Nowadays, everyone is so busy that it seems like there is little time to sit down as a family and enjoy a meal. In our house both my husband and I work full-time out of the home, and my son is in daycare all day. By the time my husband picks up my son, Austin (3), from school, it’s around 5:30pm, and then already 6pm when they get home. I get home shortly after around 6:30pm. Then it’s always a scramble to make dinner and have some time eating together before it’s time to start Austin’s bedtime routine. Most days it is really hard to sit down as a family to eat, and I know we aren’t the only ones who feel this way because 1 in 4 families say that their mealtime feels ‘more disjointed than ever,” and they don’t feel a family vibe- more like individuals living under one roof. Both my husband and I Make a huge effort to spend the time after work with Austin and make it quality time. We don’t normally have our cell phones out or our computers open (unless I’m looking up a recipe!). I feel it’s super important to be engaged with him and show him that the time we do have together really counts.
Recently I heard about Barilla’s Share the Table Family Diner Project, and I couldn’t agree more with it! Barilla wants to inspire, empower and support all families to share more meaningful meals together. Basically they are encouraging families to sit down and eat together and be present instead of engaged elsewhere (put those cell phones away!). When I was reading the stats about eating together, I wasn’t surprised at all. They found things such as kids benefiting from better grades (49% report mostly A’s) and healthier habits (such as eating nutritious foods, 33%) and describe themselves as respectful (75%), happy (70%), rule followers (66%), confident (58%), independent (56%) and hardworking (52%). It’s not just the kids benefit from having quality meal times; adults have more feelings of happiness (65%), and are less likely to have feelings of stress (65%). Meaningful meals together can bring positive changes to families. Both parents and kids alike experience overall life satisfaction and increased emotional benefits when they share the table together.
In an effort to spend more time as a family eating, we decided to throw together an Easy Cheesy Veggie Pasta Bake for dinner. Taking less than 20 minutes from start to finish, it is a super quick and easy family friendly meal. Who doesn’t love pasta, anyway?!
First, I boiled some water and added the noodles. While those started to cook I diced up some zucchini and mushrooms. When the pasta was about 2 minutes from being cooked, I tossed those veggies right into the water with the pasta, and let cook for the remaining 2 minutes.
Next, I drained the pasta/veggies, and then added them back to the empty pot. Then I added the Barilla pasta sauce (we love the tomato basil kind), a handful of mozzarella cheese, and mixed it up well.
Next I preheated my broiler on high, and dumped the pasta into an oven safe casserole dish. Topped with some more mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses, then added a couple dashes of Italian spices on top of the cheese. I carefully put the casserole dish into the oven/broiler, and let broil for about 3 minutes (time will vary based on oven, just watch it) until the top was bubbling and starting to brown-yum!
I also toasted up some garlic bread on the side! Totally delicious! See below for a full printable recipe!
My husband helped our son set the table and bring drinks over, and then it was time to dig in!
Eating together is always so nice and relaxing. I love asking Austin about his day, what he enjoyed and what he didn’t enjoy, and discussing our plans for the upcoming week. I think it’s amazing that Barilla is doing this campaign because it really encourages families to come together and build their family relationship.
- I pound box Barilla pasta (your choice, I like spirals or bow ties for this recipe!)
- 1 medium zucchini, chopped
- 8oz baby bella mushrooms, diced (other variety would be fine too)
- 1 jar Barilla pasta sauce
- 1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded and divided
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
- dried oregano, thyme, and basil leaves
- 1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add pasta and cook according to package directions. When there is 2 minutes left before the pasta is done, add zucchini and mushrooms into pot. Cook remaining 2 minutes. Strain.
- 2. Preheat broiler on high.
- 3. Add Barillia Pasta sauce to pot, then add the strained pasta/veggies into the sauce. Mix well. Add 1/3 cup of mozzarella cheese into pot. Mix well.
- 4. Grease a large casserole dish with cooking spray, and then dump pasta mixture into baking dish. Top with remaining 2/3 cup mozzarella and 1/4 cup parmesan cheeses. Sprinkle a dash of dried spices (oregano, thyme, and basil), over top the cheese.
- 5. Please in broiler and cook for 3-5 minutes. Watch closely as it can burn quickly and cook time depends on oven. When it is bubbly and browning, take it out.
- Serve and enjoy!
Another great thing about Barilla’s Share the Table is how they are working with Feed America. Feeding America is the nation’s largest organization dedicated to fighting domestic hunger through a network of food banks, and Barilla supports that goal. Now, it’s your turn- share what happens when you connect with your family with #ShareTheTable. For every post using #ShareTheTable, Barilla will help provide the monetary equivalent of ten meals ($1.11) to Feeding America, up to one million meals. One dollar helps provide 9 meals secured by Feeding America on behalf of local member food banks. Valid through 4/30/14. For mealtime inspiration visit SharetheTable.com – view the video and learn how you can start sharing the table.
Do you and your family Share the Table on weeknights? What is your favorite family meal to make?
Thanks for visiting!