Skip to main content

Oregon Family Magazine

Make Mealtime Meaningful

03/14/2011 ● By Anonymous
Could lasagna help you improve your relationships? It just might, if it helps get people to the dinner table. Dinner is a great time for family, friends and couples to catch up with each other, face to face. But when hectic schedules fill up the calendar, it can be hard to find the time to sit down together. Fortunately, with a little planning, some time-saving products and cooperation, even the busiest people can find the time to reconnect over a good, wholesome meal.

Making a weekly meal plan and keeping your pantry and freezer stocked up can save a lot of time and keep you from wondering the age-old question: “What’s for dinner?” So take advantage of time-savers such as Stouffer’s new line of Farmers’ Harvest single-serve and multi-serve entrées. With high-quality ingredients such as sea salt, olive oil and real cheese, and a variety of whole grains and vegetables, you can have good, wholesome food that tastes great.

With the main dish taken care of, try some of these quick side dishes to round out the meal. And with all of that time saved, enjoy spending a little extra with those you love. Find more quick and easy meal ideas at

3 ways to help make dinnertime more meaningful

Even the busiest of people can enjoy quality time at the dinner table. Try some of these tips to help you make more meaningful connections during mealtime:

  1. Involve everyone in dinner preparation. Ask each person to be responsible for some aspect of dinner, whether it’s tossing the salad, setting the table or pouring milk. These jobs, when age appropriate, teach valuable skills, help everyone feel like an important member of a group, and foster self-esteem and independence. Download a handy Dinner Job Wheel at
  2. Ask specific questions rather than the usual, generic questions like “How was your day?” Specific, detailed questions show you are both aware of and interested in what’s important in your family and friends’ lives. Download colorful Conversation Starter Placemats for kids at to help get them excited.
  3. During mealtime, get — and stay — unplugged. Turn off the TV, and only answer emergency phone calls. No texting, playing handheld games or listening to headphones. Tuning in to each other will pay off for everyone.
Asparagus Gratin

2 heads of asparagus, white or green

1 cup Parmesan cheese

2 cups bread crumbs (seasoned)

Salt and pepper

Extra virgin olive oil

Bring a sauce pot with 8 cups of water to a boil and season with salt. Trim asparagus (peeling may be necessary depending on the skin). Place all asparagus in boiling water for about 3 minutes. Strain and place in an ice bath to stop the immediate cooking process.

Dry asparagus and place on a flat baking sheet with all the tips facing the same way.

Mix Parmesan and bread crumbs together and season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle bread crumb mixture on the base of the asparagus, leaving the tips exposed. Sprinkle with a little olive oil and place under the broiler until golden brown.