Dishes to Make Family Dinners Special Again

by Alli

Today’s post, Dishes to Make Family Dinners Special Again, is written by lifestyle blogger, Kacey Mya. 

Rubbed out by wolfed-down sandwiches on the way to practice and microwaved leftovers after a long day at the office, family dinners threaten to become nothing more than nostalgic memories.

More than reminiscent, however, family dinner time offers well-documented advantages within a broad spectrum of developmental and emotional domains. Parents describe family meals as coveted time during which members can catch up and mindfully talk to one another. While nearly half report enjoying fewer family meals than when they were young, 82% identify their favorite benefit as reconnecting meaningful bonds.

Looking for ways to make family dinners special again? Check out these tips and recipes!

For young children, eating dinner together models an important sense of belonging and security. As they grow, children who sit down regularly with their family have a greater chance than their counterparts of earning high grades in school.

Family Dinners

When it comes to an emphasis on well-being and the establishment of making healthy food choices, family dinners simply can’t be beat. Children love to emulate their parents. Eating well in tandem with your kids helps keep you healthy even as it enforces lifelong nutrition value.

How can you resurrect family dinner time and make it special again? Through food of course! Check out the 5 dishes below. Each varies in the manner of involvement, but all have the same delicious goal — family togetherness.

  1. Classic Child-Friendly Comfort. Who can deny the draw of a crisp grilled cheese sandwich with hot tomato soup? If you’re a foodie — perhaps hoping to raise little foodies — consider this Three-Cheese Grilled Cheese recipe.

Use of sourdough bread ups the all-important crisp factor, and the interplay of three very different tasting kinds of cheese is like a mini palate-forming exercise for your child. In less than half an hour this meal is ready for the table. It’s a safe bet that one of the topics of conversation will center around your junior Chef’s involvement in the preparation.

Grilled Cheese Sandwich - Family Dinners

  1. Winner Winner Chicken Dinner. There is no better role model for maintaining the ritual of a mindful family gathering than the Amish. Committed to a life of simplicity with an emphasis on community, traditional Amish dishes are a great source for family dinner inspiration.

The Amish Chicken Casserole utilizes a minimal number of basic ingredients. Prep time is mostly hands-off, this dish bakes itself for 30 minutes in the oven.

Feel free to switch-out the type of chicken meat used according to your family’s preference. Slice mushrooms in large chunks so they can slip easily from reluctant diner’s plates. Children may help grate cheese, stir the sauce to thicken and add ingredients. This recipe can be doubled — or tripled — for big extended family meals!

  1. Build Your Own Pizza. Homemade pizza is a healthy and cost-effective alternative to well-used delivery options. Working with dough can be rewardingly tactile and often comically messy! Consider setting up individual pizza stations, and use your imagination when it comes to toppings. Novel topping choices encourage kids to try new foods.

Pizza-making is a multi-step process, which is perfect for the development of your child’s order and sequencing skills. Rewarding in and of itself is the promised end result. Who wouldn’t eagerly anticipate the prospect of Build-Your-Own Homemade Pizza night?

Family Dinners

  1. Color Code a Theme. Up for a creative challenge? Choose a holiday, and plan dinner with your family based on the corresponding color scheme. For instance, on Veteran’s Day see if you can build a menu around food items that are either red, white or blue. This idea is so off the beaten track you’re likely wondering how it could ever truly work — and if it does — how could it possibly be palatable.

Consider toasted English Muffins with fresh sliced tomato and melted Bleu cheese. Pasta smothered in thick Bolognese sauce. Puff pastry blueberry tarts, and vine-ripened strawberries with cream.

Innovative and cooperative meal planning such as this lend family dinners an added level of playful intrigue. Imagine how many novel vegetables you might be able to incorporate into a St. Patrick’s meal!

  1. Throw a Fiesta. You don’t have to wait for a holiday or special family event to throw an impromptu party. You don’t even have to purchase specific food and decorations. Consider simple one-dish recipes that use basic ingredients, then give them a fancy name!

Fiesta Biscuit Casserole is a meal your children can help you prepare in 15 minutes. Arrange to play a party game together while the dish bakes. Sometimes even the slightest change in routine elicits great pleasure.

Plans to invite your family meaningfully back to the dinner table do not need to be intricate, time-consuming or expensive. They just require commitment. The commitment in itself makes family dinners special.

About Kacey

Family Dinners

Processed with VSCO with m5 preset

Kacey is a lifestyle blogger for The Drifter Collective, an eclectic lifestyle blog that expresses various forms of style through the influence of culture and the world around us. Kacey graduated with a degree in Communications while working for a lifestyle magazine. She has been able to fully embrace herself with the knowledge of nature, the power of exploring other locations and cultures, all while portraying her love for the world around her through her visually pleasing, culturally embracing and inspiring posts.

Follow Kacey on Twitter and subscribe to her blog to keep up with her travels and inspiring posts!



Anosa August 21, 2017 - 7:50 am

I do miss having family dinners when I was younger. We try to recreate them when we visit my parents and hopefully once I have kids we can do that too.
I like the idea of a themed dinner, that’s something my mother loved

robin rue August 21, 2017 - 7:59 am

We love having a big family dinner. I grew up in a big Italian family, so Sunday dinners were always held every week and we still carry that tradition on.

candy August 21, 2017 - 8:50 am

We were raised for everyone to enjoy a great family dinner. Some were fancy some weren’t. Always a great time to be together and talk and enjoy each other.

paula schuck August 21, 2017 - 9:03 am

I very much agree with this. When our children were small this was our big priority here. It still is but I have to be honest it gets so much harder with teens. Their schedules are busier after school often and they resist sitting down with you or attending mindfully to the task of eating together. That is my issue. I am emailing this to my teen to advise here that you can get higher grades if you eat dinner with us. LOL. That might motivate her.

Mimi Green August 21, 2017 - 9:56 am

I love sandwich night, I usually use Texas Toast. We need to do better at eating dinner together.

Christy Maurer August 21, 2017 - 11:15 am

These really are such fun ideas for family dinners. Our schedules are going to be so crazy now that school is starting again, so I’ll have to make at least one night special. I love Amish casseroles, so I’ll have to add that to my list.

Anita August 21, 2017 - 12:33 pm

Eating together as a family is one of my favorite memories. I think all families should do this. I remember when we would tell fun stories while we ate together as a family. I can’t wait to do this when I have my little family.

Jenn August 21, 2017 - 1:28 pm

I love this blog post. Our meals together are really important. It’s a great way to hear about our teenager’s day.

Sarah Bailey August 21, 2017 - 3:04 pm

What some delicious ideas and great twists on traditional dishes, I definitely need to give the Three-Cheese Grilled Cheese recipe that is right up my street.

Pam Wattenbarger August 21, 2017 - 5:28 pm

We used to do a themed dinner every week based on a different country. We would research the country and make different foods based on that country.

Lisa August 21, 2017 - 5:36 pm

Such great ideas. My kids are happy with grilled cheese sometimes, I need to try the three cheese grilled cheese. Sounds great!

Liz Mays August 21, 2017 - 8:15 pm

These are wonderful dinner ideas. The concept of building a meal around a few colors would be super fun!

Claudia Krusch August 21, 2017 - 9:15 pm

These are great kid friendly meal ideas. Grilled cheese is always a big hit with my family. I will have to pick up some sourdough bread for this weekend.

Karissa @WithOurBest (@withourbest) August 21, 2017 - 10:12 pm

We love to do build your own pizza nights. We do it with the neighbors fairly frequently.

Sandy N Vyjay August 22, 2017 - 1:02 am

Family dinners are many time akin to a ritualistic affair and there are many dishes which are mandatory. This is true especially during family get togethers or festivals. Sometimes it turns into a party with immediate neighbours joining in.

Jaime Nicole August 22, 2017 - 7:08 am

I just love having family dinners with my girls. It is so much fun to cook and eat together – and I can’t wait to try the Amish Chicken Casserole!

Chubskulit Rose August 22, 2017 - 8:46 am

Everything looks great especially the pizza. I can be challenging to make dinners exciting especially for the kids but if you find the right dishes, it’s possible.

Kita Bryant August 22, 2017 - 12:56 pm

Our family treats the weekends dinner with respect. This recipes are must haves in order to enjoy them with you family!

Catvills August 22, 2017 - 5:43 pm

I miss having the kind of dinners we had when I was a child. Every evening we’d sit around the table and enjoy good food and talk about school, or a tv show, our favorite sports team. It was nice. Now, with our crazy schedules, the only time we can sit down together as a family is on weekend dinners. Well, at least we still have dinners together!

Shirley Wood August 22, 2017 - 7:05 pm

We still have dinner together as a family at the table discussing the events of the day. My Mom instilled that in us all and it’s one of my favorite times of the day. I passed that aspect of family along to my children and enjoy instilling it in my grandchildren as well.
We actually had Bacon Grilled Cheese for dinner this evening, one of those busy day meals!


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