Here are few memory-making ideas you can serve up along with your great dinners.
- Eat dinner together at the table as much as possible. Not only is it a good time for family bonding, but this conversational period actually promotes good digestion.
- Every other month, go formal. Break out the good china and glassware (don’t forget the candles!), and have one of the kids set a formal table. Besides being fun, it’s a good way to learn which side of the plate the fork goes on and what all those different glasses are for. This is also a perfect time to teach manners and etiquette. Don’t worry about making fancy, unfamiliar food for these affairs—the family favorites work just fine here.
- Rainy or snowy days are perfect times for an indoor picnic. Spread a blanket on the living room floor and, if you have a fireplace, build a fire for atmosphere. If you get stuck on menu ideas, winter barbecues are always different, fun and, of course, great tasting. How can you beat BBQ chicken and potato salad anytime of the year?
- Nothing boosts a child’s self esteem more than a sense of accomplishment and spending time with a grownup in the kitchen. Share the cooking with one of the kids.
- Four- to eight-year-olds can add premeasured ingredients to a bowl and stir them together (great for developing hand-eye coordination) or wash vegetables in the sink and place in a colander (encourages cleanliness). If you’re making meatloaf or meatballs, measure all the ingredients in a large resealable plastic bag, seal the bag closed, and have the kids “mold” and massage the mixture until incorporated.
- Older kids can help with rolling out dough (good for dexterity), measuring ingredients (extra math tutoring!), and planning menus. And if your teenager shows an interest in cooking, give them responsibility for a portion of the meal or even the entire dinner itself—casseroles are a perfect place to start. It’s a wonderful way for them to start developing kitchen skills that they’ll use for years to come.