(Family Features) Busy schedules leave families with little time to spend together, especially during the work and school week. But reconnecting can be simple if you think outside the box.
Professional chef, author and mother-of-two, Maureen Petrosky understands that spending quality time with your loved ones can be a challenge, especially when you're working to get a nutritious meal on the table each night. "But by adding a little creativity to your day - from play time to meal prep - you'll quickly find that reconnecting won't have to be yet another task on your list, it'll be part of your daily routine," says Petrosky.
Use these meal and family activity ideas from Petrosky to spend less time in the kitchen, and more time having fun as a family.
Dine in together. "Just because you don't have time to create a meal from scratch, doesn't mean you can't put something on the table that's wholesome and delicious. Choose foods your kids like, such as Weaver Chicken Nuggets, which are high in protein, and have zero trans-fat," says Petrosky. She recommends keeping it simple and serving chicken nuggets alongside a big salad and some fresh bread from the bakery.
Spice it up. Petrosky recommends revisiting your pantry or spice drawer to avoid extra trips to the grocery store. "With simple ingredients such as rosemary, garlic, oregano or coriander, you can quickly transform your family's favorite meals into an array of dinner options. Get everyone involved in meal prep and use this time as an opportunity to catch up with one another."
- Whip up delicious dips. "Use ingredients already in your kitchen and let your little ones do the whisking," says Petrosky. Whisk a 1/2 cup mayonnaise, 1/2 cup plain yogurt, 1 crushed garlic clove, 1/4 teaspoon crushed oregano, 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper together. Refrigerate for one hour, and then serve as a dipping sauce with Weaver Chicken Nuggets and baby carrots.
- Host Fiesta Fridays. Create a festive Santa Fe sauce using 2-1/3 cups thick and chunky salsa, 1-2/3 cups ranch dressing and 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice. Ask your kids to drizzle the sauce over chicken nuggets, shredded lettuce, diced cilantro, cheese and tortilla chips.
Kid-friendly Activities for Any Night of the Week
Go camping indoors. Between soccer and piano lessons, as well as birthday parties, it can be difficult for families to plan a weekend away. Petrosky and her family camp in instead. The rule: no lights, phones or computers from dusk to dawn. She recommends draping the couch and chairs with sheets for a makeshift tent. "Put your sleeping bags on the floor, grab your flashlights, and share your best ghost stories."
Start a dance party. A great way to have some fun with your family is to get everyone dancing. Turn off the TV and turn on some good tunes. Make homemade trophies and prizes to give to the winners. Create special categories for best moves, best spins, most creative, most enthusiastic and silliest dancer.
Turn chore time into an a-maze-ing race. In ten minutes, you can create an indoor maze, complete with clues to take your family on an at-home adventure. Incorporate simple chores like putting away laundry, cleaning under the bed, or setting the table. The final reward can be their favorite dinner or an extra bedtime story.
For more ideas for wholesome, quick and easy meals, visit www.WeaverChicken.com, or like Weaver Chicken on Facebook.