The Family Table

Educating Families About the Benefits of Family Meals

Archive for the tag “eating out”

Breakfast for Dinner


Recipe of the Week

We are frequently a family-on-the-go.  Planning a family meal has gotten more challenging this semester.  I can certainly come up with a number of excuses as to why, but that misses the point.  As we have refocused our efforts to sit down at the table, sans phones and tablets, with a healthy plate of food in front of us, things have shifted a bit.

The girls are now in middle school, and as such, both are fairly competent chefs (well, sandwiches and mac-n-cheese). We have been fortunate to have a diverse palette and often they will eat most things put in front of them.  As they are getting older, we have been trying to teach them some additional tricks in the kitchen.  One essential – a fast meal comes from eggs.  And, they work for breakfast, lunch or dinner (brinner in our house!)

Are you looking for ways to cook with your little ones, but aren’t real sure?  Try this idea from Weelicious!

Just last week, we used up the dozen we try to keep on hand. Luckily, one of our friends, who is raising her own chickens gave us a fresh dozen! While I am not brave enough to take on a mean chicken (oh the stories I’ve been told!) I certainly did enjoy breakfast with those bright-colored yolks!


Frances Brooks

Director of Operations & Business Development and Mother of Two

Starting an Herb Garden


This Week’s Recipe

We may have just had a spring snow, but we have also had a few days now where spring has shown us that it is (hopefully) right around the corner. I love hearing the birds in the morning and seeing the sunshine! I am so ready for this winter to be over and to be doing activities outside! Do you feel the same?

I want to head out to a local nursery and buy plants and seeds and soil. This year I want to try something new; planting an herb garden. I love watching flowers bloom that we have planted and this year I also want to be able to taste what we are growing in our salads, sauces and soups! I am going to be following these simple guidelines:

  1. Picking your herbs- start with picking out your favorite seeds. Some basics include basil, chives, cilantro, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage and thyme.
  2. Location- you want a spot with good soil that will receive ample sun light, yet be shielded from wind.
  3. Care for your herbs- water regularly, place mulch around the base, fertilize monthly and prune as needed
  4. Harvest- and ENJOY!

Growing herbs is a great family activity, too. Kids can help throughout the entire process and they will love seeing what they have helped grow in their dinner.


Bethany Clapper, Director of Development & Marketing and Mother of Two

A Complaint Free Dinner Hour


This Week’s Recipe

How many of us parents have prepared meals only to be confronted by a child (or spouse) who doesn’t like, doesn’t want or isn’t in the mood for what we just fixed. What happens next is one of two unpleasant scenarios–1) fixing an alternate meal for the unhappy person, 2) standing your ground and facing a fit.

Having faced this situation time after time, I was determined to find a mutually agreeable solution for our family of four that didn’t include me working as a short order cook! It occurred to me that I usually planned dinner four nights a week. On Sundays, we had a tradition of making homemade pizza, which everyone enjoyed. One night every week or two, we ate out or ordered in. The meals I fixed on the other nights usually generated a night or two of leftovers, which, fortunately no one objected to on principle. Of course, if someone didn’t want it or like it on night one, they sure didn’t want it on night two!

Since there are four people in our family, I told my husband and children that I was going to ask them on Thursday when I make the grocery list, what meal they want the next week. The caveat was each one of us would have a choice, and each one of us would eat without complaints everyone else’s choice. There were two other conditions. I could round out the meal with side dishes if the meal was not well balanced. And although I would not make an alternate meal, I would keep yogurt on hand if someone truly didn’t like the protein we were having.

This had some immediate benefits that I had not anticipated. It made grocery shopping much easier and ultimately cheaper. It eliminated those nights when I was at a loss as to what to fix. If the kids had picked something like chicken nuggets or burgers, I was sure to add a healthy side dish. Then I would pick a meal like roast or tilapia. If someone picked a meal that was labor intensive, I’d be sure to pick a meal that week that I could make in 30 minutes or less. On leftover night, there was usually something available from each of our meals.

This resulted in a very manageable routine with very little whining. Everyone had a say in what we ate, and we saved time and money. If you’ve become a short order cook, or face a barrage of whining at mealtime, why not think about how you could give everyone a choice in exchange for a complaint free dinner hour?

Sally Edington
Friend of McMillen Center and Mother of Two

Tip of the Week: Healthier Kids Meals


This Week’s Featured Recipe

So, do you find yourself eating out a lot? Fries and burgers in the drive-thru? I have to admit that, yes, we’ve recently been guilty. It’s a habit we really need to break, but when you get on the go, it seems,well, easier.  This week, we should be honest and say, “Together, We Eat in the Car.”

It seems that it is a spring trend, as the kids get busier and we try to fit more in the daylight, we snuggle a meal in between our other errands. My goal for this week is to eat in as opposed to drive thru. And, the National Restaurant Association is trying to help us be healthier. They have started two programs that can make our meals out a whole lot better. The first ranks “whole grain items in kid’s meals” and this year, they started ranking restaurants for “healthful kids meals.”

The Kids LiveWell program has over 30,000 participating restaurant locations.  In order to qualify, a children’s meal must meet nutrition standards based on the US Dietary Guidelines.  The meal (entrée, side and beverage) must include two servings of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein or a low-fat dairy; meet limits for sodium, fats and sugar; and weigh in at 600 calories or less. Visit the Healthy Dining Finder site and Eating Away From Home page to find more restaurants with healthier kids’ options and whole grains on the menu.

Remember that the most important part of the meal is the time you spend together, around the table (not in the car, or in front of the tv!) And, if you see my family out and about, please be sure to say hi!

Frances Brooks Casual 2012

Frances Brooks, Director of Marketing and Operations, wife and mom of 2

Tip of the Week: Cinco De Mayo


This Week’s Featured Recipe

So once again I am wasting time on Pinterest, when I come across this delicious looking recipe for Oven Fajitas. I love fajitas, but frying them on the stovetop is just too messy.  Then it occurs to me, Cinco de Mayo is just around the corner, and the perfect reason to try my new Oven Fajita recipe!  I’ll serve them with whole wheat tortillas, Greek yogurt (a healthier choice than sour cream), lettuce, cheese, and lots of cilantro (my favorite).  I’ll probably make some brown rice with corn, black beans, and cumin mixed in as a side dish. See this week’s featured recipe to make your own Oven Fajitas.

If you are very crafty, Hannah, our Marketing Assistant, suggests getting the kids involved by making your own mini maracas. She thinks her 4-year-old would love this craft and it will help him to understand the holiday. But if you can’t handle the sound of mini maracas going non-stop in your house, you can make your own piñatas instead.

Did you know Cinco de Mayo is a much bigger holiday in America than it is in Mexico?  On May 5th, get the conversation started with your family by sharing these five fun facts about Cinco De Mayo at your family table.


Holli Seabury, CEO, wife and mom of 7

Tip of the Week: Together, We Eat

This Week’s Featured Recipe

Following last week’s festivities, it can be said, “Together, we eat.”

Yet, the family table project, in its second year strives to make it, “together, we eat better.” But how do we transfer from one to the other? It is no secret that we snack together over football and the holidays, or we sit down together for a meal several times a week – that’s great. But, it is just the beginning.

Several years ago, another couple, my husband and I went out for dinner to a popular Italian restaurant. As we were sharing our salad, and later splitting our dessert, we turned to one another and made a joke that, years later, still stands. I honestly do not eat at that restaurant, to this day, without thinking about that meal.

Yes, the food was good. But it was the sharing and the conversation that made that night. And this same sticking power is reinforced at your dinner table with the meals you have with family and friends. Conversation starts with shared interests, and time investments. Need some ideas? Try our list of conversation starters.

Share your most memorable meal with us on Facebook and entered to win a delivery and $100 gift card to Waiter on the Way.

Tip of the Week: Live Healthy Live Well

As you head out for the fall festival lineup that this part of the country is known for, here are a few tips from Live Healthy Live Well for making healthy choices:

Make sure you eat healthy in the days leading up to your trip, and eat a healthy breakfast before you go.

Wear comfortable walking shoes to encourage burning off any extra calories you and your family consume. The Fashion Police won’t be checking to make sure you have cute sandals on that look great, but kill your feet.

Pack a bag or small insulated cooler with water bottles, fresh fruit, cereal bars, pretzels, nuts, and fresh veggies in it. If you have a healthy snack, you won’t be so tempted to over-do at meal time. For example, freeze grapes or blueberries and pack them in an insulated bowl as an easy finger food to carry along.

Plan to refill your water bottle someplace at the festival – you will save lots of money and calories that way.

Scout out all of the food choices before you decide what to eat. Do this by walking around the area – you will burn more calories, and find out all of your choices.

Try your best to skip the fried foods. Do you really need to try the fried, batter covered cookie, buckeye, candy bar, or cheese?? If you have decided that you really need to try the new food – be sure to share or split the portion. Most funnel cakes will probably serve 4 to 6 people.

Look for a main dish or sandwich that is grilled or broiled. While you aren’t going to get a whole serving veggies by doing it, make sure you have the lettuce and tomato on your sandwich, it all adds up.

Skip the sundae or large milk shake this year and look for a fruit smoothie made with real fruit. But, be sure to get the small size without any whipped cream.

Most of all – have fun with your family! The sights at local festivals will make for great conversation starters in the weeks following. My kids are still talking about how they saw the cannon being shot at the Johnny Appleseed Festival!

Tip of the Week: Family Table Night

You’re invited you to join us at the Texas Roadhouse, 710 W Washington Center Rd, Fort Wayne, IN 46825, on May 24th!

On Thursday, my family will join other families at the Texas Roadhouse who are supporting the McMillen Center (hopefully, including you!). All diners with a printed invitation will have 10% of their bill donated to the Family Table project.  Come by and take a look at the conversation starters, pick up some recipe cards and learn more about the benefits of eating together. At the beginning of the year, I had decided to make choices that would encourage me to be more healthy.

For example, instead of using my riding lawn mower, I’ve been walking behind my push mower. I’ve tried (and am usually successful) in drinking more water instead of a caffeinated soda. At Texas Roadhouse, this commitment will be a bit of a challenge with all of their tempting menu items. (Need I mention the rolls? *eye roll*) But, in order to make it a little easier to avoid the high calorie pitfalls, like their Blossom onion, I checked out the Eat This, Not That for some great suggestions on how to not trash my commitment.

They suggest ordering a strip or sirloin steak instead of prime rib or rib eye. Elect for chicken or shrimp skewers, without sauce or butter. Or, choose a low-fat dressing and no egg or cheese on your salad. Other great suggestions can be found at Tips for Healthy Ordering at Texas Roadhouse. Come by, visit and help support the Family Table project. Thursday, May 24 – bring the ones you love to dinner at the Texas Roadhouse and 10% of your bill is donated to the McMillen Center. Click here for the invitation, which you’ll need to bring. And, feel free to invite friends and family, or to forward this email. We hope to see you there!

– Frances, Mktg & Comm, wife and mom of 2

Looking for tips on what to feed your kids?
Check out our Active Healthy Families video series for tips on Eating Out.

Tip of the Week: Distracted Eating

Our family meals are most often on evenings and weekends, with the occasional breakfast thrown in for fun. The other night we decided, as my husband (with the kids in tow) was on his way to a meeting, and I was on my way home with laundry on my ‘to do list,’ that we would meet at a local deli and trade the girls – a meet in the middle, shall we say? This would give us a chance to connect on what might have otherwise been a ‘see-ya-later’ kind of night.

We’ve ordered, our server has brought us drinks and we’re sitting there chatting about our day. Well, most of us, anyway. I try to catch my older daughter’s eye, but she’s got that ‘what’s-going-on-behind-Mom’ look. I address her by name, she glances my way and then shifts back to beyond me. So, I turned around to see what is so engaging. A TV. My competition. Huh.

This I would expect in a wings place, or even fast food restaurant; but in a deli? To say the least, I was surprised. The Family Table research discusses eliminating distractions during meals. It is no real surprise that in 2012, with 56% of homes having three or more TVs, that a television is near the top of the list of ‘distractions’. But in a deli?

Now, to be fair, it wasn’t loud, nor was it tuned to a cartoon, but the news. I was just really surprised. Reports show that in addition to the distraction, we consume more calories when dining in front of the TV. So, the next time we eat out, I’m going to look around a bit and choose a table that puts the competition more in my favor!

– Frances, Mktg & Comm, wife and mom of 2

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