At times I worry about our children – will they ever grow up with the same simple memories that we have? Will they ever think back with fondness on the small events, like getting a new basketball goal, learning how to skip a rock, making a great catch or even just seeing a picture hung up on the fridge?
Will those things even matter?
I think they will – because I think they DO. They matter and so Nate and I have made a decision to instill in our children an appreciation for the simple and meaningful things in life, and one of those things is enjoying dinner around the table as a family.
When I was growing up it was extremely rare that we would not have dinner together – all four of us – every single night. Mom or Dad would cook dinner, my sister and I would set the table, and then we would pray and eat together. The news was always on softly in the background, but we would always have a full-blown conversation about our days. Even though I am an athletic person, sports never interested me until middle school, and I can still remember the day that I told my parents I had signed up for Competitive Athletics (volleyball, basketball, track) while we sat together eating home-cooked fried rice. They beamed with pride because it had been MY decision.
I remember the day my sister got in trouble for starting a food fight in elementary school and how I secretly was cracking up inside because really, it takes some creative genius to pull an event like that together. Sure, she was in trouble and I was glad I wasn’t, but I kind of admired her for it.
I remember the time I told my parents I was going on my first date and how awkward it was, even though I knew they needed to know. Sixteen’s a hard age, but I am so thankful that we had that safe haven of a dinner table to share those little bits of life at.
This life is short, and if there’s anything I’ve come to know it’s that the little things matter. They matter a lot – and if anyone is going to instill those sweet memories in our children then it’s going to be US. It’s going to take initiative and creativity to make meals around the table happen, and so that’s why Nate and I are working on this list of ways to make meal time happen, even when it’s hard:
- Meal prep, meal prep, meal prep. I often shake my head at the fact that anything gets done because it never feels like there are enough hours in the day. I’ve found that taking 2 hours or so on a weekend to chop veggies, cook rice, portion out proteins, etc. helps so much in getting dinner ready in a reasonable timeframe, especially with a toddler.
- Make one-pot meals. So easy to make, so easy to clean up, and they’re almost always fantastic. I think you guys will LOVE this recipe at the bottom of the post!
- It doesn’t always have to be dinner. Sometimes Nate has to work late, or we have a play date, or something else comes up. When we can plan for it we will always try to have breakfast all together, or an after dinner snack. It’s the togetherness that’s important!
- Cleaning is just as important. After every meal we try to clear the table together. Sometimes that means having Wes carry his plate to the sink, or push the chair back in. Small things now, but one day we want him to know that clearing that space is part of meal time and builds teamwork.
- Cooking together is fun too! A huge part of my passion for good, simple food comes from cooking with my parents. From cutting olives to frying chicken, building a salad to baking a cake we were always in the kitchen helping. It helped me see what food was all about, what serving really looked like, and that hard work paid off deliciously in the end!
I love when companies push the same values I hold dear, and GE Appliances does just that with their Weeknight Kitchen campaign. The need to for all of us to gather with people we love throughout the week is huge, and such a great way to build memories and reinforce relationships. The good food and easy cleanup is just a great way to support that! Here are some of the fantastic GE Appliances that help do just that:
- Hand-Free Auto Fill Refrigerator with an industry first hands-free auto fill actually fills water glasses automatically, which is so great for when you need to multitask.
- Double Oven Range with Tri Ring Burner helps control heat so that whether you need a super-high sear or a slow simmer, you can control the outcome of your amazing meal.
- Dishwasher with 102 jet wash system because even though cleanup promotes teamwork, we all know that it’s more fun to only wash one time.
- 1 pound mild Italian sausage
- 1 pound spaghetti
- 3 cups marinara sauce; my favorite is my super-simple crockpot version
- 4 cups water, divided
- Parmesan cheese for garnish, optional
Heat the oil over medium heat in a large pot. While the pot is heating, break the Italian sausage up into tablespoon-sized portions and roll into balls. Place the Italian sausage meatballs into the hot oil and brown on all sides, about 1-2 minutes per side. Add the marinara and water, stir to combine. Increase the heat to medium-high and add the spaghetti. Stirring frequently, boil the spaghetti in the sauce until al dente. Remove from the heat and allow to sit for 3-5 minutes, then serve hot with lots of Parmesan cheese if desired!
Weeknight dinners should be quick and easy for any busy family. GE Appliances can help streamline the kitchen process with their hands-free auto-fill refrigerator, their double oven range, to their 102 jet wash system dishwasher. To see these appliances in action check out GE: Kitchen Reimagined. For more tips on weeknight dinners head over to FoodNetwork Weeknight Kitchen page for recipes, tips, and much more!
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of GE Appliances. The opinions and text are all mine.