Family dinner at home: it’s back in a big way. When social distancing began due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many restaurants were forced to close their doors until further notice. And since most of us are staying home these days, we have the luxury of sitting down and eating all our meals together. Right now, that’s a great thing we can do for ourselves. Enjoying dinner together as a family has many benefits, like promoting healthier eating habits and encouraging positive family communication. It’s also a great opportunity to relax and enjoy one another’s company! To help you make the most of your family meals, I have some great recipes and fun ideas to share with you.
Easy Family Dinner Ideas
When disaster strikes, it can be helpful to look for silver linings. One of the more positive effects of the coronavirus outbreak is an increased focus on health and wellness. Evidence currently shows that you’re less likely to experience complications from COVID-19 if you’re in good health. (You should still wear a mask and make every effort to practice social distancing, of course!) So if you’ve been overdoing it on quarantine comfort food lately, there’s no time like the present to give your daily eating plan a makeover.
Thankfully, it’s easy to put together a dinner for your family that supports the immune system and leave everyone feeling satisfied. Ideally, you should balance lean protein with colorful veggies and whole grains at every meal. Need some cooking inspiration? You might try some of my favorite tasty recipes, like flavorful lentil dhal or simple, comforting chicken bone broth. You can enjoy the broth on its own or use it to prepare a crowd-pleaser like chicken noodle soup.
If your family adheres to a mostly (or entirely) plant-based diet, check out my great vegetarian recipes, like spicy kale and coconut fried rice. If not, you might consider trying some delicious veggie-based recipes just for fun. You’ll be doing something good for everyone in your household since a no-meat or low-meat diet offers amazing benefits for your health. You’ll enjoy reduced risk of heart disease, stroke, hypertension, diabetes, and many other serious conditions.
If you’re pressed for time—or if cooking from scratch just isn’t your thing—try one of the popular meal kit delivery services for a shortcut to a great dinner. You can specify the number of people you’re cooking for and how often you’d like to receive kits. Many of the services offer customizations for a vegan, vegetarian, paleo, or gluten-free diet, as well. You’ll receive a box with pre-measured ingredients and easy-to-follow instructions so that you can prepare a delicious family dinner in 15–30 minutes. And some of the services even offer a free trial before you commit to regular delivery. What’s not to love?
Supporting Your Local Takeout Restaurants
Even if you really enjoy cooking for your family, you might find that some nights you need a little breather. Between working from home, homeschooling, and whatever else is currently on your plate (No pun intended!), life can be exhausting. It’s okay to give yourself a break and order takeout or delivery for dinner—in fact, it’s a great thing to do right now. Ordering in can help support your local businesses and prevent restaurants from closing.
When social distancing began, there was a good deal of speculation about the coronavirus’s impact on the economy. And, unfortunately, it has hit many people’s wallets hard, particularly those of the owners of small businesses and restaurants. Until recently, they’ve been completely unable to serve guests at all—only now are some states beginning to allow limited outdoor dining. So whether you’re craving pizza, pad thai, or a juicy burger, when you order in, you’re helping an owner to stay in business.
You may be wondering if it’s safe for your family to eat takeout during the pandemic, even as the curve flattens. Thankfully, experts believe that the risk of contracting the virus from handling food and food packaging is very low. Of course, you should still follow safety guidelines for everyone’s protection. Wear a face mask any time you pick up food at a restaurant. When ordering in, request that the driver leave your delivery on your doorstep and ring the bell for you. And, of course, everyone should wash their hands thoroughly before they eat. After that, you’re good to sit down together and enjoy!
Family Dinner Fun
Sometimes making dinner for the entire household can feel like a real drag. It isn’t easy to make meals that everyone will eat (especially if you’re cooking for some very picky eaters). And all that prep time can begin to wear on you, especially when you’re already feeling stretched too thin. Here are a few tips to maintain a positive attitude at the table and make your family dinner more fun:
- Enjoy planning meals together, from looking at recipes and shopping for groceries online to preparing and serving dinner. Take everyone’s preferences into account for dinners that your whole family will enjoy.
- Have a great conversation at the dinner table. You might think that there isn’t much to talk about, given that we’re all staying home—but maybe you just need a little inspiration. Check out these great ideas for what to talk about over dinner tonight.
- Ask for help cleaning up: loading the dishwasher, washing and drying dishes, putting away leftovers, and wiping down the kitchen. Everyone’s tired at the end of the day, and many hands make light work.
- Plan a fun bonding activity as a nightly post-dinner ritual, like a family game night at the kitchen table.
Social distancing has presented its share of challenges, to be sure. Just remember that it’s okay to look on the bright side, even in a high-stress situation. Right now, we can be grateful for the opportunity to enjoy dinner together as a family every night. And when guidelines have eased and you resume normal life, family dinner will be one new habit that’s worth holding onto. So enjoy that delicious meal and have a great night!