While the rest of the world has to sit around and wait for January to start things anew, families are lucky. Back to School season is a time for all things new: new shoes, new locker combinations, new books, and New (School) Year’s resolutions. And I propose one resolution to start right away: cook dinner with your family one night a week. If families that eat dinner together raise smarter, safer, and more secure kids, we can only imagine what happens when families cook together. Regardless of your culinary prowess, or your tolerance for mess, this shouldn’t be as daunting as it sounds. Chances are your kids are already eager to unleash their inner-chef, and after a summer in front of the Food Network, they’ll jump at the thought of feeding their family.
The plan: commit to “Family Kitchen” one night each week when soccer practice and PTO meetings won’t have you eating in the car. Earlier in the week, decide on a menu theme (Greek? Comfort food? No silverware finger foods?) and plan and shop for a few recipes. On the night of, make sure each family member has a hand in all of the recipes. (Click here for some kid-friendly kitchen tasks.) Remember, this meal is much more about the process than the product. So take time, have fun, and enjoy your too-crowded kitchen.
What can you expect from this family adventure around the stove? Maybe something you can’t find at the table: An extra bite of middle school gossip? A surprised “mmm” from a 5-year old sneaking broccoli? A covert opportunity to test your 4th-grader’s division skills? The Family Kitchen is one New Year’s resolution you’ll be keeping well past February..err… October.