2009-12-03 / Features

Comfort Food Season Has Arrived

Battle the winter blues with family meals that matter

When temperatures drop and the days grow shorter, you know that comfort food season has arrived. And nothing is more heartwarming than bringing family and friends together for a traditional winter meal, evoking feelings of warmth and nostalgia.

Look no further than your cupboard for simple meal solutions to create hearty and budget friendly meals for your family any day of the week. On one of those chilly winter days, nothing hits the spot more than the taste of a savory casserole or a piping hot bowl of soup.

This season, chances are your fridge will be stocked with food and your home filled with family and friends. Instead of tossing them away, give your leftovers a makeover – your family will never know chicken they had for dinner yesterday is on the menu tonight.

Add ready-made broth or stock to leftovers: Poultry that has been left in the fridge can sometimes become dry and bland. Enhance your dishes with rich flavors by adding a readymade broth or stock to add moisture that may have been lost. For example, chicken broth adds a delicious farm-fresh flavor of vegetables like onions and carrots, and a perfect blend of garlic and other spices like thyme, coriander and rosemary to your meals. Incorporate your leftovers into delicious, creative dishes such as Chicken Tortilla Soup, Santa Fe Chipotle Beef Stew or Southwest Chicken Chili. These recipes and more can be found online at www.collegeinn.com/recipes.aspx

Freeze it. Prolong the shelf life of your leftovers by freezing them. Most meals that have been frozen will last for a few months. Plus, it’s already prepared and ready to eat – just thaw and reheat. Freezing meals saves you time and money, and is always a great solution to feed your kids healthy meals when you can’t make it home in time for dinner.

Busy families don’t always have the time to stop and think about what’s for dinner, and are often eating on-the-go. However, the importance of bringing everyone to the dinner table to laugh, listen and share stories has a significant impact on families and their kids.

According to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASA), kids who eat dinner with their family regularly tend to:

Eat healthier foods, and less junk.

Get better grades.

Engage in fewer risky behaviors, including taking drugs, drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes.

Develop stronger connections with their parents.

Be less depressed.

Schedule regular meal times: Regular meal times provide stability to families with hectic schedules; stay consistent and schedule meal time at the same time every day.

Create family theme nights: Create a family fun jar. Write all your ideas for themes for family night on strips of paper and put them in a large mason jar.

Keep dinner time light and fun: Avoid any conversations bound to cause an argument as well as questions that can be answered, “Yes” or “No.” For example: “Did you learn anything at school today?” “Did you go to soccer practice?” Instead focus on open ended statements and questions such as “Teach us something you learned today that you don't think we know,” or “What would you like to invent?”

Unplug: By unplugging your family from the digital world, you are opening up the lines of healthy communication again. Eating dinner together is the best way to reconnect with the family and show your kids that they are your No. 1 priority.

Involve your kids in meal planning and cooking: Spend time with your kids on the weekend planning and preparing next week’s meals. This makes them feel involved and an important member of the family. Along with the joy of spending quality time with your kids, you are also teaching them valuable life skills through cooking such as math, vocabulary and reading, learning how to make healthy choices, as well as how to listen and follow directions. For more helpful family meal ideas and recipes this season, visit www.collegeinn.com.

Return to top