Saturday, November 29, 2014

On Dining In

We are pleased to present a guest post by Elizabeth Gallagher, Family and Consumer Science Teacher and ambassador for the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences, in support of something near and dear to our hearts - the family dinner! 

Some of the most detailed memories I have of my childhood are from the ordinary family meals we shared as I was growing up.  Mom, pouring milk out of her glass into mine when I requested more (much to my disgust).  Dad, seasoning raw chicken for the grill, and later pulling "magic peas" (peas with Velveeta cheese sauce) out of the microwave.  A recipe for Chinese Casserole that is as far from Asian as the Nebraska farm where my grandmother served it to her children.  Especially now that my mother has passed away, I want my daughters to remember these ordinary moments as an important part of their childhood.  Moments like these:

Although eating together may seem like an ordinary, everyday event, the life skills that our children learn through this simple act will influence them throughout their own adulthood. As a child, I couldn't comprehend the time and thoughtful preparation that my parents spent just feeding us healthy food (or any food, period!), but the principles that guided their choices about food and mealtime continue to influence me today. Even as an adult, I still choose milk during family dinner.  My husband and I incorporate fruits and vegetables into our meal plan.  Dinner is still a time when the TV is turned off (and now cell phones put aside), and the focus is on each family member and the conversations and laughter we share. Today, just as years ago, family meals continue to be about nourishing the family, saving money, and placing a value on skills children will need to use when they are off and preparing meals for their own families someday.

My name is Elizabeth Gallagher, and I am a local mom of two young girls, living thousands of miles from the home where those first family dinners occurred.  I am also a full time teacher at a large suburban school district north of Pittsburgh, teaching Family and Consumer Sciences to middle school and high school students.  If you are unfamiliar with Family and Consumer Sciences, it is the present day home economics, and it is alive and thriving in public schools throughout the Pittsburgh area (and the country).  FCS teachers like myself are at many local public middle schools and high schools, teaching students skills they will need for success in adult life; skills such as how to promote child development, how to manage personal finances, and how to plan and prepare nutritious meals for themselves and the people in their lives.  Skills that fit seamlessly into the family dinner.

Recently, my family enjoyed a breakfast for dinner meal.  Our menu included scrambled eggs with cheese, chicken apple breakfast sausage, a baked pancake, and fresh pineapple (which never actually made it to the table because we ate all of it during preparation!).  Although not quite 3 years old, my older daughter was able to help with the meal preparation as well - cracking and stirring eggs and mixing the pancake batter.  You can find the pancake recipe here:  It is such an easy way to make pancakes, and the sprinkles make it fun. 

December 3rd is the first annual national Family and Consumer Sciences Day, and to celebrate, the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences is asking families to commit to "Dining in" on that day.  As a mom, I know how important, and sometimes challenging, it is to "Dine in," but the conversations my young family has, the laughter, the sharing, and the time together (not to mention the cost savings and  healthier choices that often accompany home cooking) make it worth the extra effort.  You can read more at where you can register to win prizes for committing to dine in on December 3rd.

Families are at the heart of what Family and Consumer Sciences teachers are helping our students learn every day in our classrooms - classrooms all over the nation.  So gather up your friends and family, preheat the oven, and join our initiative by committing to dine in with us on December 3rd.

Photo credit: Lindsey Zern Photography
Recipe credit: Busy Mom's Recipe Box

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