I do not have dinner magic. I am trying to create it. Because for the past 20 months it has included a lot of shrill screaming and frustration. I am not going to say it has been scream free but I have found some things that have helped!
Special Touches: Why do flowers and cute plates help with the mood of dinner? I have no idea, but it does. I let the girls be in charge of decorating the table some nights. One night they will be fairies covering the table, the next night stuffed dogs. Also a fancy drink, but I don’t want to give them a sugar drink. So we have fun creating flavored waters.
See that pink ladle? That leads me to my next tip…
Games: Games that get people talking. So on days where I have no time or energy or creativity to do anything, I grab the ladle. I think of two questions and we pass it around the dinner table answering the questions. If you could be any animal for a day, what would it be? If you could be a character in any book, which one would you be? Another thing I do when I have no energy is my Would You Rather? App. Only mommy gets to read the app because there sometimes are grown up questions on there. Or weird political questions. But it gives a lot of fun ideas. Sometimes I will put a knock knock joke book in the middle of the table. But most of all when I can think ahead and be creative with the questions, it works the best. I try to think of questions that make the members of my family think about the other members of the family. Things like…I have noticed Abby has really been into _____lately. Three things that make me love Cameron are _____. Things like that are good for our family to talk about.
Cooking with the Kids: This doesn’t happen as much as I would like. My girls really like to cook. When I don’t have a 2 and 1 year old fighting for my attention, I really like to cook with them too. One day we will go back to cooking together more, I miss it.
You Chose Options: Lately I have been trying to have more “bar” type or “create your own” type meals. Most of the time they can’t cook with me. But they feel like they are cooking when they put together their own meal. I get more veggies in them when I do this. Let me show you some ideas and tell you the rules I have when doing these meals…
Peanut Noodles: Whole grain pasta or quinoa pasta tossed in a peanut sauce. Just google some recipes for the peanut sauce. I use sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, a bit of sugar, and peanut butter in mine. Topping ideas are carrots, red peppers, cilantro, edamame, peanuts, mushrooms, sprouts, and broccoli. Rule at my house when we eat this is, you have to try two new vegetables in your noodle bowl.
Pizzas: My favorite pizza dough recipe is here but this day I just bought a bag at the store. Get some extra veggies in the sauce by blending up some vegetables and adding them in there. The rule we have with pizza is you must have at least two veggies on your pizza. Topping ideas are meat, corn, spinach, peppers, tomato, broccoli, olives, tomato.
Sweet Potato or Yam Bar: Sweet potatoes are the go to dinner at my house when there is nothing to eat. I saute up some dark greens (usually I use collard greens) and those are a MUST to put on your potato, you have to eat those. Then you can pick whatever you want as the other toppings.
Panini Bar: Create your own sandwich that you then get to smush with a pan and grill like a Panini! Options could be sun dried tomatoes, olives, pesto, spinach, tomatoes, etc.
Let me know if you have any other ideas for create your own meals or bar type meals. Other than tacos, this is all I could think of!