The Family Meal – Better Than a Longer School Day

“Today I’m participating in a mass blogging! WOW! Women on Writing has gathered a group of blogging buddies to write about family relationships. Why family relationships? We’re celebrating the release of Therese Walsh’s debut novel today. The Last Will of Moira Leahy (Random House, October 13, 2009) is about a mysterious journey that helps a woman learn more about herself and her twin, whom she lost they were teenagers. Visit the Muffin www.wow-womenonwriting.com/blog.html to read what Therese has to say about family relationships and view the list of all my blogging buddies. And make sure you visit www.theresewalsh.com to find out more about the author.”

The President wants our children to spend extra hours in school each week. I have to disagree with him on this point. While America’s school children may be falling behind the world, for many another hour or two in school isn’t going to fix the problem. Yes, there are more facts to learn today than 50 years ago, but as any adult who has forgotten their algebra can tell you, facts are not the most important thing learned in school. Where to find the information you need, how to learn, how to interpret and how to get along in the world are the most important lessons of all. An easier and less expensive way to learn those lessons than keeping our children locked up in a building with few windows? Bring back the family meal.

For years now studies have shown that children who eat with their family have better social relationships and better grades than their non-family meal peers. Think of all that you learn at a family meal; being open to unfamiliar ideas (“try just one bite”), how to share (splitting the last brownie with your sister) how to sit still (“you are not excused yet”), proper deportment (“keep your feet under your chair”), learning about new ideas (“so Dad, what did you do today”), learning about consequences (“so Billy, what did you do today”), learning self-restraint (“don’t eat so fast!”), how to budget (tuna casserole again), how to carve out your own place in a group (living with other members of your family), and how to get along with your spouse (see, you learned how to relate to others by living all those years with your little brother!).

The list goes on, but over the years many people have given up the family meal due to lack of time and cooking know-how. Don’t believe those TV cooking shows, you don’t have to be a gourmet cook to fix a meal for the whole family. Some of our family favorites were Greta’s Favorite Casserole, a quick concoction of ground beef, pasta, tomato sauce and cheddar cheese soup, homemade one-pot Tomato Beef Stew and grilled Vegetable Quesadillas, full of canned black beans, corn, cheese and tomato and grilled indoors on the electric grill.  None of these meals took very long to prepare or cost very much either. But they all led to the whole family sitting around the dinner table, sharing our day, learning new skills, and enjoying each others’ company. I’m sorry Mr. President. As a former teacher, a mother and grandmother, I can tell you that warehousing our children isn’t the answer. But sharing a family meal? It’s better than a longer school day!

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All the recipes mentioned, plus many many more, can be found in my budget-friendly cookbook, I Want My Dinner Now! – Simple Meals for Busy Cooks. Every recipe is written for both 2 servings and 6 servings and includes “serve with” suggestions to round out the meal.

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About the Author

Renee Pottle, an author and heart-healthy educator, loves to explore and write about the Mediterranean Diet. She blogs at SeedToPantry.com and HestiasKitchen.com.

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