Children #18 The Magic of A Family Meal

Thanks a Munch!

Statistics are clear: Kids who dine with the folks are healthier, happier and better students, which is why a dying tradition is coming back.  Finally!

The magic of a family meal can be pretty amazing.  The most probing study of family eating patterns was published by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University and reflects nearly a decade’s worth of data gathering. The researchers found essentially that family dinner gets better with practice; the less often a family eats together, the worse the experience is likely to be, the less healthy the food and the more meager the talk. Seems simple to understand right?  Then why don’t we do it more?  Growing up, I always had family dinner (thanks Mom), my dad worked so he wasn’t always there on time, but the rest of us were together.  When did this get so hard for our society to do?  It may not be pretty, but I think we can work on it…

It is OK that you take your dinner to retreat to the dining room to eat alone sometimes (or maybe that is just me?), but among those who eat together three or fewer times a week, 45% say the TV is on during meals (as opposed to 37% of all households), and nearly one-third say there isn’t much conversation. Such kids are also more than twice as likely as those who have frequent family meals to say there is a great deal of tension among family members, and they are much less likely to think their parents are proud of them.  Can you imagine that?  My child going to bed with the thought of me not being proud of him/her…breaks my heart…are we really that busy?

Whether you are cooking up a storm at home to create this environment or popping in a quick meal, congrats for making the effort! Making ends meet while having a family can be a challenge. With the current state of our economy, we find ourselves having to pinch a lot harder. Do what you can to create a family meal.  But, if you are needing some help (myself included)…luckily, more and more restaurants are now offering Kid’s Nights with reduced or free meals for the kids. The tip is to learn about them, eat the right foods and then in return…support them when you can!

I love how partnerships are formed with the community to support those places that support our families.  This large thank you note was from a local school singing the praises of their favorite hot dog joint.  It was proudly displayed inside the restaurant- loved it!

Bonus (think of it as dessert): This is a must for all who live by a Simon Mall.   For a $5 investment per child, your kids can become Kidgets.  The Simon Kidgits Club® offers fun activities, savings and freebies for members throughout the year.  Each month, specials are offered at a variety of the shops the mall manages.  We love the free kids meal programs.  Be sure not to miss these deals- everything from California Pizza Kitchen, Rubys Diner and Farrell’s Ice Cream!

Here are a few others that support family meals together, generally offering children to Eat for Free with a purchase of an adult entree.

Jerry’s Dogs
Mondays and Tuesdays: With purchase of any adult combo meal, kids (10 and under) get free kids’ combo. All day. www. jerrysdogs.com

Norm’s Restaurants
Mondays and Tuesdays: With purchase of any adult entree, kids (10 and under) get free kids’ meal. 2-10 p.m. www.normsrestaurants.com.

Alcapulco Restaurants
Tuesdays: With purchase of any adult entree, kids (12 and under) get free kids’ meal. All day. All locations. www.acapulcorestaurants.com

Chick-fil-A 
Tuesdays: With purchase of any Chick-fil-A combo meal, kids (10 and under) receive a Kids Meal free. Free entertainment including face painting, balloons and ice cream!

Denny’s Restaurants                                              Tuesdays and some Saturdays: With purchase of any adult entree, kids (10 and under) get free kids’ meal. After 4 p.m. www.dennys.com

Ruby’s 
Tuesdays: With purchase of any adult entree, kids (10 and under) get free kids’ meal. After 4 p.m. www.rubys.com

Coco’s Restaurants 
Tuesdays and Wednesdays: With purchase of any adult entree, kids (10 and under) get free kids’ meal. After 4 p.m. All Coco’s locations. www.cocosbakery.com

Islands Restaurants-Honorable Mention!
Tuesdays: With purchase of any  1 adult entree, 2 kids (12 and under) get free kids’ meal. 4-10 p.m. Honrable mention at Islands for peeps like us with 4 kids.  We basically pay for two adult meals and feed a family of 6.  This place gets packed, so arrive early!  www.islandsrestaurants.com

Norm’s Restaurants
Mondays and Tuesdays: With purchase of any adult entree, kids (10 and under) get free kids’ meal. 2-10 p.m. www.normsrestaurants.com

Marie Callender’s Restaurant                         Saturdays and Tuesdays: With purchase of any adult entree, kids (12 and under) get free kids’ meal. All day. All locations. www.mariecallenders.com

Lucille’s BBQ Restaurant
Tuesdays: With purchase of any adult entree, kids (12 and under) get free kids’ meal. All day. All locations. www.lucillesbbq.com

El Torito Restaurants
Wednesdays: With purchase of any adult entree, kids (12 and under) get free kids’ meal. All locations, all day. www.eltorito.com

Carrow’s Restaurants
Thursdays: With purchase of any adult entree, kids (10 and under) get free kids’ meal. After 4 p.m. All Carrow’s locations. www.carrows.com

Taco Mesa
Sundays: With purchase of any adult entree, kids get free kids’ meal. All Day. www.tacomesa.com

The Derby                                                                    

Mondays: Love dueling pianos? Try coming here and kids eat free from 4-8pm. Purchase an adult meal and get one kid’s meal free. www.derbymv.com

Casa Ranchero                                                            

Wednesdays: Ninos eat free. With purchase of any adult entree, kids get free kids’ meal. All Day. www.casaranchero.com

IHOP                                                                                       Fri-Sun: With purchase of any adult entree, kids get free kids’ meal. All Day. www.ihop.com

Be on the Lookout!  There was such a demand for this subject from my readers, that I am in the works of creating a section on my blog that you can reference when you and your crew are ready for a night out OR you are looking for some ideas for dinner at home. I encourage all of you to e-mail me your simple recipes or quick tips to help make this magic happen for all of us.

 

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