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The B4FD Project features blog posts from guest writers that explore the far-reaching benefits of family dinner.

Family Dinner Month 2012: Sept 17 -- Oct 29, 2012

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Dinner at Home…

by Rachael Warrington

Dinner at home, a simple statement but loaded with complication. At least that seems to be how America sees dinner at home. We would rather go out and grab something, anything, than to go home and cook a meal. I know because I have fallen into that deep dark pit myself. Let me explain….

I work full time, in food service. I am a food service manager for a private school; we produce about 400 lunches a day. We do a lot of from scratch, healthy cooking for our students. I am surrounded with food….shopping, ordering, getting menus together, logistics, personnel, and cooking. This is my day life, so when I go home I get to do it all again. I am exhausted just like every other family cook.

This new year, I am taking the pledge, family dinners it is! I use a menu mailer to help me not think. I shop once a week, keeping only items in the fridge for that week. We have downsized our fridge; freezer on the top, fridge on the bottom. It is small and we only buy what we can use in a week. That commercial about throwing away half your grocery cart, is all too true. So nip it in the bud….more about that in another post.

I have two teenage daughters, 16 and 18. I also have a 20 year old son that works evenings and is unable to join us nightly, but that is not an excuse for the rest of us. It is so important that we eat together; it is when the girls talk to my husband and me. They tell us about their day, what happened, how a certain class went and what they did during lunch. They open up without even being aware of it. They fight me on the making of dinner and cleaning up, but once we get into it, they are on board. This is precious, precious time and it will set up traditions for their own families.

I believe in eating a home cooked meal more times then most. I think that we are cheating our children when we don’t shop, plan and prepare family meals. We have a generation who has no idea how to feed themselves. They have no idea what half the produce is in the bins, how to plan a meal with whole grains, beans, or real meat. They don’t understand the different cuts of roast beef, how to cook a whole chicken or the difference between pork tenderloin or a pork loin. They have no clue how to take a tough piece of beef into a luscious stew.

We need to change that for our children and our grandchildren. We need to cook again. We need to model behaviors that will benefit them for a lifetime. And in the process, they will learn how to shop, plan, prepare, cook, eat, clean up for themselves. Cooking and eating dinner together will build confidence in our children, and ourselves. Cooking at home will keep us healthier. Cook for our family, cook for our selves, cook for the future.

Rachael Warrington is a Food Service Manager at a school in Kansas and the mother of three. Her blog is Headcook and BottleWasher.

She writes: “It was not until I was 40 that I realized what I wanted to be when I grew up: A Foodie.  I love to read about food, cook food and of course eat food.  I am a wife and mother and that is the most important thing to me.  We own a small farm with several kinds of animals and we grow heirloom tomatoes for market.  We try to live our lives with integrity toward the earth.  We cherish each other most of the time, and we face the outside world together.  We are a family first.”

6 comments to Dinner at Home…

  • Jackie Cooper

    I have had the privilege of having a meal or two with Rachael and her family. Not only is she an incredible cook who takes great care in using only the best ingredients but also a loving mom. I witnessed a family enjoying a meal and their time together.
    I am learning the value of this special family time. Family’s schedules are too full today and it’s a shame. Truly this precious family time is a great loss in today’s American culture.

    • Thank you for your comment! One thing I love about the Blog for Family Dinner project is that it shines a light on all the families who are working hard to make family dinner a priority. (And we hope give advice and support to others!) Thanks to Rachael and many others for sharing how and why you make it work!

  • Carol

    Rachael is working hard to let people know how easy it can be to cook healthy food for your family and how important that is. Keep spreading the word.

  • I am Rachael’s little sister (by 23 years)…and she was my inspiration growing up when it came to cooking. Between her and my mom, I was raised knowing that cooking was part of being a family, and could be fun and enjoyable. Now, cooking is a creative outlet for me. I love sharing what I make with people, trying new recipes, and having a garden where we grow and eat our own produce. As a photographer and designer, while those are a huge part of my life, job and other “outlets”, cooking is right there alongside them, and providing healthy, home-cooked, nutritious meals for my husband and small children (one of which is pictured above!) is incredibly important to me. Rachael is am amazing cook, sister, mom and friend. She has taught me to much, and I am so proud to see her on this blog!

  • Mike

    Good post. Looks like you have some interesting recipes on your blog, too. Thanks.

  • Heidi

    My boys attend school where Rachael manages, and I am continually blessed by her passion and knowledge. This article is so true. It is easy to put meals on the back burner because of the busyness of life. I do not always love to cook, but I think meal time is so important. At mealtime our family always talks about the highlights of our day and concerns. Eating healthy is a passion in our home!
    Thank you Rachael for your heart for others. You always keep going and I admire you!