Tips to keep your Family Dining Pledge!

September 6th, 2013 by Live Well Omaha Kids

Tips to keep your Family Dining Pledge!

By guest blogger, Jennifer Allen. Jennifer lives in Omaha with her husband and their 5-year-old twins. She and her family recently took the Live Well Omaha Kids Family Dining Pledge. Jennifer shares her story and tips to help other families keep their pledge. 

Our family pledged to cook and eat at home one more night each week – this one was easy to do! As a family, we almost always eat together at home, minus when my husband has to work longer evenings.  jenniferallen1

Eating at home is pretty much a given for us. With my husband being a former chef and myself a pastry chef, we know the value of healthy eating, and the money you save by preparing meals at home. I know that when we eat at home, our children are getting more fruits and veggies, healthy grains like quinoa and brown rice, and less processed foods that are typically found on kid’s menus at restaurants.

The biggest challenge is trying to find time to do it. I am fortunate enough that I am able to pick the children up from school and usually have two hours before dinner to prepare. But on days when we have dance and swimming, planning ahead on Sundays makes all the difference. Doing the grocery shopping on the weekend and planning out what we’ll have for the week works for us a majority of the time. I usually try to make a meal that we can have leftovers out of, or I’ll double a recipe and freeze half and we can enjoy it later. Having a meal that will feed us twice means I only have to cook three times during the week!

To include the whole family, the children are in charge of setting the table including silverware, napkins, vitamins, milk, and condiments, if necessary. I’ll have them help with peeling carrots or cucumbers, mashing bananas, stirring wet/dry ingredients together, or getting out ingredients for the recipes.

Unexpected benefits

I was surprised to find after taking the Family Dining Pledge and really concentrating on dining together as a family, that my children are more receptive to trying new things. I can’t say they like it all the time, but they try it. And after quite a few times of trying some things, they like them! Mushrooms were out of the question, just as canned diced tomatoes, but we didn’t give up or omit them, and now both kids like them.

Conversation startersjenniferallen2

There never seems to be any shortage of conversation around our table with two 5 year olds! But, when we sit down for a meal, we always say grace, and then take turns going around the table saying what we are thankful for that day. This is a great way to find out what is on your kids’ minds, and teaches them to be grateful for what they have.

Healthy eating and cooking tips:

  • Start with recipes that are simple and familiar. If your family likes pizza, make homemade pizza and add one new ingredient, like mushrooms or spinach on the bottom.
  • If you make a meal, double the recipe so you have one less dinner to worry about that week.
  • Don’t give children pop. They don’t need it. They need milk at every meal, and water in between meals with snacks. Healthy children start with healthy parents.
  • Trade potato chips for nuts and dried fruit.
  • Make sandwiches on 100% whole wheat bread.
  • Give your child oatmeal, scrambled eggs with cheese, or Kashi cereal instead of sugary cereals or pop-tarts for breakfast.
  • Take care of your children, and in turn they will grow and flourish like the beautiful gifts they are!
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