For many, enjoyable family mealtime has been lost in our overscheduled lives where school, work and extracurricular activities can make it difficult to find time to eat together and some families can go for days or weeks without sitting down together to share a meal. However, family meals are important as it is quality time that we spend bonding with our loved ones and enquire about each other’s lives. Thus, here are some handy tips on how to ensure that you and your family get some enjoyable family meals!
Create a Meal that Reflects your Ethnic or Cultural Heritage
Do you have any family recipe that is passed down from your grandparents’ or great-grandparents’ culture? Do some food research with your kids to find out what your ancestors might have eaten in an earlier timeframe. If you do have a family recipe, time to pass it down to your children. Preparing a culture-based meal provides a great opportunity to bring out photos of relatives and tell family stories. You can also bring some good history books and atlases to the table and discuss the historical context for your relatives’ emigration (or your own).
Designate Certain Night for Certain Foods
Regularity and predictability in food routine tend to get kids excited as they look forward to them. It is also a way to teach children decision-making skills. They will also feel that their opinions are respected. It is a way to make them feel included in family decisions. Dinner is a great place to give them a chance to make choices that affect the whole family. In a way, it is a form of establishing new family ritual around food.
Gather Around One Pot
Be it fondue, shabu shabu or any other sort of hotpot dish, this meal is not possible without having family members gather around and be a part of sharing and cooking a meal together. Eating out of the same pot encourages eye contact, plus you will also be able to share the platter of dipping sauces. This allows the family member to build a bond and spend more time together. Prep work is definitely less of a hassle!
Assemble Dinner Together
Another easy way to make dinner more engaging is to let each person customise his or her meal. Just prepare a base food and encourage each person to add to their own toppings. Self-assembled dinner is fun and less formal and is particularly good for picky kids. It also encourages culinary creativity. You can combine unusual food together to form new food such as using cereal as toppings for pizza.
Turn off technology
Smartphones maybe addictive but it should not be a distraction during family meals. Have conversation openly with your family members about setting phone-free zone during family mealtimes. Emphasise the importance of family time and how phone snubbing can affect it. Creating a fine-jar is a great way to get the whole family to adopt better behaviours. Whenever someone uses a device at dinner time, make them put a dollar in the jar. At the end of the year, you will have not only minimised phone snubbing, but you’ll have some fun money to spend as a family!
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Photo Credits: Northern Virginia Magazine, Nyonya Cuisine, Hungry Health Happy.com, Sun Life Financial Indonesia, Pinterest, Fatherly and Redmart