Disclosure: This post is in collaboration with Balance Your Plate and Stouffer’s. As part of the collaboration, I received product and incentives in exchange for participating in the program.
It is only 2 weeks until Thanksgiving 2016! TWO WEEKS people! Can you believe it? And I’m not letting myself do the Christmas countdown until after Thanksgiving this year. All too often we skip from Halloween straight to Christmas prep and I’ve vowed not to do that this year. I’m slowing down and taking the time to be Thankful for everything we’ve been blessed with this year. So, Thanksgiving is next on our Holiday list.
With that said, life it still crazy busy. And since I’m in the planning stages for Thanksgiving dinner for 20+ people I’m not really in the mood to cook huge dinners during the week. But there are 6 of us and we have to eat, right? Simpler meals during this time of the year are a must!
I have some tips to help make family meal time great again!
- Keep it simple – mealtime during the week does not have to be this big extravagant affair. A simple, healthy, balanced meal with an entree and 1 – 2 sides is fine.
- Start with a frozen entree and add to it – This is one way to help keep mealtime simple. There are some really great frozen entrees out there. Our favorite brand is Stouffer’s because their meals are made with premium ingredients and are a great base to build a balanced meal around.
- Let the kids pick a side – If your kids are super picky like ours, letting them pick a healthy side, either their favorite or from a list of options, is a great way to get them involved and to the table.
- No phones at the table – This is one Clay and I have to work on because it seems like his parent’s all call right at our supper time. We eat later than most because if his work schedule. But they can leave a voicemail and if it is urgent call back. Otherwise, we’ll call back after supper. You can’t have time together if your face is stuck in a phone.
- Converse with each other – Really, it’s not that hard. Ask your kids about their day. Supper time is a great time for the kids to relax and tell you what they’ve learned that day.
- Do the cooking and the clean up together – The kids can help pre-heat the oven, watch the timer and help prepare a side dish. After the meal is over they can help load the dishwasher or dry hand-washed dishes and put them away.
Our oldest daughter loves lasagna. I think that is one of her favorite foods. She loves my homemade lasagna but I just haven’t felt like making it from scratch. I really like Stouffer’s Family Size Lasagna with Meat & Sauce. It isn’t 100% like mine but it is so close in flavor and tastes so good that my super (and I mean SUPER) picky kids all eat it. I use it a lot when we are wanting a pasta. It has fresh tomato sauce and uses real mozzarella. It is so good!
It is really rich and tasty so I like to add something green and fresh to meal time because it is important to balance your plate. Clay and I have been eating a lot of romaine lettuce lately to get more benefit than just plain Iceberg lettuce.
For a very simple, quick, but delicious side to our Lasagna with Meat & Sauce I use chopped romaine lettuce, grape tomatoes, cucumber, colby/jack shredded cheese, avocado, croutons and a tiny bit of ranch flavored dressing to give it some creaminess. I pre-mix everything in a bowl, minus the dressing. The kids like to add their own dressing to their salad. And Clay loves to toss in some bacon bits.
It’s so pretty and fresh and helps cut the richness of the Lasagna with Meat & Sauce. We also usually have garlic toast but when I fixed supper last night, I completely forgot the toast! Busy minds…
Sometimes, with this Lasagna with Meat & Sauce, we’ll have a baked potato and sometimes we’ll have corn on the cob. They all make great sides with the Stouffer’s Family Size Lasagna with Meat & Sauce but there is just something about a nice, green salad that really puts the meal over the top!
Ok, I’ve talked a lot about Lasagna with Meat & Sauce. We buy the family size for our meal time because we have a lot of mouths to feed. I didn’t tell you much about it, though, so here some info about Lasagna with Meat & Sauce as well as Stouffer’s new initiative to create simpler meals.
Stouffer’s has recently announced its new “Kitchen Cupboard” commitment. This new initiative focuses on shortening and simplifying recipes that only include ingredients that consumers can recognize and can find at home, like vine-ripened tomatoes, freshly made pasta, and real mozzarella.
This effort begins with Stouffer’s Lasagna with Meat and Sauce, one of the brand’s classic offerings. The simpler recipe now contains fewer ingredients, but continues to offer the same great taste consumers know and love.
Over the next few years, consumers will see Kitchen Cupboard renovations across existing and new products. The guidelines include:
- Using ingredients that consumers trust and recognize, like what they would use in their own home kitchens, with no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives
- Working on simplified recipes that result in great taste with fewer ingredients
- Offering recipes that provide consumers with the same, or better, dining experience at a good value
I think it’s great! We use these go-to meal solutions a lot so I love knowing that they will now have more of the ingredients we want and less of the ones we don’t.
What are some ideas you have for keeping meal time simple and making meal time great again?