Family Dinners

By: Amy Forstadt

Once upon a time, a long time ago, my kid went to bed promptly at 7:30. I would then whip up something delicious (yet easy!) and John and I would have a quiet dinner together, usually by 8, often in front of the TV (shut up). In this magical time, my child was just an itty bitty baby and/or beginning toddler, and had no concept of us all eating together. Or fighting bedtime, for that matter.

But now, a few measly years later, bedtime has slipped to 8, 8:15, sometimes even 8:30. Blame it on my kid’s advanced age (three), daylight savings time, mom’s laziness urge to spend more time with him, what have you, but the quiet, adult dinners in front of the tube are coming to an end. No way am I eating dinner at nine at night. What are we, French? Also, I’ve started to wonder if maybe we should begin those do-it-or-your-kid-will-end-up-in-juvie family dinners that society is always pressuring me about. It sounds like a great idea, in theory, but thinking about the mechanics of it is actually a little mind-boggling. I’ve got lots of issues and questions, so I’m depending on you, my loyal readers (hi mom) to help me solve them. If you’ve got any suggestions for any of my issues, or anything I haven’t brought up yet, please don’t hesitate. Be bossy. Tell me what to do. I like it that way!

1. Timing.8:30 just feels too late for Benjie to go to bed. I’d like it to be closer to eight. But I don’t get home from work with him until about 6:30. So that means I’d have to get dinner on the table at seven, so whatever I make would have to only take half an hour. And it leaves me no time to change clothes, check e-mail, or even sit down for a second.

2. Food. Maybe Benjie can live on a diet of fish sticks/hot dogs/pita bread pizzas, but John and I can’t. Okay, John could, but I can’t. And I’m not sure how I’m going to make one healthy, delicious family dinner in 30 minutes, much less two. But that means I’m going to need a whole stable full of new recipes, ones both kids and adults can enjoy. A whole stable full!

3. Pissiness. Is coming home from work and rushing around to make dinner with no time to decompress going to turn me into a cranky beotch? This is a definite possibility. Family dinners don’t seem so worth it if your mom is tearing her hair out.

How do people do it? Get a healthy and nutritious dinner on the table that’s good for the whole family without wielding a carving knife (or garlic press for gentler souls) at anyone who gets in their way? If any of you out there are doing it, even sometimes, please share your wisdom with me. Dinner is only a few hours away.


  1. Madge says

    Thank goodness I am away from this stage in my life. It was always a problem for me as I didn’t like to cook. I know a lot of young families today use crock pots and go to places like Trader Joe’s and buy things like Chicken Panko which is already cooked and ready to serve or meals that just need heating up. My daughter-in-law meal plans and my son gets home early enough for everyone to eat together. Their kids, twins age 5 1/2 and daughter 3 go to bed by 7:30-8:00pm and then they do all their together stuff by themselves. Also, she makes meals in advance and freezes stuff to take out in the morning before work so it is only heated when everyone gets home. Hope this helps.

  2. says

    We have embraced the crock pot and it really is helpful and surprisingly good. We’re still at that 7:00/7:30 bedtime so dinner is early. I love the idea of having dinner together, it’s important to me to maintain that tradition at least a few nights a week so my thought is maybe strike a balance and do it a few nights a week and save a couple of the others for you and your husband. Those are my thoughts. I must admit I love take out too! I don’t think we can go one week without it.

  3. Amy F. says

    Thanks for the suggestions, and keep them coming! I’d love to have a good resource for crock pot recipes, if you know of any.

  4. Amy F. says

    Madge, I’ll definitely google, and I’d love some personal recommendations if anyone has got any that are particularly yummy.

    etc- I’ll try making something big on Sunday and see how that goes this week. Thanks for the tip!

  5. Madge says

    This was sent to me when I requested recipes. I will post on here as they come in. This woman is a fabulous cook so I would assume it is a good bet this is delicious-even if she says so herself.

    mushroom soup.. 1 cup
    mushrooms….dehydrated…….2 cups
    or fresh
    english cut roast

    place mushroom soup, water and mushrooms in slow cooker and stir till soup becomes liquid.
    add roast and seasonings and potatoes
    cook all day
    It can be used over pasta if you don’t want to add the potatoes. um um good.

  6. Madge says

    Another friend sent me this email.
    I use the Campbell’s Soup crockpot book and a wonderful new one called Make It Fast, Cook It Slow. Great recipes.

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