Friday, January 7, 2011

Dinner for Busy Moms : Easy Strategies for Getting Your Family to the Table - Jeanne Muchnick

Summary: It's 6 p.m., there's nothing in the fridge, and you have no idea what you're serving for dinner...let alone how you're going to get Kid Number One to piano lessons and pick up Kid Number Two from soccer.

Study after study proves time spent gathered at the kitchen table is a significant way to strengthen family bonds. Yet, in our time-crunched world, how do we fit the "goal" of providing our families with sit-down meals, with out crazy, busy reality? This is not a cookbook but a strategy guide filled with expert advice from mom's just like you. And yes, take-out counts.

Learn how to:
  • Turn off the TV and get back to the table (without a revolt)
  • "Shop" your pantry
  • Buy smarter--and save money
  • Nourish kids of all ages
  • "Feed" your soul (aka eat in peace)
  • Empower yourself with foolproof recipes
  • Answer the question "What's for dinner?"
 (Summary from book - Image from cbsd.com - Book given free for review)

My Review: I am not a professional mother. Oh sure, I have dreams of turning pro and having my kids shower me with accolades, but as it stands I am mostly intermediate-level with days where I sink to rank amateur. Thanks to my mother, I grew up with a strong tradition of family dinners and an understanding of how to plan meals for a large family. While the children didn’t always cook, we were required to help with set up and clean up. I have tried to continue this tradition with my children, however as they get older, something strange has started to happen. Homework. Dance class. School meetings. How do they make that much LAUNDRY? Suddenly there is so much to be done in a single day that sometimes macaroni and cheese is the best I can do.

I picked up Dinner for Busy Moms hoping to find ways to make things flow more smoothly, to get my family to the table more often, and to feed them something that approximates nutritious food. This book has a great message and offers an avalanche of tips for making dinner easier that someone who is unfamiliar with meal planning and the family dinner would find very useful. Its main focus? Get your kids to the table (in whatever way you can). Eat. Talk. Spend time together. The rest is icing.

While I appreciate and applaud the objective of Dinner for Busy Moms, its delivery felt a bit like my day -- chaotic. Each chapter is so packed with tips, tricks, and plugs for so-and-so’s cooking blog/nutrition website/meal-planning business that it felt disorganized and burdened with what amounted to advertisements, regardless of their relevance. I was forced to choose whether to read the main text, skipping all the side articles, gadget ads, and “mom tips,” and then go back to them when I finished the chapter, or to stop on each page and read the various sections while trying to hold on to the flow of the book. It seemed that no matter which method I chose, I ended up feeling disoriented. Also, because this book caters to all kinds of mothers -- with different lifestyles, parenting philosophies, and cooking abilities -- many of the tips will conflict with each other. For example, the author suggests to buy prepared foods to speed dinner on its way to the table, but on another page we are encouraged to shop on the outside aisles of the supermarket for healthier whole foods.

As mom’s we tend to think that we need to have it all and be it all. Whether that means being the stay-at-home-super-mom, or the working-wonder-mom, we often feel enormous amounts of guilt if our homes don’t mimic Leave It To Beaver come dinner time. Overall, I wish this book contained more quick and healthy recipes, but I felt it held a wonderful message on the importance of family dinners and would be a useful resource for a person who is new to the concept of meal planning and family dinners.

My Rating: 3.25 Stars

Sum it up: A helpful tool for the amateur meal planner and a motivational reminder of the importance of family dinner.

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