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Thursdays Thought on Family Dinner: Name Your Nights

Dinner IdeasIn our book, The Family Dinner, we recommend naming your nights because it makes dinner more of an “event” to come to. Your kids will wake up excited for Taco Tuesday or Souper Sunday knowing what to expect when they come to the table.

We’ve decided that we’re going to listen to our own advice and take the same path regarding our Babble blog posts!  We don’t post as often as some other prolific bloggers on Family Kitchen (We don’t know how you all do it!!  Kudos to you!), but we’d like to make sure that you all do see our posts and share our ideas for family dinner.  So, here’s our plan.  Every Thursday, you can now look forward to Laurie & Kirstin’s “Thursday’s Thought on Family Dinner.”

We’ll give you a great idea — perhaps a quick recipe, a conversation starter, a time saving idea — that will help you make your own family dinner that much easier and that much more doable. We hope you’ll tune in every Thursday and share with us what works at your family dinner as well. Ultimately, we all have the same goal when it comes to family dinner — to eat good, healthy food and connect with our children. We all do dinner a little differently, and it helps to hear what works for others!

Appropriately enough, this week’s Thursday’s Thought is centered around naming your nights. Our colleague Jennifer, (a busy mother of three school-aged children — twin boys who are 9 and a 6-year-old daughter) has taken our advice to heart, and we love what she’s come up with in terms of naming her nights!  Here, she shares how it goes in her house:

Monday is, of course, Meatless Monday and it’s also Mmm, Mmm Monday. In addition to a meatless dinner — soup and a salad, a pasta dish, a veggie stir fry — Mondays are also treat night. This is the night that my kids know they’ll have a sugary treat for dessert.  Most nights it’s fruit for dessert, but the kids beat the Monday morning blues looking forward to the sweet treat they know they’ll have after dinner that night. A Meatless Monday favorite is speedy pasta in a pan, and they love Nanna’s Chocolate Chip cookies, too. (I now keep frozen cookie dough in the freezer so that homemade cookies are never more than 10 minutes away!)

Tuesday is always Taco Tuesday. It doesn’t get any more classic than that!

Wednesday is Wacky Wednesday. This is a fun one for the kids (and for us!) as everyone gets through “hump day” and moves that much closer to the weekend. At a Wacky Wednesday dinner, the kids never know what’s going to be just a little off-kilter at dinner that night. This not only makes dinner more fun, but it also often helps teach manners and etiquette in a “wacky” way. Some nights, I serve the kids breakfast for dinner. Or I set the table with different napkins and plates at every place setting. Or start with dessert and end with salad. Last Wednesday we had a picnic on the living room floor!

Thursday is Thankful Thursday. On Thursdays, everyone knows to come to the table ready to talk about what they’re particularly appreciative of that week. It’s kind of like having a little Thanksgiving chatter on a weekly basis. A regular dose of gratitude is good for everyone!

Friday is Fancy Friday. This is the night when we usually have a Shabbat dinner and often will share it with another family as well. The tablecloth comes out as do the candles, nicer plates and serving pieces. Dinner is served in the dining room rather than the kitchen. The kids always come to the dinner table a little more cleaned up, neater and more polite. (Funny how that happens!) Everyone discusses that week’s Huffington Post Family Dinner Download and even my little one contributes. We just tailor the conversation appropriately. It’s a good night to reflect on what’s happened in the world during the week and to discuss. After dinner, the name changes to Fun Friday or Family Friday because we have family game night or movie night, depending on what everyone’s in the mood for.

Saturday is Sometimes Saturday. That’s because my husband and I usually go out on Saturday nights and only “sometimes” is there a full family dinner!  Saturday is the night that the kids eat leftovers or make pasta or paninis.

Sunday is Super Helper Sunday. Sunday is the day that I take a little longer in the kitchen — putting together dinner for that night and often prepping for other meals during the week. My kids love helping in the kitchen and given that weekdays are often tricky because of their after school activities and homework and my desire to get dinner on the table as quickly as possible, Sunday has become the afternoon when the kids are my sous chefs. Everyone looks forward to Sunday afternoons in the kitchen!

Obviously, not every week is the same, but in general, this is what happens at our house. Dinner is something that we all look forward to, and friends often ask to come over for dinner, too!

Have you “named” any of your nights? How does it work in your home? One of our readers sent us a letter recently where she told us about all of her themed nights. We love it! You can read it here.

See you next Thursday. . . Laurie & Kirstin

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