Weekly Meal Plan: Monday September 12th

by Maryann Tomovich Jacobsen, MS, RD on September 12, 2011

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Happy Monday! I hope you all are well.

This week I’m trying a quiche for the first time. I’ve been wanting to make more egg dishes – even though Big A is still on an egg hiatus. I’ve also been trying some time savers in the kitchen like making roasted veggies earlier in the day so that all I have to do is heat them up before dinnertime.

I haven’t made chicken enchiladas in a while so the next night, Tuesday, we’re having one of my kids’ favorite meals — spaghetti with meatballs. This is the easiest meal on earth especially when I cook the pasta ahead of time. I hate when I’m in a hurry and the water just won’t boil.

For more meal planning inspiration see Org Junkie.  And don’t miss the last giveaway in our Take Back Dinnertime Challenge at the end of this post.

What’s Cooking This Week

Monday: Chicken enchiladas with black beans and guacamole

Tuesday: Spaghetti and meatballs with salad, Parmesan green beans, bread and fruit

Wednesday: Kids’ choice

Thursday: Make Your Own Quiche with fruit salad

Friday: Sweet orange salmon, baked fries and roasted veggies (made ahead of time) and fruit

Weekend: Mexican pizza

Salad of the week: Apple walnut salad

The forgotten reason for family dinners — Connection
A new study presented at the Developmental Psychology Section Annual Conference showed that family dinners are associated with kids who are less picky about food. According to the article in Science Daily:
The results showed that friendly interaction between mother and child instead of coercive strategies, like pressure and physical prompting, may encourage young children to try different foods.

The results of this study mirror other research that shows that an authoritative feeding style is linked to better eating habits in children.

What is an authoritative feeding style?

According to a 2005 study in Appetite an authoritative feeding represents a balance between authoritarian (controlling) and permissive (let kids make all the choices) such that the child is encouraged to eat healthy foods, but is also given some choices about eating options. For example, with authoritative feeding, adults may determine which foods are offered, and children may determine which foods are eaten.

But I think the benefits of a positive feeding style go beyond eating habits.

The key reason a lot of us parents go to the trouble of family dinners is to connect with our kids. We want to have a time where we all gather and catch up on what’s going on. For those of us with younger kids, we are building the ritual — as kids don’t always do well at dinner until they are a bit older.

But if the family table is a negative place — full of pressure and hostile negotiations over food — we are missing the chance to really connect. And it just makes sense to me that kids that feel supported and free from pressure will eventually do better with eating.

I say eventually because a pleasant family table doesn’t mean a picky-eating kid will automatically start eating every food under the sun (it is a stage of development after all). I know this from experience. I think of it more like an investment — taking the time and effort until one day you can actually see the pay off.

Take Back Dinnertime Challenge Week 4
This fits right in with the last week of the Take Back Dinnertime Challenge. Don’t miss this week’s video with ideas on engaging your kids at the table. There are also some great tips on getting kids involved in the kitchen.

And to end the challenge, Real Simple is offering a copy of Laurie David’s The Family Dinner: Great Ways to Connect with Your Kids One Meal at a Time for one lucky winner. To enter leave a comment about how you try to connect with your family at dinner.

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This is the last giveaway for a while — I promise!  I hope this challenge has given you some ideas and inspiration for making it dinner the best part of your day.

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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Amy September 12, 2011 at 12:00 pm

Growing up, we always had family dinners, and they definitely added to my feelings of connection and security. So I hope to do the same for my daughter, now 3 1/2. We don’t have any real strategies, but try to converse nicely, asking about each other’s days. (Maybe someday we’ll do the sharing of best and worst moments, when she gets a bit older.) What let me know it was really working was when she started asking regularly, “What did you do today, Daddy?” so politely at the dinner table. Warms my heart every time! Thanks for the giveaway!

Beth Reinke September 12, 2011 at 12:36 pm

I don’t have any specific strategy, just try to get the kids talking – tough with teenagers! Thanks for doing this giveaway. :o )

If any of your readers are interested, here’s a link to a terrific book by Mary DeMuth on 150 ways to get kids talking at the dinner table: http://harvesthousepublishers.com/book/150-quick-questions-to-get-your-kids-talking-2011/

Julie September 12, 2011 at 12:45 pm

We hold hands while we say grace (so little hands don’t start eating), we ask each of us for a “high” & “low” of their day – their fav thing they did, the worst thing that happened. We prompt our 3 yr old – “did you like grocery store samples, doing chalk on the driveway or bath crayons?” – but kids catch on fast. Keeps us connected & ensures we all have a chance to talk. Special thanks for the giveaway & keep on giving us wonderful ideas – bless you & thank you!

Jenifer September 12, 2011 at 12:54 pm

I always believed in family dinners but my husband (and stepson, 17) preferred to eat in front of the TV. (YUCK!) So everyone one now has a role in getting dinner on the table (which really helps me, too!) We take turns preparing dinner, setting the table, cleaning up….etc. My daughter is too young to really help much (she is 2) but she carries the napkins and things like that. Sometimes we’ll spread a blanket on the floor and have a picnic in the family room and there is still the occasional meal in front of the TV. Wherever we eat, I try to keep the conversation going so we can reconnect with each other. I have learned SO MUCH from them over dinner…Family Dinners and the time we spend on them are a priority to me and I am no longer the only one who wants them. :)

Sally Kuzemchak September 12, 2011 at 1:17 pm

Maryann, how does your “Kids’ Choice” night work? Do you allow them to choose based on what ingredients you have–or do you give them 2-3 meal possibilities to choose from? Just wondering! :)

Maryann Tomovich Jacobsen, MS, RD September 12, 2011 at 1:42 pm

I give them (mostly my 4 year old who is pickier) a choice between two items. It has to be something easy as my husband works late that night. It usually is black been and cheese quesidillas, french toast or some kind of sandwich….usually grilled.

Estela @ Weekly Bite September 12, 2011 at 2:27 pm

Thanks for linking to my quiche recipe! I hope you like it. It’s a regular in our house :)

Allison September 12, 2011 at 2:29 pm

At dinner we go around the table and tell about the “rose” of our day and the “thorn” of our day. This generally will get the kids talking about their day with more description that “it was fine”.

Miranda September 12, 2011 at 2:49 pm

We like to take turns answering a favorites question. For example, what is your favorite memory about the vacation we just took?

Somer September 12, 2011 at 3:44 pm

My husband is a police officer so his work hours are always changing. We have a 3 and 1 year old and I have a set time for each meal. When my husband is home he joins us for the meal. There are several times a week that the children and I eat dinner without him but we will have breakfast with him. I believe it’s important to have one meal together as a family regardless of which meal it is. The 3 year likes to help me cook.

Sara September 12, 2011 at 3:47 pm

We don’t have any specific thing we do at dinnertime. However we are unplugged and together and we talk about our days. Even though my little guy is only 2 we make sure to include him in the conversation. As he gets older we will probably start asking about the best and worst part of his day to stimulate conversation.

Amy J September 12, 2011 at 4:10 pm

We go around the table and pray together telling God something we are grateful for!

Whitney September 12, 2011 at 4:47 pm

Our kids are still young, but this one works like a charm. At the dinner table, we use a talking stick–a decorated pencil–that we take very seriously. It gets the boys talking, sharing and trying to ever-so-patiently wait their turn!

Susan Ruffalo September 12, 2011 at 6:43 pm

To make dinnertime special we go through our “good, bad and ugly” list for each of us… Just sitting down together and talking about our day is a nice break from the day!!

BreAna September 13, 2011 at 2:14 pm

I just found your blog today and I’m excited to read more of your tips. Growing up we always had family dinner together, I loved it. My kids are young (1 and almost 3) and I don’t feel like we do anything too special to connect at mealtime. However, I do try to make sure we all stay at the table while they are eating and engage them as much as possible in our conversations.

Dawn September 15, 2011 at 7:57 am

Just in the past few months have I started having family dinners. Wow, what a difference it makes. My kids truly love it, even though they are still very picky eaters! We do best part/worst part of the day for everyone. The funniest responses are definitely from my 2 year old!

Niki September 18, 2011 at 5:43 am

sometimes we decorate the table with candles or flowers – a big hit with two little girls – and we always go around the table and tell of our favourite thing that day and our least favourite thing

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