I’m reading the book The Family Dinner by Laurie David. My cousin gave me the book for my birthday, and thus far I’ve liked it. Most of all, it is serving as a good reinforcement for how important dining together as a family really is. Below are a few facts that she quotes from researchers on page 12:
- Compared with teens who rarely have family dinners, those who have them five or more times a week are 42 percent less likely to drink alcohol, 59 percent less likely to smoke cigarettes, and 66 percent less likely to try marijuana.
- Compared with teens who rarely have family dinners, those who frequently have them are three and a a half times less likely to have abused prescription drugs or an illegal drug other than marijuana.
- Compared with teens who rarely have family dinners, adolescent girls who frequently eat meals with their families appear less likely to use diet pills, laxatives, or other extreme measures to control their weight, even five years later.
- One in three American children are overweight or obese. Regular family dinner can reduce the incidence of childhood obesity.
- Compared with teens who rarely have family dinners, teens who have frequent family meals are 40 percent more likely to get A’s and B’s. Children ages seven to eleven who did well on school achievement tests were the ones who ate meals and snacks with their families more frequently.
- Family dinners are a key ingredient in helping children develop language skills, expand vocabulary, learn how to tell stories, and articulate feelings and thoughts.
- Teens who have regular family dinners are more likely to be well adjusted. They’re less likely to be depressed, are more motivated at school, and have better peer relationships.
Make note that the author does not specifically site each study, and as a social worker, I’m curious if the researchers factored in socio-economic class or any other possible indicators into the equation. Either way having regular family meals does clearly make a difference.
This meal plan is for a family of 3. We often have at least one friend or family member over to share a meal with us during the week. Since I factor the cost of the meal when I first prepare it, leftovers will be marked as $0. When we dine out, it comes from a different part of the family budget and those expenses will also show $0.
Kid Konnection Meal
One night a week, we help with the children’s program at church.
Apple Juice and milk
Approximate cost—$0, from church budget
Ways I saved on this meal—I picked up the lunchmeat as part of a Carolina Pride sale at Kroger and had coupons. The bread will be from Aldi, as will the fruit. The Apple Juice was some of the Motts for Tots that was a part of a Kroger Mega Sale a few weeks back, and I had the Vocalpoint mailer coupons. The chips are some that were leftover from a church get together and need using before they go to waste. The milk was leftover from the men’s breakfast and also needs using before it wastes. I’ll pick up sliced cheese to go with the sandwiches when I go to the market.
Dressed salad greens
Leftover breakfast casserole
Leftover roasted sweet potatoes
Green Beans and tomatoes from the garden
Ways I saved on this meal—The sweet potatoes and breakfast casserole are leftovers. Cook once, eat twice! I bought the salad greens with a coupon at Three Rivers Market, and I’ll make some homemade vinaigrette for them. The green beans and tomatoes came from the garden, and I think I’ll cook them together Italian style. It is kind of a hodgepodge meal, but all of the major food groups are represented! We’ll even drink milk to bump up the calcium intake!
Salad Nicoise minus the potatoes
Toast points or crackers
Ways I saved on this meal—I found a new source for locally grown eggs, and I’ve been pleased with the quality thus far. They are just a little more than grocery store eggs, and I know that they are raised better and probably have a higher nutritional count. The tuna was some that I bought on sale, as were the olives. The onions are from the garden. The salad greens were some I bought at Three Rivers with a coupon, mentioned above. The tomatoes, onions, and green beans are from the garden. The bread for the toast was some I bought with a coupon and BOGO sale at Kroger (only 85 cts for a loaf of good quality whole wheat bread!). The crackers were some whole wheat ones I bought on sale a while back. The apples are some I bought at Three Rivers and were a little pricey because they are organic. They taste delicious, though!
Ladies Night Out food
I’m making Mock Champagne Punch with ice ring
Herbed Cream Cheese Spread
and I’ll probably also bring fruit
Approximate cost—donation to the church
Ways I saved on this meal—I’ll shop for fruit at Aldi, where I found some good prices on it last week. The herbs from the spread will be from our garden. The punch is probably the priciest item on the menu that I’m bringing only because juice is so high. I’ll buy the Kroger brand to save a little money.
Approximate cost--$6-$10, depending on the cost of the beets and cabbage (This will make a large stock pot full with lots of leftovers to freeze)
Ways I saved on this meal— The stew meat was from the steer that we bought with friends earlier in the year. The beet greens, garlic, and onions will be from the garden. The carrots are some organic ones I bought at Three Rivers on sale. The cabbage and beets I’ll pick up at the farmers market if there are any available. If not, I’ll buy them at the store. I’ll dress it with some sour cream that I bought with a coupon and sale at Kroger and some dried dill from our garden.
Daddy Makes Pancakes
Ways I saved on this meal—Hubby is the pancake maker in the family. He loves to experiment with different types of flours since we can mill them at home with our grain mill. I never know if it will be buckwheat pancakes or quinoa or traditional wheat. Our daughter loves to be his helper in the kitchen, and I know she’ll be thrilled with this meal choice. I’ll serve any leftover fruit from the Ladies Night Out buffet.
One night this week we’ll either have leftovers or I’ll roast a chicken.
Roasted butternut squash
Sliced tomatoes from the garden
Green beans from the garden
Approximate cost--$0-$6, depending on if it is leftovers or not
Ways I saved on this meal—I scored a FANTASTIC deal on organic chicken at Kroger last week. I bought an entire chicken for only $2.73 after the markdown and my $1.50 coupon! If I roast the chicken, we’ll most likely eat the chicken for at least 3 meals. The first meal is usually chicken pieces that I cut up and roast. While the chicken is roasting, I’ll use the backbone and any other bones to make a stock or broth (depending on how much time I have) or make neckbone and rice. To make it you cook the neckbone in water until the meat is released. Remove any bits of meat you can and add them into the broth, removing all bones. Use the broth to cook rice and add any herbs, celery and onion you want. For another meal, I usually make chicken salad or some other casserole from the leftover chicken.
The butternut squash is from the garden. I’ll roast it in the oven with a bit of olive oil. Then I’ll mash it with butter and cream and sweeten it with a bit of maple syrup or molasses.