Although all the pomp and circumstance of Valentine’s Day is behind us the bonding and lovefest with your kids can and should continue! And one way to do that is to EAT DINNER WITH THEM! Laurie David, producer of the academy award winning documentary An Inconvenient Truth, environmental activist, mom to two daughters and of course ex-wife of the infamous Larry David is encouraging families to break bread together in her book “The Family Dinner: Great Ways to Connect with Your Kids, One Meal at a Time”.
I’ll be honest- you don’t need to do much to get me excited about eating dinner with my kidlets- sans TV, especially if you throw some mashed potatoes into the mix…but I digress! Keep reading for my Q&A with Ms. David about why Family Dinners are truly the ultimate window into finding out just what your kids are really up to…
The Staten Island Family: What’s the real reason families are so disconnected these days?
Laurie David: There are a lot of reasons but top of the list I would name three things – the computer (and cell phones), the television and the microwave. The microwave because it cooks one unhealthy meal at a time, the computers and cell phones because people are addicted and they are sucking up enormous amounts of free time that would normally be spent with family, and the television because too many people have it on during meals and are focused on it instead of each other.
The Staten Island Family: What is your one favorite meal to cook with your daughters and why?
Laurie David: One of my daughters loves to cook and the other not so much. But my favorite thing to cook with them is not a meal but a dessert. And here’s the tip and you’ll find the recipe in the The Family Dinner book – make a big batch of chocolate chip cookie dough and keep rolls of it in your freezer. My daughter loves making fresh homemade chocolate chip cookies and we can do this in 12 minutes time by pulling out a roll, slicing the cookies and baking them in the oven. The big perk is that your whole house smells like you’ve been baking all day. Now I know there are prepackaged chocolate chip cookies you can buy in the supermarket, but they won’t taste nearly as good and your daughter won’t be able to say she really made them.
The Staten Island Family: Is hard being a single mom any advice you’d give to other single moms trying to incorporate the family dinner into their busy, hectic lives?
Laurie David: My piece of advice is to loosen up your definition of what dinner is. Dinner can be peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, soup and a salad, or even healthy take out. The real key to dinner is the fact that you all sit down together at the same time, eat the same food, all screens off, and have fun.
There are many ways to keep your family dinner rituals going even as a super busy mom. One great idea is to share meal making with a friend or family member. So, for example, if you’re making a dish like a speedy pasta in a pan, (one of my favorite recipes in The Family Dinner book!), make a second one for a friend. The next night when she’s making a big pot of soup, she can make enough for your family too. Then you have two home cooked meals, and you’ve only cooked one night! (plus hopefully you’ll have leftovers too!). Another one of my favorite things to do is to double up whatever I’m cooking on a Sunday. One for dinner Sunday or Monday, and then I’ll freeze one meal for another night. And obviously, the key for any hectic mom — single or not — is to plan ahead as much as possible!
The Staten Island Family: If you had one piece of advice for moms out there when it comes to parenting what would it be?
Laurie David: Start your family dinner ritual as soon as you can because as kids get older and hit those teen years every single thing you’ve heard about how hard it’s going to be is true and an established family dinner ritual will definitely help you all get through it.
You also MIGHT want to pick up a few of these Mr. Food Face Plates too!