4 Great Ideas for an Interactive Family Dinner

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What’s for dinner? I am sure you have heard this question at least 1,000 times if you are reading this post. You may even have issues getting your kids to eat, like us. I know I am always looking for fun ideas to spice up family dinner time, make it enjoyable, and I try to get the kids to eat a variety of foods at the same time. Interactive family dinners can accomplish all of that while you spend quality time together.

I know that it is not reasonable to do this every night but shooting for once a week has a lot of pros. Not only does it make dinner time enjoyable, but it also actually has some lessons in it. The kids learn what it takes to make a meal, have portion control, and clean up after a meal. The food is not just sitting on the table waiting for them and they get to control how much they put on their plate.

Here are some really easy interactive dinners to try to incorporate into your weekly routine. Once you pick one, let the family help you come up with your list of items. It helps them see how you plan meals and have to buy the ingredients to be prepared.

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Make Your Own Pizza

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I talk about this one a lot because it is one of our kids’ favorites. There are many different ways to create this experience, but it is always fun.

We like to start with the already made pizza bases, but you can make your own or buy premade dough as well. We also like the individual pizza pans because it makes it more “real”. Don’t forget your chef hats and aprons too!

Once you have your base ready, brush the crust with your favorite olive oil, spread on some pizza sauce, and then you can load up on toppings. Here are some of our favorites:

  • Shredded Cheese- We use an Italian blend
  • Ricotta Cheese
  • Pepperoni
  • Bacon Pieces
  • Mushrooms
  • Onions
  • Peppers
  • Hot Pepper Flakes
  • Parmesan Cheese

You can also add a salad to the side here. Salad and pizza go great together! You can chop the lettuce and get it ready while your pizza cooks. When the pizzas are done, let them cool so that all your toppings don’t fall off when you cut them.

The Nacho or Taco Bar

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This one in simple enough. There are so many different items that you can include in a nacho or taco bar, and it is always great when everyone can make them their own way.

Start with your base, the chips and shells. We like to use different flavors of Doritos as our base but obviously there are a zillion options out there. If you are doing tacos, they make really neat colored taco stands.

After you have your base, you can choose your proteins and toppings. Here are some ideas:

  • Ground Beef
  • Chicken
  • Pulled Pork
  • Beans
  • Avacado
  • Rice
  • Cheese
  • Cheese Sauce
  • Lettuce
  • Tomato
  • Sour Cream
  • Peppers
  • Salsa
  • Taco Sauce

Beans or rice go really well as sides dishes for taco bars. If you want, the kids can help you prepare the side dishes, or they can work on setting up all the toppings while you do.

A Pasta Bar

a woman preparing foods for her kids
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Most people don’t think of pasta as a make your own option but, in our house it kind of has to be. We have 2 kids who hate red sauce and 2 kids who hate white sauce. But then we have a child who only likes spaghetti noodles, believe it or not. You can see why we need to do make your own pasta bar night. But it is also fun and easy!

Start with your noodles. Gluten free, veggie, long, thin, and shapes are all different types that you can choose. There are hundreds of them to choose from. We like to choose two as our base and put a little butter in them after they are done cooking so that they do not stick together.

Then comes the sauces. We do an alfredo sauce and a red meat sauce as our two options, but we have tried cheese sauces and pesto sauces as well.

For toppings, you can choose meats, vegetables, and cheeses. Below are a few examples:

  • Italian Sausage Chunks
  • Meatballs
  • Chicken Strips
  • Broccoli
  • Mozzarella Cheese
  • Parmesan Cheese

Don’t forget your salad and garlic bread. They go great with pasta! Again, you can work on your salad while the pasta is cooking. Pasta bars require a lot of serving bowls so don’t forget those in your preparation.

The Fondue Experience

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If your kids are a little older, this is a good one. Obviously, we have put up our fondue pot at the moment (too many littles) but, have hopes to break it out again one day.

You can do a three-course spread with fondue. It takes some up-front prep but again, the kids should help with that.

Course one is all about the cheese. Try bread pieces and a melted cheese. Swiss, Gouda, and Fontina make great cheese options for fondue.

Course two is your main proteins. Chicken is always a hit in our family but really you can do just about anything. Beef, pork, and seafood are all options. You cook them in either a broth or an oil. So, you have to choose one of those as well.

Course three is the best and family favorite. Dessert! You can dip just about anything in melted chocolate, and it tastes good. Some great options are cake squares, fruits, marshmallows, and graham crackers.

Hopefully this has sparked an idea for you and your family. Be sure to also check out my post that gives seven great ways that you can spend quality family time together. Enjoy your dinner!

-Kristy M., Mommy to Many

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