These days it seems like we’ve lost the joy of gathering family and friends for a meal around the table. It’s likely that you either dine out or grab take out for the majority of your meals. A family supper is a hallmark of family life. It’s still a good thing for people to gather and get back to the very important time spent breaking bread together. Don’t downplay the importance of this tradition. There are many benefits of preparing meals at home.

This doesn’t mean you have to break the bank or spend hours in the kitchen to make this happen. Here are some helpful tips for planning a family meal.

Assorted pasta meal on plates

Use meals as a time of celebration

A holiday is not the only time to  mark with a celebration. Use family meals as a time to celebrate victories for the week. Recognizing your child’s accomplishing an A on a difficult test or scoring points in a game can be reasons to celebrate. Actually talking about the things you’re thankful for is always a good thing. Using a family meal for a time of sharing brings everyone closer.

Set the dining table

Adding extra touches to your dining space will make the meal even more special. Pull out the table cloth and fine china. Yes; fine china for hot dogs. If you’re like me, that china never sees the light of day. Why do you have it if not to use? You family will really understand how special your family meal really is if you do the unexpected. Do this every single time. It’s not just about making the space more beautiful and comfortable; it just will convey your love for your family.

Be sure you make the dining space a “no electronics zone.” That means no cell phones or handheld gaming devices. This is about talking face to face; sharing your stories and lives.

Try cooking something a little different

Your family meal menu can vary. Teenage or adult children may want a more sophisticated meal. This could be a good time to show off your cooking skillsIt’s also a great time for your kids to try new foods. Maybe they’ll discover a love of crepes or paella. If you decide that each child gets to pick the meal you can still make it special. It is a good idea to try out some new recipes once in a while. This Punjabi-style bhindi masala, for example, is simple to make but so very tasty and makes a normal dinner a special occasion. 

Make memories

It does take extra planning and time to create weekly family meals. The rewards far outweigh the work. You’re not just eating meals; you are making memories your family will always remember. Specific meals you prepare may not be remembered, but the experience of the tradition will last a lifetime. Creating family meals are simply an “I love you and you matter” to the people most important to you.

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