5 Suggestions for Eating Together as a Family ++ A Crock Pot® Giveaway!

5 Suggestions for Eating Together as a Family - SidetrackedSarah.com

Eating together as a family is so important, but with the busyness of life, it can be hard to find the time to actually sit down and eat together.  In our family, we have 3 main challenges.

  1. Dad’s coming home schedule is ever changing.
  2. Kids have activities outside of the home, 3 nights a week.
  3. Sometimes dad just wants to “veg” out in front of the TV after a long day of work.
  4. The table is always cluttered with school books and art projects.
  5. I don’t always plan ahead enough to feed everyone early enough before they have to leave.

Do you have some of these same excuses?

I’d love to encourage you and your family to try eating dinner together at the table at least 3-5 times a week.  This may take some special tweaking and planning ahead, but believe me, it’ll be worth it.  I’ll be working on this right alongside of you!

5 Suggestions for Getting Your Family to Eat Together at the Table

  • Plan Your Meals Ahead – That is exactly why I’ve created Crockpot Freezer meals!  So that I can plan our meals a week at a time and have them all ready at once.  There are plenty of weeks though that I don’t get the prep work done.  I’m far from perfect, that’s for sure!  On weeks like that, I just try to plan one day at a time.  Regardless, if you would like your family around the table a little more often, be sure to plan something and not fly by the seat of your pants all the time.
  • Make the Conversation Entertaining - Come up with several conversation ideas that you can talk about each night while you’re eating dinner together.  Make it fun, like telling stories of when mom and dad were little, when they were dating, when the kids were younger, etc.  Kids love hearing the stories from their parents and from their own pasts as well.  They will beg to come back to the dinner table each night if you make it interesting for them!  The possibilities are endless!
  • Don’t Allow Media Devices – This is one of my pet peeves.  What fun is it eating together if everyone has their noses buried in a phone, computer, or other media device?  Not fun at all.  Make rules regarding media devices and everyone will connect so much easier!
  • Have Themed Dinners - If your child is studying a certain country or other geographic area, try to incorporate your dinner around what they’re studying.  You can discuss that country and their practices while at the dinner table.  Once again, this does require some planning, but if you’re planning anyway….it won’t be hard to add this in.
  • Invite Friends - Let your family know that if you begin making a habit of eating together, you’ll regularly invite friends over for dinner, too.  My kids love having company for dinner, don’t yours?  That’ll get them all excited about having the habit of eating together.

Now, I realize that dinner time is never going to be perfect.  Don’t let that get you down.  One setback doesn’t mean you should throw in the towel.  Just pick up where you left off and get going again!

Now, since I’m known as the Crock Pot® Lady, I thought it was appropriate to give away a Crock Pot®!

Crock Pot® Giveaway




Today, I’m partnering with #InspiredFamilyDinners to provide lots of great giveaways, focusing on getting the family around the dinner table!

I’m giving away this beautiful 4.5 quart Damask Crock Pot® Slow Cooker!  If you’d like a chance to win it, just enter your information in the Rafflecopter below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway
  This giveaway is a part of the Inspired Family Dinners Campaign with the Inspired Bloggers Network. Be sure to enter all of the fun giveaways linked below!

Inspired Family Dinners  

Inspired Family Dinners Giveaway ($800 All-Clad Cookware+)

Do you struggle to get your family to the table for dinner in the evenings? You all know that I do!  That’s precisely why I started using my Crockpot Freezer Meals.  But still, I’ve been guilty of not using that amazing tool to get dinner served for my family in time.  If you can believe it, there are many days where I forget to even think about dinner until about 3:00 p.m.  That’s when I start kicking myself for not getting something in earlier.  I’m sure that I am not alone. Many families skip the dinner table for a quick meal in the drive through or ignore the dining room to eat in front of a screen. For this reason, the Inspired Bloggers Network is teaming together with Favado and $5 Dinners to equip you with the tips and inspiration to make dinner time with the family a greater priority.

Over the next two weeks, the bloggers of the Inspired Bloggers Network will be sharing recipes and tips as well as budget-friendly meal planning resources on our blogs and in social media with the hashtag #inspiredfamilydinners. To kick everything off, we want you to get to know our sponsors with an awesome giveaway!

Enter to win an All-Clad Cookware set and $5 Dinners Cookbook Gift Basket for Inspired Family Dinners with Favado

Enter to win an All-Clad Cookware Set (valued at $800) from Favado and a Cookbook Gift Basket from $5 Dinners between now and February 23rd at 11:59 PM CST.

About Favado

Favado is a mobile savings app that helps shoppers stop overspending on groceries by notifying them when their favorite items are on sale.

With Favado, users can…

  • Compare prices across multiple local grocery and drugstores.
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  • Build a shopping list in the app, so you don’t forget anything that’s on sale!

Favado has money saving experts who hand select sales and coupons every week — in more than 65,000 grocery and drugstores nationwide — to enable discovery of the best deals for savings up to 70% on everyday items.

So, sign up for Favado and start saving. Then, follow Favado everywhere: Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.

Win $1,000 with #FavadoLove

About $5 Dinners

Erin Chase has helped millions of families across the countries enjoy delicious and nutritious family dinners, for less! She’s put together a gift basket with a copy of each of her cookbooks – The $5 Dinner Mom Cookbook, her Breakfast and Lunch Cookbook, and her One Dish Dinners cookbook - along with some fabulous cooking utensils!

You can find more of her great recipes at 5DollarDinners.com.

Enter to win

To enter for a chance to with the All-Clad Cookware Set (valued at $800) from Favado and a Cookbook Gift Basket from $5 Dinners, you must choose from any (or all) of the choices in the giveaway widget below. This giveaway will close on February 23rd at 11:59 PM CST. For official rules, please view below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited by law. Facebook and Pinterest are in no way connected or responsible for this giveaway and are held blameless of all legal responsibilities. Winning entry will be selected through Rafflecopter using Random.org and will be notified by email on February 24, 2014. If the winner has not responded within 48 hours, another winner will be selected. US Residents Only.  Good luck.

Chocolate Peppermint Bars Recipe – Christmas Baking

This post was sponsored by McCormick.  Any opinions are 100% my own.  

I love me some Christmas baking!  Don’t you?  You get to make all sorts of treats that you wouldn’t have on any normal day of the week.  You get to share them with your friends and family, all while trying not to eat too many of them.  ;)  That’s the hard part!

I was blessed with the opportunity to try one of McCormick’s very own recipes and wow, what a hit this will be in our family.  I think this will be in our recipe box for years to come!    It is absolutely DELICIOUS!  There is the perfect amount of McCormick Peppermint Flavoring as well as the amazing amounts of chocolate.  If you like Peppermint Patties, you’ll want to try this!


Chocolate Peppermint Bars


In fact, it’s even better than a Peppermint Patty!  The bottom of it is a fudgy brownie.   Then, you top it with a white peppermint patty  mixture.  After that, you top it with melted chocolate chips mixed with butter.  Sprinkle on some crushed peppermint candies, to make it look amazingly tempting.  It is very rich, so you won’t want to go overboard on eating lots of pieces of this amazing treat at once!  But wow, seriously?!

Chocolate Peppermint Bars Recipe

1 family sized box of brownie mix
2.5 cups of Powdered Sugar
1/2 cup (one stick) plus 7 Tbsp of butter, divided
1.5 Tbsp. heavy cream
1 tsp. McCormick Pure Peppermint Extract
12 oz semi sweet baking chocolate, broken into pieces
Crushed Peppermint Candies (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare brownie mix as directed on package. Spread in greased foil-lined 15x10x1-inch baking pan.
  2. Bake 15 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out almost clean. Cool in pan on wire rack.
  3. Meanwhile, beat confectioners’ sugar, 7 tablespoons of the butter, melted, cream and peppermint extract in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended and smooth. Spread evenly over cooled brownie. Refrigerate 30 minutes.
  4. Microwave chocolate and remaining 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter in large microwave bowl on HIGH 2 minutes or until butter is melted. Stir until chocolate is completely melted. Spread over top of chilled brownie. Sprinkle with crushed peppermint candies, if desired. Cut into bars.

Here’s what my steps looked like:

Here’s what we started with!!

Chocolate Peppermint Bars | Sidetracked Sarah

We began by preparing the brownie mix.  While it was baking, we got my 2 year old started with breaking up the peppermints.  This boy loves to throw things and hammer things, so this was right up his alley!

Chocolate Peppermint Bars | Sidetracked Sarah


The brownies are out of the oven, so we let them cool for a while on a wire rack.

Chocolate Peppermint Bars | Sidetracked Sarah


While it was cooling,we got the peppermint mixture ready, complete with the McCormick Pure Peppermint Extract.

Chocolate Peppermint Bars | Sidetracked Sarah


Once the brownies were cool enough, we spread the mixture over the top of the brownies.  Then stuck them in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Chocolate Peppermint Bars | Sidetracked Sarah


While that was in the fridge for 30 minutes, we got the chocolate topping for the top ready.  We put butter and chocolate chips in the microwave.

Chocolate Peppermint Bars | Sidetracked Sarah

After they came out and we stirred them up, it looked like this:


Chocolate Peppermint Bars | Sidetracked Sarah


Then, we spread it over the top.  It looked like this….

Chocolate Peppermint Bars | Sidetracked Sarah


Finally, we sprinkled the top with broken pieces of peppermint.

Chocolate Peppermint Bars | Sidetracked Sarah


Mmmm, Mmmm, doesn’t that look scrumptious!

Chocolate Peppermint Bars | Sidetracked Sarah


The next morning, we cut them into bars. Don’t they look pretty?

Chocolate Peppermint Bars | Sidetracked Sarah


Even if they looked ugly, you can’t beat the taste!  Wowee, you’ll love these things!

Chocolate Peppermint Bars | Sidetracked Sarah


For more McCormick Christmas recipes, click here.