14 Easy Steps to an Awesome Family Meal

Cooking is fun!

Cooking dinner is fun! And family meals are important – everyone says so. You want Junior to get into Harvard don’t you? And unless you want little Doodle Bug to get knocked up by the time she’s 14, you better start cooking meals and eating them together. And c’mon, it’s not that hard. Just follow these  14 easy steps for an ideal dining experience with your family.


  1. Make sure kids eat a lot of junk food throughout the school day – preferably there has been a holiday party at school offering unlimited access to cookies, candy and cupcakes. This will ensure they’re bouncing off the walls while you are cooking…and that they have absolutely zero interest in whatever you serve.
  1. Let the toddler skip the nap. This will ensure he screams whenever not in your arms. When you can’t take the screaming anymore, pop him up on the counter so he feels included. Leave the knife block within easy reach – this will give him something to play with instead of reaching for the raw chicken breasts as you slice them.
  1. Recruit the children for simple tasks like making the salads and setting the table. This ensures everything takes three times longer, everyone will eat with serving spoons, and the salads consist primarily of ranch dressing and cheese.
  1. Definitely try a new recipe. Make sure it is healthy and smells “funny.” Bonus points for ingredients like quinoa and kale.
  1. Make sure to use every pan, cutting board, and measuring cup you own so that your husband has plenty to do afterwards to make himself feel useful.
  1. Burn something. Set off the smoke alarm. Be forced to open all the doors to get air circulating again – and make sure it is below freezing outside.
  1. Ask the children if they want water or milk with dinner multiple times, but be too busy doing other things to actually hear the answer and pour the preferred drink. This is okay, because it wouldn’t feel right if you didn’t have to get up from the table at least 6 times during the meal.
  1. Arrange for your husband to breeze in at the exact moment you have persuaded the children to sit down at the table, only to have them leap up in delight as though they did not see the man 12 hours ago. (Okay this part is kind of adorable, but still…)
  1. Stand firm on the rule that everyone eats the same meal even when the toddler protests by screaming for the entire meal.
  1. Shove a bite in his mouth since it happens to be open, you know, for all the screaming. This is sure to make him realize that he actually loves your new quinoa and kale recipe.
  1. Break the rule that you should never bribe children into eating a meal and barter bite for bite with both 5 year olds. Sure, you’ve promised them ice cream every day for a week, but damned if they didn’t eat 6 bites each of your awesome new quinoa and kale recipe.
  1. Be out of ketchup. Or Ranch. Or – gasp – both.
  1. Decide that this is the evening you will teach your five year olds to cut their own meat.
  1. And last but still critical, let the dogs hang out under the table while you eat, drooling on your lap and snatching food directly from the toddler’s hand.
 14 steps for awesome family meals
See how easy that was? Wait – it wasn’t? Okay, maybe it wasn’t easy, but at least your family sees how hard you worked and was incredibly appreciative of your efforts. They probably made you sit down and put your feet up afterwards, right?
 That’s totally what happens in my house.
Want to commiserate about family dinner and discuss ideas to make it better? Provide your email address below.


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