Timing is everything…

I looked at the clock tonight when we sat down to eat and it was 5:25. I don’t purposely do it, but we eat around 5:30 almost every night. Early, I know.

I am lucky to have a job that allows me to be home relatively early most nights, but when I am not home by then, I leave food for the babysitter. I hate to give up dinner with my kids, especially when I am home by a decent hour, but their waiting just leads to disaster. I know this means most kids won’t eat dinner with (at least) one of their parents often. But I have found that timing is really important in having a successful dinner with kids.

Most kids under 6 (I don’t know anything about kids over 6 since I haven’t had any get that old yet!) are tired by 6 or 6:30. Even if they don’t go to bed until much later, they are all set with behaving, focusing, trying, and listening. So if you try to make them sit down at a table full of things they aren’t sure about, and focus on dinner, they fall apart.

It also doesn’t help that when the kids eat later, they tend to snack more in the afternoon, leaving them with no appetite for dinner. When my kids were toddlers they would eat around 4:30 some days. Despite my years of 9pm dinners while working at a law firm, I don’t mind eating early myself, but if you can’t do it, just put a small serving in front of you and eat the real meal later. So, try giving the kids dinner early. As they get older you can push it later (we’re up to 5:30-6), so eventually you can all eat together.

Tonight was appetizer night. It is great way to (re)introduce foods that may not be favorites, because everything is small, there is lots of variety, so nothing is intimidating. Tonight we had bruschetta with tomatoes and red onion:

spinach and artichoke dip with whole wheat baguette:

a few leftover dumplings from takeout chinese this weekend:

and proscuitto wrapped around melon.

This was a lot of food, and the only thing I had to actually cook was the dip. It comes from my mom’s recipe, and I make it so much I no longer follow the recipe, but just wing it.
1. Defrost frozen chopped spinach; drain well using a towel.
2. Throw spinach in bowl with can of artichoke hearts (I chop them first).
3. Mix in equal parts sour cream (I use fat free or low fat) and mayo (I use low fat). I am sure there are proper amounts, but I don’t remember them. Maybe a cup each?
4. Mix in good grated or shredded parmesan cheese.
5. Pour mixture into a dish coated in cooking spray. Bake at 400 for 20-25 minutes. If you want, top with more parmesan for a browner crust on top.

I hope some of you try appetizer night. It is great fun!

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