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Do you have family traditions around food? Is food something that generally connects your family, or is it something that causes stress and sometimes even tears–for mom and the kids?
For most of us, it’s probably both. We probably have some wonderful memories around the dinner table, either in our own homes growing up or in the homes we are creating, and we’ve also probably had some pretty negative experiences around family meals as well. Today’s guests are familiar with both extremes, and they have some practical ideas for bringing more joy back to family meals and food traditions.
Meghan Splawn and Stacie Billis are the co-founders of Didn’t I Just Feed You, a podcast and community committed to helping busy home cooks feed their families.
Meghan is a Tenessee-based recipe developer, culinary producer, mom of two, and baker at heart. She earned her culinary degree in Baking and Pastry Arts from the New England Culinary Institute, and she worked as a media food maven for over a decade as part of Alton Brown’s culinary crew.
Stacie is a Brooklyn-based cookbook author and food editor and a mom of two teenage boys. Her first cookbook Make It Easy: 120 Mix-and-Match Recipes to Cook From Scratch with Smart Store-Bought Shortcuts is a real-life manual of just-healthy-enough family eating for busy parents and their kids. Her second cookbook, Winner! Winner! Chicken Dinner: 50 Winning Ways to Cook It Up!, is a one-stop shop for mastering everyone’s favorite dinnertime protein.
These two rockstar cooks and moms are passionate about bringing simplicity and joy to family mealtimes and food traditions.
3 Takeaways to help you with Family Food Traditions:
- Jot down what connects you and your family to joy. Are there holidays that you and your family love, relatives whose visits whip up excitement, hobbies that bring everyone together, or meals that actually make everyone happy? It can be big or small, but identifying where the emotional resonance is can help you figure out where a tradition will successfully take root. If everyone loves ice cream, maybe you have a once-a-month ice cream sundaes for dinner night! If Grandma’s visits are a favorite, maybe there is a way that everyone in the family can pitch in to bake her favorite cookies for arrival. Start with where joy already exists for your family, and then build traditions from there.
- Start with what you’re already doing! You may already have traditions that you haven’t named. It’s okay if you haven’t done them on a predictable schedule, but if there’s a kitchen activity you’ve repeated or a meal that you tend to make every so often that’s always a hit, consider formalizing it into a tradition. What you do around holidays is an obvious place to start, but also consider the everyday cooking and eating you do.
- Keep it manageable. Food traditions don’t have to be work-intensive. Stacie and Meghan say that they understand — deeply! — the appeal of baking elaborate cakes or pulling kids into the kitchen for make-your-own pizza Fridays. But the more work intensive the tradition, the harder it can be to maintain. The point is to look forward to a reliable opportunity to spend time and fill your bellies together. That can mean cooking together, but only if that works for you. Order-in-pizza Fridays is just as fun and meaningful as make-your-own-pizza Fridays, and traditions that are manageable, don’t cause stress, and fit your strengths as a mom and a family are more likely be repeated.
>>>What food traditions does YOUR family have? Tell us in the comments below.
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