Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Legacy of Meal Planning, continued

The kitchen is the heart of the home, and the mother is queen of the kitchen. ~Owen Meredith

Meal planning lends us time to work on the families’ table manners. Each person, no matter how young or old, should show gratitude for the meal that is placed before him. We should never verbally complain about the food offered at home or elsewhere. Remind children of the work involved in making the meal. Parents set the tone for grateful living. New manners lessons can be introduced one meal at a time over the weeks and months. Manners to work on can include passing the dishes counterclockwise, asking the host/hostess if you may be excused, learning to set a table correctly, and learning to introduce people to one another. Also, when children learn to prepare dishes, there are kitchen manners as well such as the rule that messes must be cleaned up before the dish is eaten.

Take a few minutes to make this table-setting place mat I found in Family Fun magazine quite a while back.  Fashioned from shapes of colored paper that show the proper locations for the plate and silverware, this mat effortlessly teaches the fine art of setting the table.  Kids will feel good about being able to help out, and they'll get practice in following a diagram.  Colored drawing paper can be tacked together with glue, then laminated on both sides with Con-Tact paper.

Mealtime should not be a battle of wills. Don’t let anyone snack between meals. If children don’t finish the meal, they do not need a snack or dessert. Children who are picky eaters have had their preferences catered to too often.

Finally, on those rare occasions of eating out with kids, keep them busy at the restaurant. Give them a snack before leaving home and go prepared with milk and cheerios. Save a small bag of “quiet toys” that are only for eating out (include crayons and paper) and dine early to avoid the rush.

It is important to always remember that even though we want to be efficient meal planners, the kitchen can be the most therapeutic room in the home. “We go to great effort to save time in the kitchen, but there’s a sort of time in the kitchen that cannot be sacrificed or replaced. It’s a strategic baking cookies or stirring the pot and listening time” (Table Talk, p. 123. Mimi Wilson & Mary Beth Lagerborg).  

Ruth B. Wright expressed it this way, "The best conversations happen around our kitchen table.  Many times we have laughed, cried, shared feelings, hopes and dreams; sorted out differences; solved the problems of the world; recognized our strengths and weaknesses into the wee hours of the morning."  

There is a special bond among those who break bread together--a custom established by the Savior, Jesus Christ. It is a precious legacy we can leave our families and is worthy of our time and attention.
To be a good cook you have to have a love of the good, a love of hard work, and a love of creating.  Some people like to paint pictures, or do gardening, or build a boat in the basement.  Other people get a tremendous pleasure out of the kitchen, because cooking is just as creative and imaginative an activity as drawing or wood carving, or music.  And cooking draws upon your every talent--science, mathematics, energy, history, experience--and the more experience you have the less likely are your experiments to end in drivel and disaster.  The more you know, the more you can create.  There's no end to imagination in the kitchen.  ~Julia Child

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