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...for Serving Variety with your Meals

Familiar is nice, variety is spice.  Both can make for better mealtimes.   Try these variations:

  1. If you normally eat with the TV off,  have a "dinner and a movie date" every once in a while.  Serve dinner on trays on the floor (if you have rugs, cover with plastic and an old sheet), or on the coffee table for adults, while you watch a movie together on the TV.  

  2. Want a romantic tryst in front of the fireplace?  Turn some music on low.   Serve dinner, drinks and a decadent dessert on a soft blanket and pillows by firelight.  Feed each other.

  3. Are the kids playing in the snow?  Take them mugs of hot soup,  cocoa and grilled cheese sandwiches for a winter picnic outside.  Join them; you probably have cabin fever anyway.

  4. Nice weather outside?  Surprise everyone with a backyard picnic under a tree.   Or serve a meal unexpectedly on the patio.  As that now infamous Washington radio newscaster announced, I believe in the 1940's, "It's spring, and the chirds are burping."  Try breakfast outside while enjoying that early morning birdsong.

  5. Buy lap trays and surprise a deserving family member with a favorite breakfast in bed once in a while, or at least coffee or tea with toast or a bagel and the morning paper.   (Remember to include a flower.)

  6. Picky kids?  Serve healthy snacks in the playroom or family room; include items they might fuss about at the table.  Let them munch and pick away for an hour or two instead of serving a meal.  Teenagers won't sit down to eat breakfast?  No problema!    Surprise them with healthy, easy to handle food while they dress and fuss with their appearance, or a wrapped snack as they zoom out the door.

  7. Sports fans?  Don't try to drag them away in the middle of the game.  Serve dinner buffet style; let them carry their food back to the TV.  Adjust the sloppiness of the food to the sloppiness of the eaters.  You don't want tomato sauce or cheese fondue on the ceiling in case of a touchdown, knockout or home run.

  8. If you always beat yourself to death preparing a holiday dinner, make reservations at a restaurant once in a while for a fiesta feast, or order food brought in; that's what caterers are for.  Enjoy the company for a change. 

  9. For kids perhaps five years through teenager, let them select one vegetable from the produce department (not frozen) on each shopping trip and let them (or help them) prepare it.  Encourage them to browse your cookbooks or the internet for ideas.  Good experience, plus it encourages them to try new things. 

  10. Once every week or three, on a day when everyone is less rushed,  haul out the best china.  Prepare several courses in advance that won't take a lot of last minute fussing.  Arrange flowers for the center piece and light the candles.  Get everyone to bathe and dress up for a special formal dinner.  It's valuable practice for children on how to eat out.  Who deserves more to enjoy your best table settings than you.

Be free; be inventive; listen to your inner child.  In other words, get out of the rut and into the swing!  Variety is the spice of life-- and of dinner.  Enjoy!
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