promise-‘that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on earth.’ Fathers, do not exasperate your children, instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”
Today’s Prayer Dear Lord, I ask You today to bless our times with our families. Bless our family dinners, car trips, errands, walks and talks, every moment we have to spend with one another, let us be patient with one another in love. Help us not take these times for granted, for they are short, and let us use the times for encouragement, training, and instruction. Help me to remember to respect my husband and his role as head of our home. We ask these things in Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Today’s Recipes In addition to eating at the dining table together most nights, I cook most every night. Some nights are “scratch” meals, some are semi-homemade, some are quick and convenient, but I prepare most of them myself. I grew up in a home that at least 90% of our meals were home-cooked and this usually meant meat and at least two sides. Honestly, that’s how most of my meals are, too, but I try not to double up on starches and sometimes our main dish is “meatless.” But I do try very hard to provide balance in our dinners, nutritionally speaking, but also with color and texture. Because of this, I put as much thought into my side dishes as I do the main dish, typically. For today’s Two For Tuesday I have two side dish options.
Loaded Mashed Potato Bake (6-8 servings)
- 8 medium russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
- 6 slices bacon
- 1 8-oz container of sour cream
- 1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup half-and-half
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp black pepper
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp onion powder
- 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- 2 TBS chopped fresh chives
- Heat oven to 400 degrees; spray casserole dish with cooking spray. Place cubed potatoes in large pot and cover with water; bring to boil. Once potatoes are boiling, turn down heat to medium and continue to cook 15-20 more minutes, or until fork tender. While potatoes are cooking, fry bacon to nice and crispy. Set cooked bacon on paper towel-lined plate to drain. Once potatoes are cooked, drain off water. To the potatoes add sour cream, butter, half-and half, and seasonings. Using a potato masher or portable electric mixer mash potatoes until creamy. Into the potatoes fold in 4 bacon strips, crumbled, 1 cup of the shredded cheddar, and 1 tablespoon of the chopped chives. Spread this potato mixture into prepared casserole dish. Top the potatoes with remaining cup of cheese, tablespoon of chives, and last 2 bacon strips, crumbled.Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, or until cheese is melted and potatoes are golden.
- Honey Orange Carrots (4-6 servings)1 pound carrots, peeled, washed, and cut into chunks
- 3/4 cup water
- 3/4 cup orange juice
- 1 TBS orange zest
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 2 TBS butter
- 2 TBS honey
- Combine all ingredients in large saucepan. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to a simmer and continue to cook 25-30 minutes or until carrots are fork tender.
Here are some products that may be helpful for this post-and yes, these are the products I used to prepare these dishes (links verified on 9/12/17 at 11:13 am CDT)