House Rules: On Table Etiquette, Cooking, and Eating

House Rules: On Table Etiquette, Cooking, and Eating. The average American family sits down together to have a meal about four times a week. That frequency is up from the 1990s, but still, that’s not very much togetherness time. When you’re dining together, you don’t want to spend half the meal lecturing your kids on how to act more like royalty than rock star at the table. So, the earlier you can teach them the fundamentals, the better off everyone will be. Kids from six on can understand and quickly learn all of these rules, while younger ones should be taught the fi rst three.

House Rules: On Table Etiquette, Cooking, and Eating
Rules for Table Etiquette
First, some rules for adults: Be sure to compliment the kids on the things they do correctly at the table; make good manners a game, not something that feels like punishment. Remember that they will take their cues from you, so you must be a good role model. Finally, have fun—mealtime is supposed to be enjoyable.

  1. Chew each bite with your mouth closed. 
  2. Hold and use the fork and knife properly. Try to use fingers only for foods such as corn on the cob, tacos, and sandwiches. 
  3. Use napkins—not clothes—for wiping hands and mouth. Keep the napkin on your lap. Place it neatly next to the plate when you are done. 
  4. Wait for everyone to be seated and ready before starting to eat. 
  5. Don’t take food from another’s plate unless you are invited to do so. 
  6. Do not speak negatively of your fellow diners’ food or culinary preferences. 
  7. Don’t reach across the table to get something. Ask for it to please be passed. 
  8. No burping or crude talk.
Rules for Cooking
  1. Before you begin a recipe, read it all the way through and make sure you have the ingredients and the necessary equipment. 
  2. Prepare the ingredients in the ingredients list—chop the onion, pat the meat dry, peel the carrot, melt the butter. 
  3. Clean up as you go. 
  4. The estimated cooking time is an important guide to tell when you’ve reached a certain point in the recipe, but the way the food looks—Is the onion soft or golden? Is the ground beef crumbled and browned?—is a better indicator. 
  5. The internal temperature of meats and poultry taken with a thermometer is the ultimate guide to their doneness.

Rules for Feeding Children
  1. Don’t feed kids something you wouldn’t eat yourself. 
  2. Start everyone off with a little “appetizer” of raw veggies—sugar snap peas, edamame, carrots, or snow peas. At breakfast time, start them off with fresh fruit. 
  3. Don’t use food as a punishment or a bribe. Don’t say, “If you eat your vegetables, you can have dessert.” That sentiment reinforces the notion they must be eating something yucky in order to get dessert. 
  4. Encourage slow eating: It takes about twenty minutes for the stomach to tell the brain that you are full, so eating slowly is best for both digestion and preventing overeating. 
  5. Anyone who wants seconds needs to wait a few minutes for the stomach to feel full. Then offer some more veggies or fruit before giving an additional quarter portion of the main dish.
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