Now that we're all spending plenty of time together as a family, it's sometimes hard to get excited and interested in making dinner special. How do you make dinner interesting for your kids without resorting to just cutting weird shapes in a PBJ and to dinosaur-shaped noodles yet again. Themed dinner parties can get your kids excited about mealtimes again. If your kids are old enough, you can even let them help you in certain instances, like setting the table, cutting vegetables, or even preparing a side dish or main course. But the important focus of the dinner is the theme. Things you can do, eat, and talk about with your family. If you're homeschooling your kids, you can turn your dinner into a lesson on geography, language, history, or even simple social etiquette. So we picked five themed dinners you can have for your kids to make dinner more fun for everyone. We also wanted to go beyond just buying themed plates and napkins that you usually get for a child's birthday party, so we picked themes that could also teach and entertain your kids at the same time.
Some families have begun the practice of Formal Dinner Fridays during the shutdown. They dress up in their fanciest duds and sit down to a very special dinner. Everyone has to get cleaned up and dressed in their Sunday best, and then sit down to a formally-set table and use their best manners. Dinner can be as fancy or as simple as you'd like, but the important thing is you all dressed up and made an effort.
This is also a good time to teach young kids about proper table manners and place settings, how to eat in public, and how to eat without spilling on themselves. (You may want to give the youngest children an old shirt to put on over their fancy outfits first.)
Baseball Dinner (or other sports)
There's nothing better than a hot dog at a baseball park, or if you live in Cincinnati Reds county, a bratwurst or mettwurst at Great American Ballpark. Also, hot dogs and brats are just downright comforting and easy to cook. We like Nathan's, Vienna Beef, and Hebrew National for the best hot dog quality (and no fillers), and you can get brats and (sometimes) mets at your local grocery store meat counter.
Add to that some relish, diced onion, mustard, ketchup, and chili. Or go all out and introduce your kids to the Chicago dog (no ketchup, please!). Don't forget the chips and peanuts. Then enjoy a few dogs and watch the game.
Bonus: Right now, you can download the MLB.TV app and watch any game from the 2018 or 2019 season for free. Just pick a favorite team, click on the TV icon in the upper corner, and then tap the date in the dropdown menu. A calendar will pop up and you can flip back to a particular date and select the full replay of that game. Watch it on your tablet or laptop, or beam it to your TV.
This one is less about what you eat and more about what you do. Get the Kindle edition of The Book of Questions, find an article with a few interesting questions, or come up with a list of your own, and then have a question-and-answer period with your kids. Set the rule that they have to explain their answer; no one-word answers allowed.
Ask deeper questions like "Would you give up half of everything you own in order to be able to get all the sleep you need in one hour per night?" or "If you had to move anywhere but here, where would you go?" For little kids, ask them imagination-stirring questions like "If you could live with one Disney character in their house, who would it be?" Then, just let the discussions go and see where the night takes you.
Around the World
This is a good chance for you to expand your cooking skills. Pick a country and do some research into what the traditional and modern dishes are. Or you could even stay closer to home and pick a state's signature dishes. For example, here in Indiana, the breaded pork tenderloin is our official state sandwich and the sugar cream pie is our official state pie. (No, seriously! The Indiana Legislature voted on it and everything!)
There's always Italian, Mexican, and Chinese food (you could also do that for carry-out), but you could expand your search a little bit and try empanadas from Central and South American (called empadas in Brazil), Jamaican patties, West African Joll of Rice, , or Moroccan chicken with saffron. And if you're vegetarian or vegan, look to India and the Far East for vegetarian dishes.
As an added bonus, you can always find popular TV shows or sporting matches from those countries. Watch a German football match while you eat bratwurst and spaetzle, watch an Italian soap opera with lasagna or pasta Bolognese, or watch Turma da Mônica, a children's cartoon show, while you eat Moqueca de Camarão (Brazilian shrimp stew).
Restaurants are fighting to stay afloat right now, and you can help. Tuesdays are #TheGreatAmericanTakeout, a movement that's raising money for restaurant workers and their families. You can also follow them on Twitter at @TheGATakeout.
Since many restaurants are still offering delivery and carry-out, pick a favorite local restaurant and order a meal for the family. Pick it up or have it delivered (be sure to tip the driver!), and then sit down to a delicious meal at home while supporting your local economy.
This is also a good time to explain to your kids why and how restaurants are being affected by the COVID-19 shutdown, and how this is helping them provide work for its staff.
If you're looking for kitchen appliances, cookware and bakeware, and even outdoor cooking appliances, Parker Gwen can help. And if you need help with a kitchen redesign, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website for more information.