I read an article today titled “The home-cooked family dinner: Yes, it’s a burden for moms but is it worthwhile?” from the Washington Post. The article isn’t new, dated 2014, but all of the questions may still be asked contemporarily. Do we really need family dinner? Is family dinner a burden that we, primarily women, should carry? Do the benefits outweigh the inherent struggle?
For me, the answer is undoubtedly yes, to all three. The takeaway, and I realize that I may be preaching to the choir here, was that family dinner is an integral part of working toward increasing the health of your family– not just physically, but mentally as well. Research shows that kids who eat family dinner five or more times a week are proven to do better in school, to be more adverse to drug and alcohol abuse, less prone to depression, and more likely to avoid eating disorders.
The more I learn about and experience family dinner, the more sold I’ve become. I really do need to give credit where credit is due and recognize Aviva Goldfarb and her meal planning service The Six O’clock Scramble because she and her team are the reason that our family dinners have succeeded.
I’ve written about The Scramble, and sung its praises here on Refined + Rugged more than once, but I really do credit the simple, straigtforward menus, easy grocery lists, and customizable meal plans that The Scramble offers for keeping us on the family dinner wagon for SO LONG- going on seven years now, I believe. You know it’s good when you’ll recommend it to every person you meet, call a radio talk show just to drop the name, and write Instagram love letters to the founder because you life has been so changed! 🙂
To my mother and close friends I’ve joked that it only took me eight years of being home to figure out how to make a home-cooked meal, but the reality is that there will be some trial and error if you do decide to jump on the train and begin family dinners.
However, an equally important reality offered in the article was that of dinnertime flexibility. Anne Kruger, former editor-in-chief at Parenting magazine explains, “I remember as a working mom dragging my kids to Arby’s after picking them up from day-care and kindergarten because I was just too tired to cook when my husband was out of town.” She continues, “I’d let them watch ‘The Simpsons’ in Arby’s and pray that nobody I knew would see me because of [my position] I should have been ‘doing better.’ Which is ridiculous, because we’re all doing the best we can.”
That is the ultimate truism. So this Thursday, friends, I hope you find yourselves in the kitchen, or find yourselves grabbing dinner at some fast food joint. I hope that you feel good about it either way! If you’re home, this meal was SIMPLE, DELICIOUS, and HEALTHY. All things I’ve come to expect from The Six O’clock Scramble which is still the biggest family dinner silver bullet I’ve found.
- 1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 white or yellow onion, finely chopped (1 cup)
- 1 carrot, finely chopped (1/2 cup)
- 1 tsp. dried oregano
- 1 tsp. minced garlic, (1 – 2 cloves)
- 1 1/2 lbs. lean ground beef, turkey or chicken, or use 24 oz. meatless crumbles
- 3/4 cup ketchup, or use tomato sauce
- 1 cup Italian-style bread crumbs (use wheat/gluten-free if needed), I used almond flour with 1 1/2 Tbsp. Italian seasoning added
- 2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard (use wheat/gluten-free if needed)
- 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
- 1 egg
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a skillet, heat the oil over medium heat and sauté the onions, carrots, oregano and garlic for 3 – 5 minutes until the vegetables are tender (if using meatless crumbles, add them now too and cook for 3 – 4 extra minutes). Remove them from the heat and let them cool for about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, combine the remaining ingredients, then add the onion and carrot mixture, and stir thoroughly.
Spray a 12-cup muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray. Spoon the meat mixture into the cups, dividing evenly — each mini meatloaf should completely fill a muffin cup but won’t go much over the top of it. Bake the meatloaf muffins for 30 minutes. (Meanwhile, prepare the carrots and the potatoes, if you are serving them.) Remove the muffins from the oven and let them sit for 5 minutes before serving, or refrigerate them for up to 2 days or freeze them for up to 3 months.
*The Six O’Clock Scramble is a meal planning service to which you can subscribe here. For a fantastic price you will receive 8 weekly meals which means 8 recipes (main course plus a side dish), complete grocery list, the ability to tweak the number of people you are making for, and full nutrition facts.
PLUS tips as to how best to PREP your meal beforehand, add a punch of FLAVOR, and how to SLOW COOK almost every recipe if you’re especially slammed that night. This wonderful service really does live up to it’s name. You can come home at 6 p.m. and be sitting down to a DELICIOUS, HEALTHY, HOME COOKED meal by 6:30 p.m. most nights.