Get Motivated for More Family Dinners in the New Year

The following post is from Shaina of Food for My Family and Olmanson Photography:

Photo by Shaina Olmanson, Food for My Family

It’s no secret that I place a high degree of importance on family dinner time. It’s not just that it has long been touted as the cure all for getting your kids to be happy, achieve higher degrees of success in school, decrease the chance they turn to drugs or other high risk behaviors and become successful adults. All those things are well and good, and while they play a role in my attitude towards the dinner table, it’s more than that.

The act of eating together as a family is very much a part of what our family is at its core. It’s teaching my children what a healthy diet is. It helps us talk to each other as a family. It teaches my four children social skills and manners, and it helps prepare them for the next stages of life as they grow into teenagers and young adults and head out on their own.

If you struggle with family mealtime—which I am more than willing to admit I sometimes lack the desire to sit in the kitchen, make a mess with the kids, fill the dishwasher and sweep sticky rice pieces from the floor when we’re done-Here are a few resources that can help you get motivated to make 2012 the year of the family dinner:

**The Family Dinner Cookbook, by Laurie David and Kirstin Uhrenholdt

This cookbook gives ideas for getting your kids involved and interacting during dinner. There are recipes, activities, questions to get you talking and more. It’s a great resource for any family looking to sit down together more often.

Whether you’re introducing your children to new foods or just trying to keep them engaged during the mealtime, this book helps tackle the sticky situations of being a parent and feeding kids.

**The Six O’clock Scramble, by Aviva Goldfarb

This is a Kindle book designed to help you tackle busy mealtimes with menu plans, grocery lists and recipes. The Six O’clock Scramble takes the guesswork out of dinnertime, and lets you focus on just getting the job done.

Epicurious app for the iPhone/iPad and **Kindle/Android

Epicurious boasts a massive library of recipes from publications like Gourmet, Bon Appétit and more. It will quickly show you user ratings and reviews, and a shopping list tool is included to make meal planning a simple task with information available at your fingertips.

Jamie Oliver’s 20-Minute Meals app for iPhone/iPad and**Kindle/Android

For those on a time crunch, Oliver challenges you to make dinner in 20 minutes. With a shopping list tool, step-by-step photos and videos of Oliver giving tips and tricks for the 60 recipes, this is a free app you don’t want to pass up.

Big Oven app for iPhone/iPad and **Kindle/Android

Boasting more than 200,000 recipes makes this app stand out. A bit of something for everyone, you’ll be hard pressed to not find something your family would enjoy eating.

What do you find most challenging about family dinners? Is it the planning and preparation or perhaps just carving out the time in a busy day?

Shaina Olmanson is the freelance writer, photographer, and home cook behind Food for My Family. Cooking daily with and for her four kids and husband, Ole, drives her desire to inspire other families to do the same. Shaina is also the author of Desserts in Jars and contributes regularly to a variety of online sites and traditional print magazines.