Amazing! Does your family have meals together 4-5 times a week?  If so, Focus on the Family reports that your children are 85% LESS likely to get into bad behaviors (including substance abuse).  If you just gather your family together for a meal 4-5 times a week, your kids will be 85% MORE likely to be good students, make good choices, and stay out of trouble!  Wow!

I say, “Let’s eat!”

Here’s an easy menu idea and two recipes to get you started:

MENU:

Seasoned Beef with Noodles

Mashed Potatoes  (we like Bob Evans, found in refrigerator section of grocery)

Peas – or – Broccoli  (we use frozen veggies)

Strawberries – or – Flavored Applesauce (recipe below)

SEASONED BEEF WITH NOODLES ( I make two batches of this now that my sons are older and eat more.)

1 to 1 1/2 lb stew beef

1 can Heinz beef gravy -or- 1 packet McCormick’s low-sodium brown gravy (prepared as directed)

1-2 cloves garlic (I use minced garlic from a jar found in produce section of grocery)

1/2 sweet or yellow onion, finely chopped -or- 2 Tbs dried chopped onion

1 tsp dried chopped basil

water as needed

1 package Wide or Extra Wide Noodles, cooked according to package directions

Cook stew beef in large skillet over med-high heat until evenly browned.  Reduce heat to low.  Stir in gravy and seasonings.  Cover and let simmer, stirring occasionally, for minimum of 30 minutes until beef is tender. Add water, 1/2 cup at a time, if needed to maintain the gravy. After meat is tender, you reduce heat to simmer and cook another 30 minutes or serve as is.  I like to let mine simmer a while.

FLAVORED APPLESAUCE

1 jar unsweetened/natural style applesauce

1 small pkg of gelatin mix, sugar-free or regular  (My boys prefer strawberry or cherry.  Peach, raspberry, and orange are also good.)

Pour applesauce into medium-size mixing bowl.  Add gelatin powder and stir until thoroughly mixed.  (Young children like making flavored applesauce.  It’s fun watching the applesauce change color.)

To serve:  Serve seasoned beef and gravy over noodles with mashed potatoes and green vegetables on the side.  Fruit can be served as a separate side.   This makes a colorful meal and smells so good while it’s cooking! It’s a great way to welcome family members home from their day with the aroma of the seasoned beef!   Enjoy!

Enhance your family meal times by doing what you can to make the time enjoyable.  Use this as a time for family members to catch up with each other, share about their day or what’s on their mind.  Try to engage each family member in conversation.  Tell about funny things that happened.  Ask questions.  Share something interesting that was learned that day.  If someone expresses a concern or problem, get feedback from family members.  For optimal family time, no technology/electronics at the table.

Involve family members in prep, set-up, and clean-up.  Let them help prepare food, pour drinks, set the table, clear the table, clean up the kitchen.  Did you know young children are more likely to try a new food if they helped make it? Even if all they do  is stir ingredients together, they’re getting involved with the process.   Helping with meals and clean-up promotes teamwork and teaches responsibility.

Pray as a family before the meal. For many families, this might be the only time that prayer is said together.  Our pastor said his family still says, “God is great and God is good…” even though his children are now young adults.  We’ve stayed with that dinnertime prayer, too.   (See below for words to this prayer.)

One more thing about family meals:  You don’t have to be ‘family’ to enjoy a meal together.  Encourage your children to bring their friends. Family mealtime is about fellowship.  Perhaps there’s a child or young person who could benefit from the love and hospitality of  your family.  If so, be sure to invite them to join you at your table!

Check back soon for a new page I’ll add to my blog called “Let’s Eat!”.   It will feature family-friendly recipes and meal ideas.

Dinnertime Prayer:

God is great and God is good; and we thank Him for this food. 

By His hands we all are fed.  Thank You for our daily bread.  Amen.   

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