Meal times can be the source of SO much stress, in fact despite 88% of British parents agreeing that dinner time is the perfect opportunity for quality time, new research by Dolmio® reveals that dramas are taking over domestic life AND the dinner table. The survey found:
- British parents waste 1 day (27 hours) a year cooking food that their kids refuse to eat; throwing away 42 full plates a year
- We spend a further six full days a year solving domestic dramas, of which HALF (51 per cent) are dinner related
- We call our families (partners and children) to the table a whopping 1,500+ times a year
- One out of five parents would give up £200+ for a stress free week of family life
The Feeding Boys Flash Points
This research has definitely struck a chord with me, so I thought I’d share the regular dramas that play out at meal times in our house:
- Prising the kids away from their screens and through to the kitchen table – selective hearing and me having to shout louder and LOUDER.
- Getting them to actually sit down on their bums, and stay sitting down. It’s like they’re poised for a quick escape and can’t possibly stay in the same place for longer than a few minutes.
- The frequent eruptions of petty squabbles between the two boys – usually the classic line “Will you stop looking at me?! He’s LOOKING AT ME mum, look!”
- The absolute classic departure from even the most basic of table manners – “Please can you use your cutlery, you don’t eat pasta with your hands!”
- Complaints about what I’ve cooked for dinner – including that old chestnut that one of them has suddenly gone off something like Pizza or Fishfingers totally out of the blue! Gah!
By the time I’ve finished cooking and sat down myself, the boys have often wolfed theirs down and left the table! So much for a calm chat about the day’s events…
Top Tips for preventing Dinner Time Dramas
So what helps us? I thought I’d share some of the techniques we use to combat these dramas:
The marble reward system
We operate this system on and off, but we basically reward them for good behaviour at the table/being helpful/doing chores with marbles. They have a jar for their marbles which they can then cash in once full. Each marble equates to 20p. It works a treat, especially if they’re saving up for something. We do this instead of pocket money.
Getting the boys involved with cooking the meal
If they’re away from their screens and in the kitchen, it’s not such a stretch to get them to sit down at the table once the meal is ready. They’re also far more likely to eat it if they’re made it themselves.
I write a 7 day meal plan every week and put it up on a blackboard on the kitchen wall for all to see. This means it’s not a surprise as to what’s for dinner, and also causes a bit of anticipation if there’s one of their favourite meals on there like Spaghetti Bolognese or Pizza.
Another way of achieving that all-elusive harmony around the dinner table is to serve something mega tasty up for the family, that doesn’t take you a gazillion hours to put together so you’re nice and calm too.
Have you seen the new Dolmio No Drama Ad with Dominic West, it’s pretty funny and shows how the power of a good meal can cut down on the dramatics…
Easy Tray Bake Supper
To prove that dinner doesn’t have to mean drama, Dolmio® have sent me some of their new products to try out, and so I gave the Chicken Tray Bake with Italian Herbs & Garlic a whirl. It comes in a pouch and you simply assemble chopped onion and peppers in the bottom of a roasting dish with a handful of cherry tomatoes, sling four chicken breasts on top and then coat it all with the sauce. 30 minutes in the oven and dinner’s served, with whatever sides you fancy. Definitely no drama involved in making it! Tick!
We made it a vegetarian affair by using Quorn fillets and served it up with my healthy quick sage roasted potatoes and a baby leaf salad drizzled with balsamic vinegar. I gave the tray bake a pizza vibe by scattering a little grated mozzarella over the top just before it had finished cooking – the boys really loved it! “It’s actually quite nice” declared Sam, having been a little suspicious that we were having something different for dinner.
I was impressed with the bold flavours from the sauce and would definitely use it again for a quick and tasty weeknight meal. I reckon it’d be lush with juicy chicken thighs and served up with roasted sweet potato wedges. As well as the Italian Herb & Garlic flavour, the range also includes Lemon & Roasted Garlic, Sundried Tomato & Basil and Mushroom, Garlic & White Wine. They’re £1.49 per 150g pack.
Dolmio® has also created a new 2-person pasta sauce with no added sugar – made with a simple blend of naturally-sweetened sun-ripened tomatoes, herbs and spices and with no artificial colours, flavours, preservatives or sweeteners. A great way to cut down on eating artificial nasties, plus each serving provides one of your 5-a-day.
Slimming World Friendly?
The Chicken Tray Bake sauce with Italian Herb & Garlic is 4 Syns per portion according to the Syns calculator. I added a small sprinkling of grated mozzarella so that would add another Syn per portion taking it up to 5. I used Quorn fillets instead of chicken breasts which are also Syn Free. You’ve got your speed foods covered in this meal with the pepper, onion and baby salad leaves which I dressed with balsamic vinegar. I made the roasted sage and salt potatoes using fry light. A hearty and perfectly Slimming World friendly meal – so no diet dramas either!
Tell me about your dinner time dramas!
What winds you up at meal times? I’d love to hear your stories and how you try and tackle the dramas! Let me know in the comments below.
Win win win!
I’m giving away a hamper of three of the new range from Dolmio® – the prize includes:
1 x hamper
1 x pouch Dolmio® Chicken Tray Bake
1 x jar Dolmio® No Added Sugar Pasta Sauce
1 x jar Dolmio® Original Bolognese Sauce
Partnered Post: I’ve been commissioned to create this blog post by Dolmio® to promote both their new products and No Drama campaign. All views are my own and I am endorsing these products as they’re genuinely something I keep in my cupboards