The hardest part of the day for me is dinner time. Probably for you too since that time of the day is called the “arsenic hour!” That’s because children are tired and hungry, your husband is tired and hungry and you are tired and hungry!
But preparing a home-cooked meal requires only an average of 34 minutes. And this builds huge memories and emotional well-being for your family. Because of this reason, we just can’t be too busy to eat well…or together.
Action Plan: 1. Learn to cook or perhaps, learn to cook differently. If you can learn how to sauté or stir-fry, you can make a variety of meals very quickly. If you don’t have time for cooking classes, YouTube has videos covering every technique you could imagine.
2. Set aside some time when you have the time. If you work during the week, then set aside a block of time during the weekend when you could shop and cook for most of the week. If you are home with children all day, have your husband take over one evening freeing you to shop and cook for the week.
3. Organize your kitchen. Literally, throw out everything you don’t use anymore and streamline your drawers and cabinets. This is the time to put all measuring cups, spoons and cooking items all in one place. Then, when you are ready to cook, it will be so much easier when everything is in one place.
4. Involve the kids! Especially now that its summer, this is the perfect time to teach them how to cook as well as how to help you. A 3-year-old can set the table and a 5-year-old can tear up lettuce for salads. Older kids, 12 and up, can prepare and cook full meals. Buy your child a cookbook that they pick out themselves and help them get started in learning how to cook.
5. Use a CrockPot. If you can get in the habit of putting something in one early in the day, the rest of the meal is a breeze.
6. Don’t think meals have to be difficult. I used to think I had to use lots of ingredients in every part of the meal for the meal to be good. Not! Now, I steam all my vegetables, grill or bake the meat or fish and make brown rice or another healthy starch and I’m finished. And remember that a salad with lots of vegetables and some meat is a meal in itself.
7. Not cooking works too! What I mean is, having dinner in the home is what is important, not whether you actually cooked it all yourself. I love to buy a prepared rotisserie chicken when I am too busy. It’s healthy and I can add steamed green beans and brown rice to make a full meal. Be creative in all the ways you can put a dinner together.
8. Set a definite time for the evening meal. Without a plan, we plan nothing so make a family rule of when dinner will be and that attendance is required. I know how hard it is with everyone in the family going in so many different directions. But, this window of opportunity is very tiny before your children leave home. Take the time and the energy to eat together.
9. Eating together really does change the atmosphere of a family and builds the emotional bonding with your children. If the dinner time is too difficult with everyone’s schedule then perhaps breakfast is the time the family can eat together. “A shared meal is one of the last bastions of ritual,” says Ted Allen, host of Food Network’s Chopped. “It gently reaffirms your affection for the people you feed.”
10. And invite the Lord to the table. Being all together is the perfect time to ask about everyone’s day, to pray together, to have a devotion together, to teach morals, manners, values and shared joys and problems. And a perfect time to reflect on all the Lord has done for you.
This is a good verse to motivate us into cooking more for our families.
Emotional Check-Up: For some reason, we either are or we feel that we need to be in a hurry all of the time. Is it because we think we have so much to do? Or, do we just put too much in our life and in our children’s lives? As I read through the Bible, I never once saw Jesus running to the next thing on His list. Maybe because He put His life in the hands of His Father?
Slowing down is the most direct route to the emotion of self-acceptance and to giving yourself what truly nourishes you.
Perhaps this week, we can pay more attention to slowing down; enjoying the life God has given us and spending more time with those we love.
Healthy Fit-Fact: Although we know not to give our children too much sugar, “about 10 percent of calories can be sugar,” says Nancy Clark, a sports nutritionist and the author of Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook. Since active children should be consuming around 2,000 calories a day, she says, that leaves them about a 200-calorie daily sugar allowance. The remaining calories should be more nutritional. So for snacking, stock peanut butter, English whole wheat muffins, yogurt, raisins, and cut-up fruit and vegetables.