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.
Sure, burgers have received a pretty bad rap as of late, with rumors that claim red meat can be the cause of all sorts of ailments. Many nutritionists, however, contend that lean beef can be a great part of any diet. Registered dietician Nancy Anderson, for example, claims that though ground beef shouldn’t be eaten more than 2-3 times a week, it’s a great source of protein and iron. While the whole family enjoys a hearty, fatty burger, you may want to keep an eye on your family’s health by opting for the lean, healthy alternative or other healthy family recipes. However, many people have no clue how to cook a lean burger to make it just as luscious and delicious as its fatty counterparts. Don’t worry — there are plenty of tips that can help you trick your family into thinking they are eating the real deal.
Choosing the meat
All lean burgers start at the meat. Turkey burgers taste great and carry the same consistency as beef burgers. You could also try bison burgers or even veggie burgers if you’re feeling a bit adventurous.
Turkey Burgers: Ground turkey, bread crumbs, onion, egg whites and garlic can be combined to make a mean turkey burger. Turkey burgers should reach an internal temperature of about 180F.
Bison Burgers: If you want to go the bison burger route, look for 80-90% lean meat. Less than 10% fat may result in a dry burger. Cook your burger until it’s at least 160F internally. A continuous heat of about 475-500F will result in a well done bison burger.
Veggie Burgers: Black beans, panko breadcrumbs, eggs, scallions, basil, garlic and various spices make a delicious black bean burger and red beets, black beans, and brown rice can be combined to make a burger with a strikingly beef-like consistency.
Cooking Tips for Lean Burgers
You could go with turkey, veggie, or bison burgers, but lean beef reigns supreme when it comes to the “healthy” burger. Lean meat is defined by the USDA as meat that has less than 10 grams of total fat, 4.5 grams or less of saturated fat, and less than 95 milligrams of cholesterol per 100-gram. All these factors combined and you have yourself a healthy burger. Keep these tips in mind if you want to cook up a lean burger tonight:
Outdoor grilling is ideal for your meat to give it massive amounts of flavor and a juicy interior.
Try to handle and shape your burgers as little as possible when making them into patties and never press down on your lean burgers as they cook. This will keep them nice and juicy.
Leaner burgers require a lower cooking temperature and could be easier to cook with added ingredients, which help increase moisture. Ingredients that give you a bit of moisture include sauces, toppings, or add-ins. Use veggies like onions, tomatoes, mushrooms, and pickles, to give your burger some moisture.
It doesn’t stop at the burger. If you pair your lean burger with French fries and a soda pop, you may be defeating the whole purpose of the meal. Instead, bake sweet potato fries and serve your dish with iced tea.
Next time you’re at the grill, try to prepare some family real recipes that aren’t saturated in fats. Make sure your family is taking in great, healthy meals for a healthy and happier lifestyle.
Choosy eating is something that many people go through at one point or another. In fact, picky eating, or “food neophobia,” is a completely healthy reaction to food for a child in their critical developmental stages. However, household picky eaters may not be making it easy on parents to prepare dinner every night. And, unfortunately, there’s no age limit to picky eating, so mom or dad may be the culprits of finicky eating, too. Luckily, a family meal plan, often aided by an online healthy meal planning service, can help provide a healthy, balanced diet to even the pickiest eaters in your household.
What is a “family meal plan?”
A family meal plan is a service, online application, or website, that helps you plan out your food for a week (or even a month). These services, like Food on the Table, allow you to select your recipes, choose the ingredients you want to work with, compare store sales, then organize and print your grocery lists.
How can a meal plan help my family?
If you sign up on a website that provides you with weekly meal plans, you’ll be able to pick from a number of ingredients, which are then combined to make recipe suggestions. Thus, you and your family can get together and decide what foods you want included in your meals and what foods you don’t. This will ensure that picky eaters find foods they like on their dinner plates. No more wasted meals!
A weekly meal plan helps you vary your meals, that way no one gets bored at dinner time with the same ol’ casserole night after night. While dining with picky eaters can sometimes get a bit dull, meal plans will give you suggestions for new recipes, that way the family cook can experiment. You can even play a little game by having picky eaters “review” new dishes, like hosts on a Food TV program. Your family will have a blast taste-testing at the table.
Healthy meal planning, when done collaboratively as a family, can encourage picky eaters to try new things. Ask picky eaters to sit down with you, look at recipes, and find what piques their interest. You may be surprised at their selections.
Using a family meal plan every week will help you please the picky eaters in your home. You never know: the fun of planning meals together might just encourage everyone in your family to venture out of their food comfort zones and go from picky eater to foodie.