UACES Facebook Commit To "Dining In" In December
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Commit To "Dining In" In December

Family meals can be difficult, especially during the holidays. Here are some tips to help you "dine in" in December.

Nashville, Ark. – With holiday parties, band concerts, parades, and all the activities associated with this time of the year, it seems almost impossible to sit down together as a family and enjoy a meal together. Family Consumer Sciences across the nation are inviting families to join the movement and commit to “Dining In” at least one night the first week of December.

            Families can participate in “Dining In Day” by planning a simple, healthy meal to cook and eat at home. Your meal doesn’t need to be anything fancy – just a wholesome meal prepared at home. Something the whole family will enjoy sharing together. Soup, tacos, a simple casserole, or a meat with two side vegetables is easy to prepare and serve.

            Research suggests that both parents and children benefit from sharing a meal together. It may be dinner or breakfast. It doesn’t really matter as long as all family members are able to participate. A shared meal, without distractions, allows the family time to bond. They can share stories, talk about their day and listen to each other. It is also a great opportunity for parents to be a good role model for their children.

            Both younger and older children who share family meals three or more times per week are more likely to be in a normal weight range and have healthier eating habits than those who share fewer than three family meals per week according to research.

            Planning, shopping and eating together as a family fosters better nutrition, improved family communication, and teaches life skills such as meal planning, budgeting, and food preparation. It allows time for the family to be together and lets each other know how important they are.

            Here are some tips for making dining in easy and enjoyable:

  • Make family meals a priority and agree on a schedule. It may mean having breakfast together instead of dinner, depending upon work schedules.
  • Try to have regular family meals two to three times a week. It is a goal to work toward.
  • Keep meals simple. Slow cookers or the instapot are great time savers.
  • Double recipes and freeze one for a second meal later in the month.
  • Set aside 30 minutes on the weekend for meal planning.
  • Make it fun! Include children in food preparation. They can wash vegetables, set the table, clear their plate from the table, and tear lettuce. Encourage their participation.
  • Discuss neutral and positive topics at the dinner table. You may have heard never to discuss politics or religion at the dinner table. Good advice!
  • Turn off the TV and ban cell phones from the dinner table.
  • Eat slowly, and enjoy time together as a family.

You might share your favorite family meal recipes to a “Dining In” Pinterest board. The important thing is to have fun and strengthen your family bonds.

For more information on meal planning, budgeting, and food preparation and safety, contact the Howard County Extension Office at 870-845-7517 or visit our office located on the second floor of the courthouse.

Recipe of the Week

Need a recipe for “Dining In” day? Here is one that your family will enjoy. It only costs $0.97 per serving, is low in calories, but high in nutrition. It is easy to prepare and tastes great! Add a green salad, corn or other vegetable for a complete meal.

Tamale Pie

1 medium onion, chopped

1 medium bell pepper, chopped

½ pound lean ground beef

½ cup salsa

1 package (8.5 ounces) corn muffin mix

1/3 cup light sour cream or plain Greek yogurt

1 can (4.25 ounces) diced green chilies

1 egg

½ cup shredded cheddar cheese

            Preheat oven to 350°F. Heat a skillet over medium heat. Spray with nonstick cooking spray. Cook onion, bell pepper, and ground beef until beef is cooked through, about 6 minutes. Stir in salsa. Stir in cheese.

            Spray an 8-inch pie plate with nonstick cooking spray. Spread the meat and vegetable mixture on the bottom of the plate.

            Mix corn muffin mix, sour cream, green chilies, and egg until combines. Spread on top of the meat and vegetable mixture.

            Bake until corn muffin topping is golden brown and set, about 30 minutes.

Yield: 6 servings (Serving size 1 slice)

Nutrition Information per Serving: 270 calories, 9g fat, 600 mg sodium, 33g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 14g protein

By Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
421 N. Main St, Nashville AR 71852
(870) 845-7517


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