Friday Dinners That Will Bring Your Family to the Table!

Enjoy hearty, healthy family dinners at the end of a long week with tips and recipes from The United Dairy Industry of Michigan/Milk Means More.

It’s Friday and you’ve made it to the end of a long week! You’ve earned some quality family time and a delicious, healthy dinner. 

Research shows that bonding around the dinner table is not only fun, but it is also beneficial to your child’s health. A study published in the journal Pediatrics showed that children and adolescents who eat three or more family meals together a week have healthier dietary and eating patterns than those who don’t. 

It’s tempting to order takeout and call it a day, but there is a better way to approach Friday family dinners. The United Dairy Industry of Michigan/Milk Means More has nutrition tips along with quick, healthy and tasty recipes that you can whip up on Friday nights.

A healthier Friday night tradition

Start your healthy Friday family dinner tradition by committing to planning your meal ahead of time. With the right ingredients in the house, making a family dinner can be a breeze, not a chore. Do your grocery shopping earlier in the week so that you don’t have to slog through crowded stores on your way home before the weekend. Less stress also means more quality family time!

Getting the kids involved in the cooking process is another way to start Friday night off right. Engage them by having them stir or mix ingredients, shred cheese or other easy, age-appropriate tasks that keep them interested in the upcoming meal. Of course, always supervise little ones around the stove or with a cheese shredder. Another benefit of having your kids help prepare healthy food with you – they are more likely to develop healthy eating habits.

Once you have a rotation of Friday family dinner favorites, you can take turns picking the meal. After dinner, why not make Friday a movie, game or reading night? The meal can be just the beginning of some quality downtime together.

The benefits of adding dairy to dinner

Adding dairy to your dinner has excellent nutrition benefits. Dairy foods like cheese, yogurt and milk offer protein and calcium and fill your family up with goodness rather than making them crave junk later on in the evening. 

Another benefit of adding dairy to your Friday family dinner? It adds flavor and a delicious creamy texture that will help kids dig in. 

If you’re concerned about the fat in cheese, current research shows that saturated fats from dairy foods may not affect the cardiovascular system the same way as others. The saturated fats in cheese may actually help prevent strokes and protect against heart disease.

Don’t forget to serve milk at the dinner table. It has the same amount of calcium as 10 cups of raw spinach and it’s much easier to convince your kids to consume.

And if you are wondering about sustainability, be assured that Michigan farmers are committed to sustainable dairy nutrition. In fact, the carbon footprint of dairy milk today is 63% smaller than in 1944.

Ready for some recipes? The following are courtesy of the United Dairy Industry of Michigan/Milk Means More. You can find these recipes and many others at the Milk Means More website.

These yummy, healthy and quick-to-make dishes will become part of your Friday night family time. Plus, all recipes below take 30 minutes or less to make! 

Main Dish Recipes:

Chicken Caprese Skillet All the goodness of a Caprese salad: fresh mozzarella, tomato and basil tops juicy chicken for an Italian-inspired meal.

Quick Chicken Curry Super-easy to make and full of flavor, you can save even more time by serving this over microwave brown or jasmine rice.

Skillet Macaroni and Cheese The addition of chicken, veggies and herbs makes this a hearty and healthy spin on a kid favorite. 

Mexican Lasagna Your favorite Mexican flavors in a homey baked dish that will warm you right up as the nights get colder.

Healthy Broccoli Potato Cheese Soup Two soup favorites in one: broccoli, potatoes and cheese combine for a hearty dinner-time soup. Serve with crusty bread.

Cheesy Turkey Chili Mac Chili mac is always good and this one lightens things up with ground turkey instead of beef. This recipe has instructions for both Instant Pot and stovetop cooking.

Sweet Treats:

Homemade Vanilla Pudding Homemade pudding is on a whole other level and the milk in the recipe provides taste and nutrition! Try the variations: chocolate-peanut butter, banana and coconut.

Double chocolate milkshake The chocolate lovers in the family will love this ice cream treat and best of all, it takes just five minutes to make. 

For more kid-friendly Friday family dinners and recipes, visit the Milk Means More website.

Jenny Kales
Jenny Kales
Content editor Jenny Kales has been in the business of writing for more than 20 years. A natural storyteller, she loves helping Metro Parent clients tell their stories in a way that resonates with their audiences.

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