Weeknight Dinner Rituals: How we do it and how it helps our family

This post is sponsored by Blue Apron.  I can’t wait to talk about something that is extremely important to me and my family—>  spending time together at the dinner table.

**The first 50 readers to sign up HERE will get $50 off their first two weeks of Blue Apron!**

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I have two amazing meals to share with you today from Blue Apron!  All of the farm-fresh ingredients were delivered right to our door in all of the right proportions so we didn’t have to go to the store with three littles!  Everything arrives in a refrigerated box.  Each time I open the box from Blue Apron everything is cold and fresh.

Each week Blue Apron has eight recipes for you to choose from and here is what we chose for two of our meals this last week:

Mexican-Spiced Beef & Rice Bowls w/Sautéed Zucchini & Tomatoes along with Creamy Risotto with Summer Vegetables & Pecorino Cheese.

Both were so good and full of bright colors!

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The more variety in colors that a meal contains the better in my opinion.

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Skye enjoys being involved in everything these days.

Marathon training makes me love food even more than I normally do and trying brand new recipes and ingredients just makes me really happy.  Each week Blue Apron adds new dishes to their menu and they offer a huge selection of recipes.

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The kid’s perfected their surfing skills during the dinner prep.

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Isn’t the finished product of this Risotto dish beautiful?!  This was my first time eating Risotto at home and it was so creamy.  The tomatoes and peppers were so flavorful.  I felt so satisfied after this meal!  We are trying to incorporate some vegetarian meals into our meal plan each week and this was a huge success.

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For our second meal we made the Mexican-Spiced Beef & Rice Bowls w/Sautéed Zucchini & Tomatoes.  This one was my favorite.

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I could not get enough of the tomatoes that we had in both of these meals.  They tasted like the ones right out of my sister’s garden.  There was also a creamy lime sauce that we put on after the picture too that was perfect with the kick of spice in this dish.  I am always very happy with how amazing the meat tastes from Blue Apron.  I already want this dish again.  Another win for Blue Apron.

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Skye finished her sweet potatoes but wanted to dig in on our meal too;)

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I was listening to Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations with Michael Pollan where they discussed conscious eating.  He shared many things during this podcast that I really enjoyed.  I typed it while listening to it. One thing that he said really hit me hard and it was all about how important it is to not give up cooking and eating together:

“The more I realized that so many of our problems owed to the collapse of cooking.  That home cooking is not happening the way it used to.  We only spend 27 minutes a day, on average, cooking.  We are letting corporations cook our food and that is at the heart of many of the problems we face.  The obesity epidemic, the epidemic of type 2 diabetes, these things are the result of letting industry cook for us because they don’t cook very well…  We are not going to fix these problems if people are fleeing the kitchen.   The meal is a kind of communion. The meal is a place where we take the world into our bodies, where we engage with one another.  Think about what happens at the table.  The kinds of conversations that happen, I mean it is the heart of our social life and we are giving it up.  Cooking is an expression of love and energy.  Meals are sacred occasions and that we should take them more seriously.”  

I do not want to give up on the amazing connections and bonding that happens over a meal together with my family.  My mom always made sure that we all ate dinner together at the table each night (except for Friday nights, that was my parents’ date night:) and I want to continue doing this with my family.

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We have a few rituals that we love to do at dinnertime and I thought I would share ours with you.  I would love to hear about the things that you do too if there are people that you share mealtime with!

*The kids are in charge of setting the table.  That is their job and they have gotten pretty speedy at it.

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*Skye is in charge of keeping Beretta entertained while we prepare the meal.

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*We sit down and fold our arms and one of us offers a prayer to bless our food.

*Then we go around the table and each of us says something that we are grateful for (Brooke and Knox always try to be the first person to say what they are grateful for;).  We used to go around just one time and say one thing but now we go around three times each night at dinner (the kid’s idea).  This is my favorite part of the meal because they have the most random brains sometimes and I get a chance to hear what they are thinking about.

*Then we go around and everyone shares the best part of the day and the hardest part of their day.  We used to just share the best parts of our day but realized that the table was the perfect time for the kids to share the hard stuff with us too.  We want them to be able to talk to us about how to cope with the hard stuff.  We also want to start at an early age to let them know they can talk to us about everything and that life isn’t just flowers and sunshine.  We have to work through the rough spots too—>  Even if at this point that is usually just something about losing their toy or stubbing their toe… we want them to know we care and we are listening.

*We do not use devices during our meals together.  I snap a picture of whatever I’m eating or a picture of the kids with their food and then adios to technology.  The only distractions I’m okay with during our time at the table is thinking about how delicious the meal is that we are eating.  We have Knox for 50% of our dinners and Brooke is gone sometimes too so we work really hard to make the time at the dinner table a time of eye contact, laughing, sharing and connecting.

*We usually end up sitting at the table for about 30 minutes together (our kids are slow eaters) which I personally love.  Skye is out of the newborn stage where dinner was her witching hour so it is a really great part of our day.

*The kids are in charge of taking the plates over to the sink and put away the place mats.  I usually do the dishes.  Andrew does most of the cooking and I do most of the cleaning because I have this weird DNA from my mom that enjoys cleaning up after a meal.  I can’t go to bed at night without a clean kitchen thanks to her;)

And that is how our dinner usually goes… along with plenty of randomness thrown in by the kids depending on how much energy they have or how tired they are!

I hope that you are able to get in some good meals with the people that are important to you.  I hope we can continue spending time in the kitchen together enjoying an amazing meal and that is what I love most about Blue Apron… they help us to do just that!

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The first 50 readers to sign up HERE will get $50 off their first two weeks of Blue Apron!   There is no commitment and you can skip or cancel Blue Apron at any time.  Prices start as low as $7.49 a serving (and with the coupon here for the first two weeks it is even cheaper)!  Blue Apron ships now to most of the country so try it out if you haven’t yet.

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Are you a fast eater or a slow eater or somewhere in the middle?

What are some of your dinner rituals?  

What is your ideal time to eat dinner?

-5 pm is our favorite time to eat dinner but we usually eat closer to 6.

Would you rather do the meal prep or the meal clean-up?

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38 comments

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Aww I love your dinnertime routines. It was very rare that my family ever sat at the dinner table together growing up, and now I eat most of my dinners alone (and a lot of times on the go), so it’s always nice to hear that people do that. And I really appreciate that you have the kids talk about the tough stuff, too. It’s important to let them do that and not pretend that everything is sunshine and daisies all of the time.

I’d say 6 or 6:30 is the perfect time for dinner for me. If it’s any later than that, the hanger definitely kicks in!

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Yes for sure! Wish we could go together to get some froyo today! Have a wonderful day Natalie!

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Dinner time is my favorite! It is such a special family time. Usually for us its just me and my younger two. My husband isn’t usually home for dinner during the week and our oldest is about to head back to college. Its a true blessing when all 5 of us are around the table.

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Oh I bet you love that feeling so much when all 5 of you are together! The best! Back to college–> That must be so hard!

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Love the Skye and Beretta picture!

As a non-parent, I really try to not judge parental strategies. And I succeed except for when I see kids at a dinner table with the iPad :) So glad you and the fam actually speak and look at each other over the meal time!

I’d rather do the cleanup.

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Amanda, you are the best. There is just something that feels so good about making your kitchen clean! I hope you are having a great day so far!

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It sounds like your family has a great dinnertime plan, which is important for kids that age.

We don’t cook dinner every night (my husband and I both work full time and are triathlon training) but we do a big batch cook over the weekend together so we know what is in our dinner every night. We love doing that together each weekend.

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Oh I love that you guys make all of your food over the weekend… such a good idea and so nice to have it there waiting for you after a crazy day of work and training. I love it! Have a beautiful day… and sorry about the bbq joint this time hahah!

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We try to eat between 5-6 too. We do pretty good to start dinner around 5:30 most nights but it mostly depends on how the kids are that day haha.

I’d rather cook the meal than clean up, but my grandma was one who would rather clean. I think I got my other grandma’s genes on that one.

Your kids are awesome at trying new foods! My kids put up such a fight to try anything new.

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It’s the best time to eat:) You come over and cook and I will clean. IT’S ALMOST HALF MARATHON TIME… I can’t wait to see you rock it!

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We always did family dinners! I never thought much of it, but I imagine it’s part of why I’m so close to my family. I actually just moved out on my own and it’s so weird having to discipline myself to eat at normal times and focus on the food instead of snacking endlessly while doing a hundred other things. Even in college, I at least had roommates, and now it’s just me and a puppy.

I like eating early (between 4 and 6) but then I kind of want to go to bed before 8. So, I usually push dinner till closer to 7 so I go to bed at a more normal time. Like… when it’s dark.

I’ve cooked the meals since high school and love it, but haven’t had to do the cleanup until just recently… it’s not as fun :P

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YES… Oh I totally bet that is part of why you guys are so close. I just went to your blog and saw your puppy… CUTEST DOG! I am going to have to show Brooke your puppy:) Hahah I love going to bed early too! I hope you have a great day!

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Aww thank you! He knows he’s cute – it’s how he gets away with being ornery :) Have a fabulous day, Janae!

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You guys ought to check out Kettlebell Kitchen. They’re pretty great.

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Wow, that looks awesome! I’d never heard of them before! Thank you! How are you?!? So I’m upping my mileage a bit at a time… have any more tips for me? I really look up to your training! Have a wonderful day!

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It’s really great service and food.

Unfortunately, I had a weird accident on an NYC bus with my knee, and I’ve been down ever since, trying to get back :/. I might have to cut the NYCM this year…

As you up your mileage, don’t skimp on recovery (and indeed, increase it as you go). Also food, food, food–> protein, protein, protein, and calcium, and iron (hello spinach, collard greens, and lentils!). Try to work in some red meat. (I’m not a fan at all of red meat, but it really does wonders for your recovery, sadly..[or happily if you’re a fan :p]).

Best wishes, and keep at it!
R Kay

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We try to sit down together for dinner every night also. Usually between 5:30 and 6 is ideal for us. I wouldn’t say I was a slow eater but sure seems that way these days trying to get a 3 year old fed at the same time. My husband is a super fast eater. Some days I wonder if he even tasted the food because he ate it so fast. I would prefer to prepare the food but my husband has sort of taken over that since he really hates the clean up. But I am like you, I want a clean kitchen before I go to bed. I also need some risotto in my life after seeing your pictures. That is one of my favorites.

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Hahah that is true… I am a way slower eater now trying to get Skye fed too! I hope you have some risotto soon and I hope your kitchen is nice and clean just the way you like it:) Enjoy your day Corrinne!

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I love that you all share about your day, that’s pretty awesome 😊 My sister started doing a game with my niece, 6, and nephew, 4. They share a sunny part of their day and a stormy part of their day. The adults do it too (although I’m sure they hold back a little. Lol). I totally agree that it is such an important part of being a family. My mom always made sure we all ate dinner together as much as possible as kids… and then on Sundays as adults. Now we live very far apart, but we always get together for Christmas and reunions.
I am the slow eater in my house, and I eat fast so that tells you something. Haha.
I think I prefer cooking to cleaning up, but I’m the same as you in that I need to have a clean kitchen! I also blame my mom for that 😉

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Okay, tell your sister that we are totally going to copy her, I LOVE THAT–> Sunny and stormy. I love the internet and learning from each other, thanks for sharing. Yes, it’s our mom’s faults (or thank goodness they taught us to keep a clean kitchen haha)! I hope your Wednesday is a great one!

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I love that paragraph from Oprah’s podcast!!!
I too, love that my family eats dinner together almost every night. We do have little phases when that doesn’t happen because of wacky schedules, but I truly believe it is so important to have that time together. And, we too have a no technology rule during dinner. This is our time to talk about the day or week, talk about the good and not so good, and time to laugh and just be together. My kids are older (17 and 14), and we have been making dinner family time since they were teeny tiny. I think because of that, and always being open and willing to communicate, we haven’t had a lot of teenage drama/issues that some of my friends have experienced. I hope they both do the same when they have families of their own.
Both my hubby and I love to cook and prepare great meals, but I am the one who usually cleans up… which is fine, because I am weird like you and kind of enjoy the post meal clean-up and making sure the kitchen is clean before going to bed. :)
Thanks for sharing the great meals you get from Blue Apron. They really do look amazing!

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Wendy, I love everything that you said. You are an amazing mom and your kids are so lucky to have you and to have you make dinner time so special. I love it. Share any other things with me that you have done to avoid all of the teenage drama please:) Thanks so much and have an amazing day!

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Oh, thank you! We’re all just trying to be the best moms we can, right?
And, I have boys, so I think inherently they just come with less drama than girls do ;) But so much of our running can be applied to all areas of life… especially parenting! It sometimes feels like you are running up the longest hill trying to get to the top and over the other side because you know there will an easy downhill after that climb. But, even in the tough times on that hill, don’t forget to enjoy the challenges because in the end, those challenges make us stronger and a better person/better mom. Kids learn so much by watching us. So it’s ok for them to see us struggle and then get through the struggles. My husband and I try to be open and honest with our boys, so that they learn it’s a good thing for them to be open and honest with us.
I think you and Andrew are doing this whole parenting thing right too! Enjoy each stage of their ages, it really does keep getting better <3

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Blue Apron is fun! And yes, marathon training = love food even more! I’m in the same boat sister! That picture of Skye and Barreta is adorable! Device free dinner is a must for my husband and I too! We tend to eat whenever he gets home. I tend to beat him home so I prep the food but when I’m the last to arrive, he starts the cook! It’s usually around 5 or 6. I’d rather do meal prep than clean up but my husband helps with both so it’s not so bad!

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YESSSS tech free dinner! I love it. You guys have figured out the perfect routine for you two! I hope your day is filled with a lot of great things. THanks so much Virjinia!

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I generally cook and my husband does the clean up (no kiddos) and we sit down together most nights. And oh boy, we are fast eaters. It always amazes me that I can spend 45 minutes or more cooking and then we’re done eating in 5 :) At least we hang out together while I cook and chat about our day, so that ends up being a nice time together.

High fives to the kids for setting the table and how nice that Skye can hang out at dinnertime now, that’s a game changer.

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Definitely a fast eater. Ha. My partner goes, babe, slow down :p. Definitely would choose meal prep.

I hear you about technology – my partner is not addicted to technology and always encourages me to put away my phone – which I am being better about. What a great idea to insist on no technology during dinner! I have a girl friend who will spend our all our together on the phone – so I pointed out gently to her – that I came to see her, and not to watch her text/play on social media haha.

I haven’t tried Blue Apron yet but maybe we will after your post.

Have a fantastic day!

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What a great dinner ritual. My family rarely did family dinners since my dad was often out of town for work and my mom stayed home, she would make my dinner for me around 4:30 right after school because I would be starving. We all ate different meals and different things. Not the most organized. I’m not sure how my future meals will look like, but I love reading your ideas.

Also I can’t go to bed with a messy kitchen either. It would bug me so much in college when my roommates would have the sink stacked with dishes and we had a dishwasher. I also prefer the counter all cleaned off so that morning is a fresh start.

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I’m a super fast eater! Too fast I’m sure. My kids are slower because they goof off with each other. I usually ask my kids what made them happy/ sad today at bedtime but dinner seems like a good time for a conversation too. Sometimes my husband isn’t home until later and we have dinner without him though. My kids are picky and i don’t much like dinner because they don’t eat much of what I serve and it sometimes become a battle. How do you handle when they don’t want it?

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We try and ask 4 questions:
what was you’re favorite part of the day? what was something you didn’t like today? Can you tell me how you showed kindness or love today?
do you have any questions from today?

My kids are still young 4,3 and 1 so I rarely get answers from the last question but we keep trying.

I also have a really hard time
Keeping them at the table – hence the questions! ITs something we are working on but is so hard!

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Okay, I LOVE the question about how they showed kindness or love. I am going to add that to our dinner conversation. You are BUSY–> 4,3 and 1! Hahah yes, I have a feeling we will be joining you in that problem soon as Skye gets older:) Thanks Tina!

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Love your dinner ritual! i may borrow your ideas and incorporate…

i’m a really fast eater, as is hubs

our dinner rituals are usually 2 people make something while remaining person gets table ready. this person also usually cleans up. it’s usually me and LO or husband and LO making something. if it’s a seriously intensive meal both of us will be in the kitchen, but that usually doesn’t happen. during dinner we usually eat and discuss the food and how it tastes and how we could improve for the next time. if there’s something off we’ll talk about that. if it’s amazing we’ll talk about how great it is and say we should make it for _these people_ or for _this occasion_ we usually ask about each other’s day and how it went. there’s usually something forgotten that we’ll remember while eating too.

ideal time for dinner is 5:30-6 pm!

i am indifferent about meal prep or meal clean up! i like not making decisions, but i like not cleaning too :)

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I grew up eating dinner all together at the dinner table. The only time we were allowed to eat in the family room was if it was pizza night! I’d like to continue that tradition with my family. Right now my husband and I eat mostly in the family room since we have a 10 week old and don’t have a chair for her and doesn’t like it if she is awake and we are in a different room. I love the idea of going around the table to talk about your highs and lows! In college when we had formal dinner at the sorority house, we’d do high low high for our week. It’s a great way to get your kids comfortable talking about their problems as well as their celebrations!
In the summer, we eat pretty late… we try for 6-7, but sometimes it ends up around 8pm!
I like meal prepping, but I’m such a slow food chopper! I don’t know how the pros do it so fast and make it look easy! I also don’t mind clean up! I try to clean up as I go, to make it easier!

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I was a slow eater, then during my kids baby and toddler stage, I became a fast eater, now she’s 10 so I’m a slow eater again. lol We do basically the same as your family. We all sit down together, say meal time prayer, we do chat about our day but I love your idea of saying a good and bad part of your day. My kid is going into 5th grade, and sometimes school can be hard. Meal time has brought up many topics that need talked about. No devices. No TV. We had some disagreements about this during the toddler stage, one of us (not me) thought it would help her sit still and eat. I stood firm and we are both glad now. It really taught her to sit still in a restaurant and else where (with no tv), and talk about our day while eating. It’s truly one of my favorite times of the day.

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Dinner time is a STRUGGLE in our house. We have a 4 year old and a 1 year old. We get home from work/pick them up from daycare at 5:30. Everyone is crabby, picky and it’s a very nutty time!! I wish we all sat together, talked, and ate the same thing, but rather it’s a lot of running around, microwaving and begging the toddler to eat his vegetables while telling the 1 year old not to throw food! tell me it gets better!!! xoxo

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