When I was a young girl, family meals were so boring. All we had were the conventional meals: white rice/jollof rice/fried rice with stew and beef/chicken/fish, swallow with soup and beef/chicken/fish, boiled beans, boiled/fried yam with fried egg and so on. In short, there was nothing on the plate to make me look forward to the meals. Sure, they were delicious, but there are ways to spice up your meals to make them more attractive to kids, adults and guests.
Spicing up your family meals does many things. Firstly, it makes you want to gobble up everything you have on your plate. After all, for it to look so good, it must taste even better. Secondly, it will make your kids look forward to meals, and it helps them learn about their culture. Thirdly, your house will become the most visited one in the neighbourhood just because everybody knows you can cook up a storm.
I’m all for making family meals interesting. The jokes, the laughter, the bond! It makes an otherwise boring and drudgery event a fun one to look forward to. Now that we’ve tackled the “why should we spice up family meals” questions, let’s get down to the “how to spice up family meals”. Here are some amazing ways:
PLAY WITH COLOURS
Sometimes, the blandness of a meal puts me off. In the past, I rarely add anything to my white rice when I boil it. By the time I'm done, I feel so reluctant to eat it afterwards because it doesn't appeal to me. When this happened a few times, I realised what I needed was actually colours. Then, I bought carrots, green peas—mixed vegetables—and I added them for my next cooking adventure. It made a whole lot of difference! My flat mates ended up eating more than I did! If you know your family meals will look monotonous and plain, add colours. This trick works especially with kids because they love colours. Doing this might help you see that family meals don't need to be stressful as they might be.
HAVE AN INDOOR PICNIC:
Strange, right? But sometimes, eating at the family table does get a bit boring. Spice it up by surprising your family with an indoor picnic. Just grab a mat big enough to fit everyone. Take some paper plates (just so your fancy China plates stay safe) and dish the food. Alternating how you dine every other month really does make the family bond more.
LEARN TO GARNISH YOUR MEALS
I know that in this part of the world, we hardly take cognizance of what's on our plate. It's perfectly understandable considering our parents and grandparents just dish the food out on a plate and put it in our hands. Hey, you don't have to follow the tradition anymore! Garnished foods are simply amazing. The little extra around and on top makes you wonder what lies within the food itself. Next time you make your family meals, garnish it to spice it up and make it look more attractive.
LIGHT SOME CANDLES
Do you know why many people love going to restaurants for nice meals? Most times, it's not because of the food (because we can cook a lot of them in our houses with the right ingredients and recipes). It's usually because of the ambience. A candlelit dinner makes you feel like royalty. It makes you feel cherished, emotional and jolly. Take the initiative today and light up some candles for your next family dinner. Your kids, spouse or guest(s) won’t stop asking you when the next candlelight dinner will be.
DISPLAY YOUR FOOD WITH A MORE APPEALING ARRANGEMENT
Top chefs understand the importance of arranging food on the plate. It appeals to your sense of sight, taste, smell and touch. By the time the waiters put the food in front of you, your mouth is already watering. Don't just slap the food on your plate in one spot. Arrange it. Put the plantains around the rice or egg in a circular motion. Learn to be creative with how you arrange your food. If you have children, arrange the food differently for each child. If you do this, you'll have them speculating on what will be up your sleeves for the next family meal.
Spicing up your family meals is an amazing way to bring your family closer, show off your cooking skills and just have a great time! The most important thing is to have fun when following these tips. If you don’t get the desired effect this time, don’t worry. There’s always the next family meal to be more creative and to make more difference.