Back to School Dinner Solutions

lasagna-soup

Parenting & Kids | August 27, 2015 | By

For many of us September signifies the start to a new school year and combined with extracurricular activities your quality family time dwindles. Don’t let additional responsibilities discourage you from getting a great meal on the table – instead continue to enjoy homemade family dinners with the help of Dream Dinners.

These dinners are great in the crockpot.

  • NEW! Slow Cooked Lasagna Soup with Parmesan Breadsticks
  • Honey Chipotle Pork Roast With Almond Green Beans

These dinners cook in under 30 minutes plus they travel well for a quick dinner on-the-go.

  • Pulled Pork BBQ Sandwiches on French Roll
  • Chicken Bacon Ranch Stuffed French Bread
  • Carne Asade Steak Tacos

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Get Your Kids in the Kitchen

DD_Pizza_Night-102-blog feature

Did you know that kids learn about food and eating at a very young age? That getting your kids involved in the kitchen can help shape their eating habits for the rest of their lives. Positive experiences about food early on in a child’s life may help them develop healthy eating habits in the future. A recent study found that children who are exposed to cooking through culinary classes or aiding a parent or family member in preparing their meals in their home will be more likely to choose healthier foods not only in your own home, but when they are outside of your home, too. Researchers also found that the children who were involved in meal preparation had a higher intake of fruits, vegetables and dietary fiber and an increased willingness to try new foods.

Need some fun ways to get your kids involved in the kitchen? Try these tips for all ages:

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Meeting Non-Talkative Teenagers Where They Are

As they hit the high school years, moms of teens know our once chatty kids can become aloof or too busy to connect. They have irregular work hours, a challenging class load, and are busy with friends and dates.

There are moments though, to capture.

Make a point to greet your teen when they get home, even if it’s an odd time.  My son’s curfew was 11:30PM, so I always stayed up to say, “hello” when he arrived. If he got home from work at 8:30PM and was ravaging through the refrigerator for something to eat, I would sit down with him while he ate.

When my teen did homework, I’d offer to help. Sometimes we’d do

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Fill up your Summer Season with Fruits and Vegetables

Summer is the perfect time to focus on eating plenty of delicious, ripe seasonal fruits and vegetables.

Fruits and vegetables are loaded with disease defying vitamins, minerals and fiber.  An adequate intake is good for your skin, immune system, digestion, and will help ward off high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes.

Often our lifestyle goals focus on what not to eat; what if we tried the opposite? How about increasing our produce intake?

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Dinnertime Ground Rules

While visiting from out-of-town, Grandma (my mom), was having breakfast with us when her cell phone rang. This was a predicament for the kids who turned to me wondering what I’d do (knowing we don’t allow cell phones at the table). Since Grandma has disregarded our house rule before, I thought it a good time to kindly ask, “Do you mind not answering that?”  She looked at me, thought for a ring, and then answered it anyway!  We sat trying to enjoy our meal while she carried on a conversation with someone else at the table. She eventually got up and walked away.  But, by then, everyone was nearly done and our ‘quality time’ felt spoiled.

Now, Grandma LOVES her grandchildren. She didn’t realize what affect her choice had on us. No doubt, we’ve all made decisions that have been detrimental to quality mealtimes together. The point of having dinnertime ground rules is to enjoy one another.  Although unfortunate, this experience taught my kids a little lesson on why we don’t allow cell phones at the table – and I didn’t have to preach.

Since I’m making the effort of prioritizing family meals, it’s important to guard our time from unwelcome interference.  Although some meals feel like ‘eat-and-run,’ I want to make room for more: real discussion and heartwarming laughter.

When eating together, try these mealtime ground rules:

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Are you a Skillful Listener? Learn to O.W.L.

family talking and listeningWould you like to really know how someone feels or what they’re thinking? We ask the question, “How are you?” all day long, but do we really know how a co-worker, spouse, or even our children are doing? Just Observe, Wait, and Listen (OWL), it’s that easy!

We adapt this approach from Speech Pathologists who began using OWL in language development. It’s a valuable communication tool for us all.

OWL encourages us to notice what has captured other’s interest and to patiently wait as they communicate about it.  Listening shows people their value.  When we aim first to hear what’s on their mind, rather than dominating conversation with our thoughts and opinions, we’ll discover just how much we’ve been missing!

Tonight, at your family dinner, I challenge you to OWL.

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Empowering your Kids to Cook

teaching kids to cookIt’s fun to see a renewed interest in nutrition, cooking, and canning in this generation of  20-somethings. Yet, many of this age group have been left behind in being taught how to cook.  A generation ago 80% of Baby Boomers could cook from their pantry without a recipe; today 20% of their children can prepare a meal from scratch.

Teaching kids to cook isn’t difficult and provides them with lifelong skills.  As the old adage goes, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach him how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”  You’d be surprised what children can learn at a young age with a bit of coaching. Soon, they’ll have skills that will serve them for a lifetime.

Follow this model for a helpful way to train kids to cook:

  1. You show them, while they watch you
  2. Do it together
  3. They show you, while you watch them

Here’s what your budding chefs can learn:

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Mother’s Day is May 11th

mothers dayWhat mom wouldn’t love a freezer full of meals to make dinners nutritious and easy for a whole month?

Here are some fun options to make Mom smile with Dream Dinners on Mother’s day or any special day:

  • Sit down at the computer together and let Mom select her meals while you pick up the tab.
  • For a fun night out, take Mom to a Dream Dinners’ session and prepare meals together.  Then, put them all in her freezer when you bring her home.
  • Surprise Mom with a bag of homemade meals you deliver to her front door.
  • If mom lives far away, purchase a gift card online and we’ll mail it to her or send her an e-card (your choice). We suggest $75 for our Introductory Offer (for first time guests) or $200 for ~ a month’s supply!

Wow, a freezer full of meals – this will be a gift she’ll remember!

Ending the Picky Eater’s Power Struggle

picky eatersThe Battle’s On
Your child might be winning now, but, losing later to finicky habits and poor nutrition.

Picky eaters can turn rational parents into obsessed, battle-weary, rationalizing, bargaining, pleading, crazy people!  Whew, I’m worn-out just from describing it! We’re afraid our ‘little darlings’ will never eat balanced meals and will become malnourished skeletons, vanishing away like a puddle on a sunny day. I know; I’ve butted up against my share of picky strong-willed wonders. Someone’s cornered, and it feels like me!

Tough Love is not Mean
If you’ve done your due diligence with the family MD and he’s assured you they’re not going to die, then maybe it’s time to heighten your strategy and offer a little tough love. Although very cute, picky eaters are typically masters of the power struggle. If this is your child, read on.

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Helping your Kids Have a Hospitable Heart

hospitality in kidsThere’s something so heartwarming to see my kids practice hospitality as young adults. As parents we spend years teaching them to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you,’ among a host of other manners, so it’s nice to know it eventually pays off!

Arrive with a gift in hand.
Besides the usual table manners regarding napkins, elbows, and full mouths, I taught my kids to never go to a party empty-handed. They would always bring something to share like a bag of chips or soda. Today, it warms my heart when my daughter makes grandma dinner and my son brings her flowers.  Recently, my son went to a friend’s in Eastern Washington and I asked him what he brought. After mentioning donuts and some other items he chirped,

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