Barbecue doesn’t just satisfy the appetite. It brings a smile to everyone’s face! That’s why it’s important to rally together the family for an outdoor BBQ every once and a while. Family meal planning can help you get everyone involved in cooking, and eating, your family BBQ. Whether you’re cooking a 4th of July feast or you’re just having the immediate family over for an impromptu dinner, take these tips into account before your next BBQ, family meal planning venture:
Coordinate a pot luck so that you don’t have to cook all the sides. Have aunts, cousins, and nieces each bring something: a coleslaw, fresh fruit salad, pasta salad, fresh greens salad, potato salad, and desserts! If no one wants to take dessert duty, just set up an ice cream sundae bar with bananas, whipped cream, hot fudge, sprinkles, and, most importantly, vanilla bean ice cream.
Get your family’s input when choosing a cut of meat. St. Louis ribs (pork spareribs that have been trimmed of rib tips, skirt meat, and point), baby back ribs, country-style ribs, Skirt steak (lose grain and intensely beefy, diaphragm muscle of the steer, used in fajitas), and pork spareribs (taken from the belly of the hog and cut close to the rib to leave the belly intact).
Divide up the responsibilities: Try making a meal plan, that lists each person in the family and their individual task. If one person can’t cook, they’re on dish duty. Other responsibilities may include going to the butchers and buying the meat, making the grocery list, or manning the grill.
Keep steak tips in mind when cooking up steak: Different cuts of steak cook at different times, so just make sure you look up the best way to cook up your steak. Some cooks rely on the “touch test.” According to Saveur magazine, “A rare steak is supposed to feel like the fleshy triangle of skin between the thumb and index finger of a relaxed hand; that same spot on a fist matches the firmness of a medium steak; if you want it well done, compare it to the feel of the tip of your nose.” While this may be a great option for some, get an instant-read thermometer if you want to judge the “doneness” of the steak.
If you keep these tips in mind, you’ll have a great BBQ filled with family fun. Give your family some bonding time this summer with a wonderful barbecue dinner complete with Southern-style sides and a dessert for an event to remember.
For some of us, eating seasonally is a no-brainer. You can save plenty of money on your produce by going straight to the seasonal stuff whenever you can. Even further, shopping seasonally is better for the environment and beneficial to the local economy. When you shop seasonally, your food is traveling shorter distances and, therefore, fewer pollutants are emitted in the process. The best part? Seasonal fruits taste better, too! While seasonal products do vary slightly from state to state, generally, the US has pretty standard seasonal produce cycles. Here are examples of seasonal produce for each season, with meals for each one:
Broccoli: Try making a warm broccoli casserole, or pair some broccoli rabe with Italian sausages and polenta.
Sweet Potatoes: Sweet potatoes are great in the winter time. Make a warm sweet potato pie with whipped meringue on top, or a creamy sweet potato soup.
Zucchini: Fried zucchini, grilled zucchini, however you make it, this vegetable is great in the spring. Try serving honey glazed chicken with a side of roasted zucchini, onion, and yellow bell peppers, seasoned with olive oil and peppers.
Lettuce: Lettuce is ripe and ready in the spring time so use this veggie for your lunch salads during the springtime months. Arugula, baby spinach, chives, herbs, sliced almonds, and goat cheese could be combined make a mouthwatering side dish.
Corn: Corn is a classic summer dish. Try making summer corn chowder with bacon, or simply serve your corn on the cob with garlic butter for a great side at an outdoor BBQ.
Watermelon: Cool down in the summer months with watermelon sorbet that’s the perfect, healthy dessert for warm summer nights. You can also make a watermelon, pecan, and gorgonzola salad that works great on a bed of fresh lettuce.
Cranberries: Cranberry sauce goes great with turkey on Thanksgiving, but it can also be made into an autumn strudel with squash and cranberries, or a cranberry beef stew. The cranberry stew can be made with an economical chuck roast, beef broth, pearl onions, mushrooms, egg noodles, and, of course, cranberry sauce.
Pumpkin: Around Halloween and Thanksgiving, everyone has a hankering for pumpkin pie. Bursting with flavor, this veggie can be introduced to practically any dish, sweet and savory alike. Pumpkin soup, pumpkin oatmeal muffins, and best of all, pumpkin pie all taste great when the leaves are falling from the trees.
Having a seasonal healthy meal planner and shopping seasonally can help you cut down your grocery store bill while getting fresher and riper food straight to your table. Don’t hesitate to make traditions around your house based on these seasonal treats.
Studies show that traditions are critical to family happiness and bonding. In fact, family traditions encourage children’s social development and provide schedule and structure to everyone’s life. According to The Pfaltzgraff Co.’s national survey, comprised of over 1,000 married men and women, the daily ritual of eating together at the dinner table is the most important way to strengthen family ties. That’s why allotting one day a week to a fun dinner with a family meal plan, is a great way to bring the whole family together. Here are some games and family meals to go along with them:
Play the Critic: Make your kids your food critics when you’re trying out new recipes. Give a “review card” to your kids to get their opinion on new meal plans or create a thumbs up or thumbs down system. This works great with exotic dishes that you’ve never tried before.
Murder Mystery: Create a story of murder and assign everyone as the suspects. You can often find murder mystery plots and clues online to help you create your own murder mystery. This game is great for bigger families with older children.
Cooking Games: Cook fun family meals, like Smiley Face Soup (with ritz crackers as the eyes and cheese as the mouth), heart-shaped pizza, or dino-shaped grilled cheese sandwiches. All you have to do is cut out the dinosaur shape with an appropriate cookie cutter and make them green with pesto or mix butter with food coloring and put the dino to the grill. Whichever way you choose, you’ll have a green dino-sandwich ready to be attacked by hungry family members.
Guess Those Ingredients: Try to make your kids and husband guess the ingredients you put in a casserole, sauce, or sides. Tally up the points and give the winner a special price!
Dress Up to Dinner: Throw a theme night and have everyone dress up in costumes to dinner. Add some meal theme ideas. Everyone will have so much fun pretending it’s Halloween every Saturday night. Try matching your outfits to your meal plans. For example, if you’re having a Scooby Doo themed night, prepare Scooby snacks (cookies in the shape of bones) for dessert with a bit of ice cream and chocolate fudge.
Board Games for Dessert: If you’re not really the “play with your food type,” skip dessert and play trivia or board games after you’re done with your meal. Even a simple board game will promote family unity and make the whole family feel closer.
With theme nights, dress up, and cooking games your kids will be able to express their creativity, even at meal time. More importantly, after just a couple of fun game nights, you’ll feel closer with your family than ever before.