The Family Dinner Hour

Leigh Anne Wilkes photo

Leigh Anne’s number one priority has been and will always be her family.

She also feels strongly that it is possible for women to incorporate all of their interests, goals and ambitions into a balanced life.

She loves working with women and helping to inspire them to achieve their goals and dreams while still maintaining motherhood and family as their number one priority.

She has been a homebased mom for 25 years since her first baby boy was born!  She has been married to hubby Jim for 28 years and is mom to Logan, 25, Clark, 23, Calista, 20 and Tessa 16.  She has run various types of homebased businesses – from selling crafts,  teaching children’s sewing classes and for the past 19 years a direct sales business. She has been fortunate enough to receive numerous national and regional awards in personal sales, recruiting and leader development.  She is  a top leader in her company.

In her spare time Leigh Anne loves reading, gardening, scrapbooking, photography and entertaining.

I grew up in the 60’s and 70’s (yes, I turn 50 this month!), in a middle class, Midwestern home, where every evening at 5:30 p.m. our family had dinner together.  At the time this wasn’t that unusual, most of the families in our neighborhood were doing the exact same thing.

Yes, life was a little slower back then and children weren’t involved in 20 different activities on a weekly basis. Because both my husband and I grew up eating dinner together as a family it has always been an important part of our family dynamic.

We have learned to be a little more flexible (o.k., so it may not happen EVERY night) and creative (more on that in a minute) as a result of the life style we live today but it is still something that can happen – it just takes a bit of planning and creativity!

In a newspaper article I read they gave some pretty amazing statistics in favor of eating dinner together as a family – The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University in NY found that the more children eat dinner with their families, the less likely they are to smoke, drink and use drugs.

Now I know that eating dinner together as a family is no guarantee that your children will never get involved in smoking, drinking or drugs but it can help and it can’t hurt!

What use to be referred to as the “family dinner hour”, is now more like the “family dinner 15 minutes.”   I’m not sure the amount of time is as important as the fact that you do connect and share that time and food together.

I have learned different methods and strategies over the years that have enabled us to eat dinner together as a family – at least the majority of the time.

Now I must admit, especially when the kids were smaller, sometimes the family dinner time was enjoying (I use the term loosely) a Happy Meal in the car together on the way home from soccer practice, sometimes it was a frozen pizza eaten standing up around the counter, or a grilled cheese sandwich but we were eating together!

Nowadays, with only one child left at home and a long list of after school activities and jobs on top of that it would be so easy to not worry about the family dinner hour.

No matter what the season your family is in, the point is that you make the best of the situation you have and that you are connecting as a family as often as you can, even if it’s only part of the family.  When my husband travels, it would be easy to let the family dinner slide because there is just me and my daughter but we still sit down and eat together (it may be takeout but we eat together)

After 28 years of fixing and planning family dinners I have learned a few tips and tricks that make consistent family dinners easier.

  1. Have a well stocked pantry.  For a complete list of what I keep in my pantry check out this post on my blog.

Being prepared is half the battle!  It’s hard to fix dinner when there is no food in the house.

2.  Have a plan! There are several ways to do this.  If you don’t have a supply of favorite family recipes or don’t like having to decide what to eat every night you may want to use a menu planning service, there are quite a few available.  For a list go here.

Each month/week a menu list complete with recipes and grocery shopping list are sent to your inbox – how easy is that!

At our house we have put all of our family favorite recipes into a binder.

along with a list of favorite dinner ideas.   Keeping your recipes organized and in one place with a list of family favorites is a huge help when it comes to deciding what’s for dinner

Sitting down with your list of family favorites once a week or once a month to plan out the menus saves lots of time and lots of trips to the grocery store!  Knowing what’s for dinner every morning, before your day begins, can reduce the stress that meal planning and the family dinner hour can bring!

If you are like me and enjoy introducing new recipes into your family’s dinner repertoire on a regular basis I’d love for you to visit me at my blog, Your Homebased Mom for lots of  new recipe ideas – all tested in my kitchen!

3.  Choose a theme – having a different theme for each day of the week can work well too and make decisions easier.

Rice Sunday (stir fry with broccoli)

Pasta Monday  (Spaghetti)

Crockpot Tuesday (Beef Stew)

Mexican Wednesday (Soft Taco Bar)

Easy Oven Thursday (Frozen Pizza)

Grill Friday (Hamburgers)

Chicken Saturday (Baked Chicken Breast)

There are lots of options available, even if you eat the same thing every night of the week, the important thing is you are eating it together – as a family!

Please visit Leigh Anne at her blog  Your Homebased Mom where she blogs on a regular basis sharing some of her family’s favorite recipes!

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