Regardless of your family circumstances, chances are you’re often throwing together dinner with few plans and little time. The result can be less than impressive. Here are some easy, inexpensive tips that can turn your leftover meatloaf with mashed potatoes into a memorable family dining experience.
It has often been said that we eat with our eyes first. Adding a colorful garnish to a dish can instantly change the diner’s impression. Consider the difference between a jar of applesauce set on the table with a spoon, and that same applesauce served in an attractive bowl with a sprig of mint for garnish. There’s no need to buy food especially for garnishes, either. Just work with what you have. Orange zest, red cabbage or even carrot shavings all make great garnishes.
Nothing says ho-hum like paper napkins at the dinner table. Do your family and the environment a favor and use cloth napkins instead. They don’t have to be fancy or expensive; they can even be made from old dress shirts or bed sheets.
Toppings or Crumbles
One of the best ways to fancy-up a dish is by sprinkling on some sort of topping. A little shredded cheddar cheese on top of mashed potatoes or bacon bits on green beans can take a side dish to a whole new level. If you’re serving a cheap cut of meat that may have a tendency to be lacking in flavor, simply top it with sautéed onions or mushrooms.
You don’t have to get out your grandmother’s china to set a beautiful table. Simply practice what you learned in home economics class and set your family table with flair. Rather than just tossing the flatware onto the middle of each plate, place it properly at the sides. Add a simple centerpiece or candle and you will have transformed an ordinary meal into something very special.
Jazz up the Water
Adding a slice of citrus or sprig of mint to a glass of water is a way to go from zero to 60 in two seconds flat. What a difference it makes! It may even be all it takes to get your kids to drink more water.
Serve in Courses
Rather than putting everything on the table at once to enjoy family style, consider serving your dinner in courses like you would get in a restaurant. Serve the salad or starter first, and then the main course. Follow up with fruit or dessert and coffee.
None of these ideas is expensive, and each takes very little extra time. A little thoughtfulness here and there can make dinnertime more special for everyone. Why not give it a try?