Making Your Family Mealtimes CountMarch 12, 2014 by Annabel Karmel
It can be a real challenge to find the time to plan, prepare, and share family meals, especially as we are all so busy.
When my children were growing up, it was hard juggling work life with keeping a happy family, but I knew how important it was for us to enjoy quality home cooked foodÂ whilst sharing time together at the dinner table.
‘Making do’ and grabbing food on the go can all lead to unhealthy eating habits such as snacking, skipping meals, eating fast food, TV meals and fussy eating. Children also miss out on learning valuable social skills to give them the confidence to talk and to listen.
Cooking for everyone doesnâ€™t have to be difficult or expensive, thatâ€™s why Iâ€˜ve launched my brand new Family CookbookÂ (Ebury Press).Â Itâ€™s filled with deliciously quick dishes, some of my personal favourites that the whole family will love.
Over the last 20 years, Iâ€™ve learnt a lot about how to get the whole family engaged and socialising at the table.Â One particular favourite was to get my children cooking up a storm! Every Friday evening, my three children took over the kitchen. They would create a menu and perfect it over the course of a month. The first Friday would be chaotic, but by the end of the month they were like mini Cordon Bleu chefs!Â In fact, some of the recipes in my new Family Cookbook were born out of these Friday night meals â€“ Laraâ€™s Lasagne (with a secret ingredient of condensed tomato soup) is a particular favourite of ours.
Here are some more top tips for making family meals a reality and not a rarity.
Save the date
Whether itâ€™s a Monday dinnertime, Saturday breakfast or Sunday lunch, set aside particular days that suit everyone and stick to it.Â These might change each week, but aim for at least three meals together at the table.
Gadget Free Kitchen Table
The dining table was built for talking, so take advantage of this time together and go gadget-free (and that means mum and dad too!). Candy Crush on the iPad and work emails on the Blackberry can wait. Turn off the TV too and you might just find out something new.
Simple is the Key
Sitting down as a family doesnâ€™t mean you have to spend hours prepping a gourmet meal.Â It could be as simple as rustling up omelettes with their favourite fillings or cooking a quick and tasty stir-fry. Keep your kitchen cupboards and freezer stocked with a variety of canned, dried and frozen ingredients that you know your family will enjoy.
Baking in Bulk
When you have time, make more than you need for one mealtime, and freeze the extra portions for a day when you need to whip something up quickly. Iâ€™m a big fan of planning ahead, and my new Family Cookbook includes an entire chapter dedicated to delicious meals that can be planned in advance and frozen.
Annabelâ€™s Family Cookbook (Ebury Press) is filled with cooking inspiration for the whole family and available to buy now. EnterÂ our competition by Tuesday 8th April 2014 for your chance to win a copy.