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Serving Thanksgiving: Buffet vs. Family Style

Serving Thanksgiving: Buffet vs. Family Style

When deciding on how to present Thanksgiving dinner, consider these pros and cons

How will you serve your family this thanksgiving?

After slaving away for hours at the oven, you are finally ready to put down the turkey baster and pick up the fork. Thanksgiving dinner has officially been cooked for your party and everyone is ready to eat, especially you. But as the host of this holiday, your duties don't end when the turkey timer dings. It is your job to make decisions of behalf of your guests, from menu selections to music. While you may have thought of everything when it comes to prepping and cooking the meal, you may not have considered how you are going to serve it to your guests.

At first it seems like a debate that's not even worth having. After all, you just made your guests a great meal — what more could be left to do other than to eat it? But a masterfully cooked dinner deserves to be eaten in a style that is conducive to your group. On Thanksgiving, there are generally two ways dinner can be done: buffet style or family style. For those who are unfamiliar with the differences, family style refers to a setting where all of the food rests on the table and is passed around once everyone is seated. Buffet style means guests serve themselves at their leisure and return to the table with their own made-up plate.

There are a number of things to consider when making a decision about serving styles. First, take a look at your potential guest list and determine a definitive number. Then you can take a look at the benefits and disadvantages of typical Thanksgiving dinner concerns like space and serving seconds. We invite you to take a look at our list of pros and cons to help you make a decision for your family table!

The best all-you-can-eat buffets in America

In America, we believe that it’s our God-given right to eat as much as we want, whenever we want to, and all-you-can-eat buffets are the perfect manifestation of that ethos. Thankfully, there are plenty of great places to live out that dream, and we’ve tracked down America’s 10 best.

There’s something about an all-you-can-eat buffet that makes us feel like kings. Having an unlimited amount of food at our disposal has been a goal of humans for thousands upon thousands of years, and achieving that goal by simply forking over some cash and grabbing a plate satisfies us in an almost primal way. With grumbling bellies, we plan our strategy and commence the feast.

Tackling a big buffet (the kind you find in Vegas-) isn’t just a culmination of human evolution, it’s an inner battle of endurance, and approaching one correctly can be an art form. Load your first plate up with starchy gut-busters like macaroni and cheese and you may hit the wall before you’re done with plate number two. But if you start with, say, crab legs, shrimp cocktail, oysters, some sushi, and salad, you’ll still be hungry for what’s to come and will have also knocked off the loss leaders, which are usually the most expensive items (and will have saved room for prime rib, of course).

No matter how you tackle an all-you-can-eat buffet, you’re guaranteed to leave full, satisfied, and maybe a little ashamed of your stomach capacity. But anything in moderation is fine, and buffets like these are something everybody should experience.

In order to assemble our ranking, we started by rounding up existing best buffet rankings both in print and online (including ones we’ve done ourselves), and added on many buffets that have garnered local acclaim but haven’t been recognized in any national rankings. We then judged them according to food selection, décor, price point, whether they include all-you-care-to-drink options, and variety.

The buffets included in our ranking run the gamut from Sunday-only extravaganzas to Las Vegas and Atlantic City palaces, from old country smorgasbords to classic Chinese buffets. But no matter the style of food served, these buffets all have a couple things in common: They’re attained legendary status, and there’s absolutely no way you can eat there and go home hungry

Dining Out at a Buffet Restaurant

Buffet restaurants are excellent options for family dining. Each person can choose whatever he or she wants, and if they don't get enough during the first round, a second trip to the serving dishes is typically allowed, unless otherwise stated.

Tips for restaurant buffet etiquette:

  1. Walk around and look at all the food items before making your selection. That way you can plan, starting with what appeals to you the most. Start there and work your way toward items you would like to try without running out of room on your plate.
  2. When dining out at a buffet style restaurant, always get a fresh plate before putting food on it. Returning with the same plate is unsanitary and may spread germs and bacteria.
  3. Never reach around someone else. Doing so is not only rude, but it's also likely to cause an accident that can be avoided if you wait until they are finished making their selection.
  4. Keep the line moving. Don't hover over the serving table while trying to figure out whether or not you want something. If you aren't sure, move on and come back later, after you decide.
  5. Don't touch any of the food in the serving dishes. Never use your fingers to pluck something off a serving dish. Use the tongs, spoon, or serving fork that is provided. You also don't want to lick your fingers while standing at the serving counter.
  6. Place all serving utensils in the original dishes. You don't want to cross contaminate items. If someone is allergic to a food item that winds up in another dish, that person may become very sick.
  7. When you get up from your table to return to the buffet, place your napkin on the seat of your chair to let others know you are returning.
  8. If you feel the urge to cough or sneeze, turn your head away from the serving table. Even if there is a sneeze guard, some of the germs can spread to the food.
  9. Even though you are serving yourself at a buffet, you will want to leave a tip. The staff still has to remove dirty plates and clean the table.
  10. Most buffet style restaurants have a policy of not allowing doggie bags with leftovers. You may eat all you want, as long as you do it there.

15 Bite-Sized Thanksgiving Appetizers That Your Guests Will Adore

As guests gather, give them a little something special to eat while they're waiting for the big feast. Serving bite-sized appetizers that are easy to prepare on or before Thanksgiving is a surefire way to keep everyone from asking, "When will the turkey be ready?" This collection of delicious mini appetizers is just the solution.

When preparing Thanksgiving appetizers, keep the recipe simple and ingredients list minimal. Smoked Trout and Cucumber bites require just three ingredients and are super easy to slice, layer, and serve in just about 15 minutes total. Similarly, the only cooking required for Persimmon and Brie Crostini is toasting the baguette for 10 minutes, then melting the cheese and sugar on top for just another two minutes. Quick, straightforward, and an absolute delight to snack on before the turkey.

Or get a head start on bite-sized Thanksgiving appetizers by prepping parts, or all, of the dish beforehand. For example, the dough for homemade crackers, like these Whole-Wheat-and-Sesame Crackers and Fig-and-Almond Crackers, can be prepped and frozen for up to three months, then baked off and served with dried fruit, jam, and cheese. It saves you time day-of and the finished product is incredible.

Can't pull your crowd away from the football game? Serve a game day-inspired appetizer in front of the television. These Loaded Potato Bites combine all of the elements of a baked potato in one flavorful appetizer&mdashand they look adorable to boot.

Everyone will enjoy these bite-sized appetizers for Thanksgiving (just remember to save room for the main event!).

Catered Buffets

There are some situations when a buffet may be more suitable than a served meal. If you wish to offer several proteins or side choices a buffet could be your best option. A planner might decide on three entrees, such as chicken, beef, and fish, to make sure the dietary preferences of most the guests are acknowledged.

Guests are able to match their dinner choice to individual tastes and appetites. Buffets work well with standing receptions or “dinner by the bite” events. The food is presented as a tasting. It's secondary in scope to the other festivities.

A buffet is a popular format for events like parties, luncheons, and pre-game functions. Social events are the best match because there's less focus on the timeliness and consistency of service.

Planners can take significantly more risks when choosing menus for standing receptions because guests have plenty of selections to choose from. Just be sure to include appropriate wording on your invitations so attendees don't arrive expecting a full meal.

Thanksgiving – An Opportunity to be Thankful, Grateful and Mindful

For many people, Thanksgiving marks the “kickoff” to the holiday season and is a welcomed time that allows us more focused time to be with the ones we love and to reflect on the traditions and memories we have come to know and cherish. Unfortunately, for individuals who struggle with disordered eating, the holiday season can be not much more than a time of heightened anxiety and stress. With Thanksgiving being only a few short days away, I wanted to provide you with a few of my thoughts that just may make the fear and anxiety you may be feeling a little bit less and help you enjoy your holiday season in a healthy and happy way.

  • Make time to attend your nutrition appointment. Ramping up your therapeutic support during a busy holiday week is always a good idea. This is NOT the time to cut your support back. Seeing your RD lends you the opportunity to prepare a structured/individualized meal plan that addresses your family’s unique foods and serving styles (buffet vs family style) so that you are prepared to handle either. Reviewing traditional foods, recipe ingredients, portion sizes and getting answers to the most popular question “What do I count combination foods as” will ensure you meet your nutritional needs and will boost your self–confidence which will enhance your mealtime experience. I promise, hearing the familiar reassuring words from your Dietitian that your plan is solid WILL reduce food fear stress and help keep you focused.
  • Set Limits. If necessary have that conversation with a triggering family member AHEAD OF TIME that it is not okay to stare at what you are/or are not eating or discuss treatment, food or weight with you on this day. If you do not feel ready for this you may request an alternative family member to set the boundary for you.
  • Identify a consistently supportive person in your life and ask them to be your “support buddy” at the holiday event. If this person will not be at the event, set up a plan to text or call this person when needed if you get stuck. Discussing your concerns ahead of time and identifying potential roadblocks and an action plan will help your support person remember which skills to remind you of. Familiarity is key. You will feel comforted by knowing a plan with only you in mind was prepared and there is a backup plan readily available when you feel things are going awry.
  • Plan ahead activities you can do to distract yourself if necessary. Bring board games, arts and crafts, sidewalk chalk to do with the kids. Bring your cell phone or an iPod with ear buds to play relaxing music or play a game app on your phone. Bring a football to toss around in the yard or watch the football game on TV. Focus on the kids or the family animals if possible. Kids and animals can be a helpful distraction from triggering adults. If possible, situate yourself at the table next to non-triggering individuals. Offer to sit at the kids table or next to your favorite grandma or aunt/uncle/cousin.
  • Identify and or bring visual props. If you have concerns about staying within the meal plan and you have a family who supports you “doing what you need to do”. I suggest ditching the meal plan and using a salad plate to put whatever foods you want on it and having that be your Thanksgiving plate. The chances of overeating or going way over on your meal plan are nil as the size of the plate itself makes overdoing it a near impossibility. Thanksgiving is a time of celebration and offers the opportunity to try new things. Try to not get too caught up on being exact with portions and allow yourself to sample new items and taste new flavors. It is OK to do this and I encourage you to challenge yourself- you might feel some emotional discomfort but perhaps also some joy in being able to try your beloved grandma’s sweet potato casserole that you haven’t been able to have since the ED took this opportunity away from you. Bring Tupperware or plastic containers for food “take aways”. When a family member wants you to try what they brought it is rarely because they won’t be happy unless you gobble down a huge piece. They are more than likely just wanting acknowledgement for the effort they put in to the preparation and presentation of the food item and would likely be as satisfied if you stated something like “Thank-you very much for making this amazing pie. I can see you put a lot of effort and time into this but I am full right now. I would love the chance to bring some home with me to try when I have more room”. This way you both win.
  • Be Mindful and focus on Gratitude. There are many things to focus your attention on that are good about the holiday. Your body affords you the opportunity to hone in on many senses. Focus on the breath in your body, the ability to walk, see, hear, smell, touch and feel. The simple things that bring you joy-such as the dimple in the smile of a child, the smell of mom’s perfume, a warm cozy blanket, the ambiance in the room (candles and a warm fire). Do not miss out on the happy things-you may be surprised to know how many things you are grateful for! In the words of Bhante Henepola Gunaratana:

Mindfulness gives you time.

Time gives you choices.

Choices skillfully made, lead

to freedom. You don’t have to be swept away by your

feeling. You CAN respond with

wisdom and kindness rather than habit and reactivity.

Yes, there will be a lot of food around but breaking these foods down into their simple parts it’s really the same foods I encourage you to eat each week. Turkey is just turkey, potatoes are just potatoes and green beans are the same green beans we add to your meal plan during an average day. It will all be ok. I will be thinking about you, be safe and stay strong and take comfort in knowing that you are not alone. I, and the staff at A New Beginning /TheHealthyWeighOut, wish you a Happy and Healthy Thanksgiving!

Best Potato and Sweet Potato Side Dish Recipes

Mashed, scalloped, in a casserole or topped with crunchy pecans — there are so many ways to cook potatoes and sweet potatoes. Whether you’re looking for a classic take or a side dish with a twist, we’ve got the perfect recipe for your Thanksgiving meal.

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Creamy Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Rachael's 30-Minute Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Melting Sweet Potatoes

Meet your new favorite one-pan side dish for Thanksgiving and beyond, thanks to the perfect, melt-in-your-mouth texture and overall ease of this sweet potato creation. Simply brown thick slices in a skillet with butter, then finish in the oven to create a syrupy glaze flavored with maple and thyme. Top with toasty marshmallows for a nod to the holiday classic.

Garlicky Potato-Rutabaga Mash

Roasted garlic and mashed rutabaga bump up the flavor of classic mashed potatoes.

Tyler's Scalloped Potato Gratin

Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Bacon

Herbed Broccoli Mashed Potatoes

Broccoli and fresh herbs feel right at home when mashed with creamy potatoes.

Parmesan-Crusted Potatoes

Tender roasted potatoes get an extra boost of flavor and crunch, thanks to a crispy layer of golden Parmesan. We added a simple stir-together paprika aioli for dipping, but these flavorful little nuggets are equally delicious on their own. Serve them as a fun appetizer or as a side dish.

Tyler's Whipped Sweet Potatoes and Bananas with Honey

Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes

These super creamy mashed potatoes could not be any easier &mdash no dicing and no draining, and you can even make them ahead. Just set them on the warm setting in your Instant Pot so they are nice and hot when you're ready to sit down.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Honey and Cinnamon

Giada's Baked Mashed Potatoes with Parmesan Cheese and Bread Crumbs

Roasted Garlic–Parmesan Mashed Potatoes

The Neelys' Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes

Aligot-Style Potatoes with Roasted Garlic

Aligot is a comforting dish of cheesy whipped potatoes that originated in the L'Aubrac region of central France. Traditional aligot is made with Tomme d'Auvergne, a creamy young cheese that's nutty and stretchy when melted. We opted for a more accessible combination of shredded Gruyere and fresh mozzarella, resulting in similar texture and flavor. We also added roasted garlic to our version. Top with finely chopped chives and serve right off the stove for a hearty side dish.

Vegan Scalloped Potatoes

Garlic Red Bliss Mash

Marbled Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Mashed Potatoes with Shallots

Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Pecans and Spiced Maple Sauce

Tyler's Mashed Potatoes

Rachael's Autumn Potato Gratin

Tyler's Stuffed Sweet Potatoes with Pecan and Marshmallow Streusel

Smokey Spicy Mashed Potatoes

Classic mashed potatoes are given a smokey and spicy twist with canned chipotle chilies in adobo.

Barefoot Contessa's Sour Cream Mashed Potatoes

Bacon Hasselback Potatoes

Bacon-and-Cheese Smashed Potatoes

Mashed Potatoes

Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes

Mashed Potatoes with Leeks

The Neelys' Old School Sweet Potato Souffle

Sandra's Mixed Roasted Potatoes with Herb Butter

Cheesy Smashed Potatoes

The Ultimate Potato Gratin

Red, White and Blue Mashed Potatoes

Sweet Potato Souffle

Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes

U se buttermilk instead of regular milk to add richness to your mashed potatoes.

Historically, restaurant referred only to places that provided tables where one ate while seated, typically served by a waiter. Following the rise of fast food and take-out restaurants, a retronym for the older "standard" restaurant was created, sit-down restaurant. Most commonly, "sit-down restaurant" refers to a casual-dining restaurant with table service, rather than a fast food restaurant or a diner, where one orders food at a counter. Sit-down restaurants are often further categorized, in North America, as "family-style" or "formal".

In British English, the term restaurant almost always means an eating establishment with table service, so the "sit down" qualification is not usually necessary. Fast food and takeaway (take-out) outlets with counter service are not normally referred to as restaurants. Outside North America, the terms fast casual dining restaurants, family style, and casual dining are not used and distinctions among different kinds of restaurants are often not the same. In France, for example, some restaurants are called "bistros" to indicate a level of casualness or trendiness, though some "bistros" are quite formal in the kind of food they serve and clientele they attract. Others are called "brasseries", a term which indicates hours of service. "Brasseries" may serve food round the clock, whereas "restaurants" usually only serve at set intervals during the day. In Sweden, restaurants of many kinds are called "restauranger", but restaurants attached to bars or cafes are sometimes called "kök", literally "kitchens", and sometimes a bar-restaurant combination is called a "krog", in English a "tavern".

In Dishing It Out: In Search of the Restaurant Experience, [ full citation needed ] Robert Appelbaum argues that all restaurants can be categorized according to a set of social parameters defined as polar opposites: high or low, cheap or dear, familiar or exotic, formal or informal, and so forth. Any restaurant will be relatively high or low in style and price, familiar or exotic in the cuisine it offers to different kinds of customers, and so on. Context is as important as the style and form: a taqueria is a more than familiar sight in Guadalajara, Mexico, but it would be exotic in Albania.

Ethnic Edit

Ethnic restaurants specialize in ethnic or national cuisines. For example, Greek restaurants specialize in Greek cuisine. [1]

Fast food Edit

Fast food restaurants emphasize speed of service. Operations range from small-scale street vendors with food carts to multibillion-dollar corporations like McDonald's and Burger King. Food is ordered not from the table, but from a front counter (or in some cases, using an electronic terminal). Diners typically then carry their own food from the counter to a table of their choosing, and afterward dispose of any waste from their trays. Drive-through and take-out service may also be available. Fast food restaurants are known in the restaurant industry as QSRs or quick-service restaurants. [2]

Fast casual Edit

Fast casual restaurants are primarily chain restaurants, such as Chipotle Mexican Grill and Panera Bread. [3] More of the food is prepared at the restaurant than is the case at fast food chains. Fast casual restaurants usually do not offer full table service, but many offer non-disposable plates and cutlery. The quality of food and prices tend to be higher than those of a conventional fast food restaurant but may be lower than casual dining.

Casual dining Edit

A casual dining restaurant (or sit down restaurant) is a restaurant that serves moderately priced food in a casual atmosphere. Except for buffet-style restaurants, casual dining restaurants typically provide table service. Chain examples include Harvester in the United Kingdom and TGI Fridays in the United States. Casual dining comprises a market segment between fast food establishments and fine dining restaurants. Casual dining restaurants often have a full bar with separate bar staff, a full beer menu and a limited wine menu. They are frequently, but not necessarily, part of a wider chain, particularly in the US. In Italy, such casual restaurants are often called "trattoria", and are usually independently owned and operated.

Premium casual Edit

Premium casual restaurants originate from Western Canada and include chains such as Cactus Club Cafe (Vancouver), Earl's (Alberta), Moxie's (Alberta) and JOEY (Vancouver). Premium casual restaurants are described as upscale casual. Similar to casual dining, they typically feature a dining room section and a lounge section with multiple televisions, and often feature a focus on drinks and "globally inspired" food. They are typically found in shopping districts and city centres. The concept is popular in Canada and brands Earls, JOEY, and Moxie's have started expanding into the United States and the dining concept is becoming more widespread in the UK, with chains such as Café Rouge, Wildwood Kitchen, and others.

Family style Edit

Family style restaurants are a type of casual dining restaurants where food is often served on platters and the diners serve themselves. It can also be used to describe family-friendly diners or casual restaurants.

Fine dining Edit

Fine dining restaurants are full-service restaurants with specific dedicated meal courses. Décor of such restaurants features higher-quality materials, with establishments having certain rules of dining which visitors are generally expected to follow, sometimes including a dress code.

Fine dining establishments are sometimes called white-tablecloth restaurants, because they traditionally featured table service by servers, at tables covered by white tablecloths. The tablecloths came to symbolize the experience. The use of white tablecloths eventually became less fashionable, but the service and upscale ambiance remained. [4] [5]

Most of these establishments can be considered subtypes of fast casual drinking restaurants or casual dining restaurants.

Brasserie and bistro Edit

A brasserie in the United States has evolved from the original French idea of a type of restaurant serving moderately priced hearty meals—French-inspired "comfort foods"—in an unpretentious setting. In the United States, bistros usually have more refined decor, fewer tables, finer foods and higher prices. When used in English, the term bistro usually indicates a continental menu.

Buffet and smörgåsbord Edit

Buffets and smörgåsbord offer patrons a selection of food at a fixed price. Food is served on trays around bars, from which customers with plates serve themselves. The selection can be modest or very extensive, with the more elaborate menus divided into categories such as salad, soup, appetizers, hot entrées, cold entrées, and dessert and fruit. Often the range of cuisine can be eclectic, while other restaurants focus on a specific type, such as home-cooking, Chinese, Indian, or Swedish. The role of the waiter or waitress in this case is relegated to removal of finished plates, and sometimes the ordering and refill of drinks. In Italy, a kind of semi-buffet is featured in either a tavola calda, serving hot foods, and a tavola fredda, which serves cold food. Either can be found in bars and cafes at meal times or in dedicated sites, sometimes with seating and service at a counter.

Café Edit

British cafes and American diners are informal eateries offering a range of hot meals and made-to-order sandwiches or rolls. Coffeehouses or cafés are not full restaurants, because they primarily serve and derive the majority of their revenue from hot drinks. Many cafes are open at breakfast time and will serve full hot breakfasts all day. In some areas, cafes offer outdoor seating. The word comes from the French café.

Cafeteria Edit

A cafeteria is a restaurant serving ready-cooked food arranged behind a food-serving counter. There is no table service. Typically, a patron takes a tray and pushes it along a track in front of the counter. Depending on the establishment, servings may be ordered from attendants, selected as ready-made portions already on plates, or self-serve their own portions. Cafeterias are common in hospitals, corporations and educational institutions. In Italy it's very common and known as "mensa aziendale".

In the UK, a cafeteria may also offer a large selection of hot food and the use of the term cafeteria is deprecated in favour of self-service restaurant. Cafeterias have a wider variety of prepared foods. For example, it may have a variety of roasts (e.g. beef, ham, turkey) ready for carving by a server, as well as other main courses, rather than simple offerings of hamburgers or fried chicken.

Coffee house Edit

Coffeehouses are casual restaurants without table service that emphasize coffee and other beverages typically a limited selection of cold foods such as pastries and perhaps sandwiches are offered as well. Their distinguishing feature is that they allow patrons to relax and socialize on their premises for long periods of time without pressure to leave promptly after eating, and are thus frequently chosen as sites for meetings.

Destination restaurant Edit

A destination restaurant is one that has a strong enough appeal to draw customers from beyond its community. [6] The idea of a destination restaurant originated in France with the Michelin Guide, which rated restaurants as to whether they were worth a special trip or a detour while one travelled by car in France.

Greasy spoon Edit

A greasy spoon is a colloquial term for a British cafe, American diner or other small eatery which tends to serve food at a low cost. Generally fried foods are served, and in the United Kingdom, such places frequently serve all-day breakfasts and strong builder's tea. They are commonly found in working-class areas.

Tabletop cooking Edit

Customers are seated as in a casual dining setting. Food items are prepared by the establishments for cooking on embedded gas stoves, induction cookers, or charcoal grills the customer has control over the heating power of the appliance.

Mongolian barbecue Edit

Despite the name, the Mongolian barbecue form of restaurant is not Mongolian, rather is derived from Taiwan and inspired by Japanese teppanyaki [ citation needed ] . Customers create a bowl from an assortment of ingredients displayed in a buffet fashion. The bowl is then handed to the cook, who stir-fries the food on a large griddle and returns it on a plate or in a bowl to the consumer.

Pub Edit

Traditionally, pubs were primarily drinking establishments with food in a secondary position, whereas many modern pubs rely on food as well, to the point where gastropubs are often known for their high-quality fine dining style pub food and concomitantly high prices. A typical pub has a large selection of beers and ales on tap.

Teppanyaki-style Edit

Many restaurants specializing in Japanese cuisine offer the teppanyaki grill, which is more accurately based on a type of charcoal stove that is called shichirin in Japan. Diners, often in multiple, unrelated parties, sit around the grill while a chef prepares their food orders in front of them. Often the chef is trained in entertaining the guests with special techniques, including cracking a spinning egg in the air, forming a volcano out of differently-sized onion slices, and flipping grilled shrimp pieces into patrons' mouths, in addition to various props. Also referred to as hibachi.

Family-Style or Pre-Plated Meals: Which Are Better?

Have you ever given much thought to which style of serving meals might be best for your kids when it comes to their nutrition and overall health? Growing up, I remember being served food pre-plated. I was always allowed to take more if I was still hungry𠅊nd I usually did! I have continued with this tradition with my own sons who are now ages 15 and 12.

At breakfast and dinner, I pre-plate my kids&apos food with an amount I think each of them will eat based on their age and stage. Sometimes they eat everything on their plates, and sometimes they leave food over. Either way, if they finish their meal and want more of something—whether that&aposs more milk at breakfast or some dessert after dinner—they&aposre allowed to help themselves.

Although I&aposll serve food family-style during holidays and when we entertain friends or family, I find a pre-plated style of feeding typically works best for my family, especially on nights when we can&apost eat dinner together because of conflicting after-school schedules. Sometimes simply heating up a fresh meal that&aposs been pre-plated and refrigerated can streamline the process of getting my kids fed. Fortunately, both of my sons eat pretty well, seldom overeat and are at healthy body weights.

Although pre-plating works for my family, many experts suggest a family-style approach to eating may be a better and more empowering way to feed growing children and prevent obesity𠅎specially the 12 million U.S. preschool children in child care programs. In a study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, University of Illinois researchers surveyed 118 child-care providers who work at Head Start, Adult Care Food Program [CACFP] and other programs about their feeding practices for 2- to 5-year old children. Researchers found that while most who worked at Head Start met the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics&apos recommendation to serve foods and beverages family-style—where children select their own portions and serve themselves—most CACFP (66%) and non-CACFP (93%) providers did not.

In the study, the researchers note that serving meals family-style gives children control over the type and amount of food on their plates and helps them self-regulate their energy intakes they learn to put the right amount of food on their plate based on their internal hunger and satiety signals. They also suggest that a family-style approach to feeding increases the ability of teachers to model healthy eating compared with pre-plated service. And because there&aposs evidence that eating behaviors are already established by school age, the researchers underscore how important it is for adults to help children establish healthy habits during their preschool years.

According to Linda C. Whitehead, Ph.D., Vice President of Education and Development at Bright Horizons Family Solutions, "Family-style dining allows teachers and children to enjoy a meal together in a calm, respectful atmosphere. The table is typically set with child-size plates, cups, and serving bowls. Children are encouraged to not only help set the table, but to serve themselves, pass dishes to their friends and clean up afterwards." When asked about the benefits of family-style dining, Whitehead says, "The relaxed atmosphere encourages rich conversation and social interactions. Children learn appropriate behaviors, such as turn taking and using words, such as "please" and "thank you." It also boosts self-confidence and independence, teaches children mathematical concepts, such as less, more, half, and full and builds fine motor skills."

In their book, Fearless Feeding, Maryann Jacobsen and Jill Castle𠅋oth registered dietitians—say that family-style feeding is an authoritative and effective way to help children eat better. As stated in their book, "Family-style meals not only shift the control to your child, but also capitalize on skill development and success."

To help serve kids family-style, the authors recommend preparing foods in appropriate serving sizes and placing them on platters or in bowls cutting foods like chicken breasts into 3-ounce portions offering small potatoes using 8-ounce glasses for milk and using half-cup serving spoons to dish out grains, vegetables and fruits. The authors also discourage parents from using the meal table to discuss topics related to nutrition, eating, and food. They say, "Frankly, it can feel like too much pressure, especially if your child is picky or overweight." They recommend keeping conversation topics light, fun, and entertaining so that the meal table can be a place your children enjoy. Sounds great to me!

If there&aposs any real downside to making family meals family-style, it might be the inevitable mess kids make when serving themselves. We all know how that goes! Whitehead suggests keeping the atmosphere positive and to see spills and messes as learning opportunities rather than frustrations. "Keeping paper towels close at hand and allowing children to help clean up never hurts," she says.

Do you feed your kids family-style? If not, will you give it a try?

Benefits of Family Style Service vs Plated Meals

There are a number of different styles of service that caterers can provide, including individually plated meals, which is the kind of table service you’d typically receive from a waiter or waitress in most restaurants. Others provide buffet service, in which a table or tables is set up with large servings of food, and guests serve themselves and then bring their plates to another table to dine. In addition, many caterers provide family-style service, which is a cross between individually plated meals and buffet service. In family-style service a wait staff delivers large platters of food to each table of guests, and each guest serves him or herself.

Service When you are choosing among wedding catering packages, you might consider family-style service as an alternative to individually plated meals. Family style dining is preferable to many because it streamlines the way food is served to you. Instead of employing a sizeable number of waiters and waitresses, family style service requires a smaller staff, and results in smoother, more efficient delivery of everything from appetizers to the main course and dessert. The dining area is less crowded, and with fewer waiters and waitresses on duty the overall atmosphere tends to be calmer and more enjoyable. You and your guests will feel more relaxed, and your entire dining experience will be enhanced.

Speed Assuming that you would prefer to provide a meal to your guests at your earliest convenience, you will find that family-style service is quick and efficient for a number of reasons. The kitchen will have food prepared and ready to serve once your guests are seated. There’s no need to take each guest’s order and prepare individual meals for each person in attendance. This eliminates problems that can occur when a meal is served to a group, such as errors in orders. Guests will not be forced to wait for their food until staff members can correct a mistake, which facilitates a pleasant, carefree atmosphere for all involved.

Cost Family-style service allows the caterer to provide a variety of dishes in multiple courses at a more affordable price. The caterer can also more easily manage portions with family-style service, which prevents waste that might otherwise occur. This, in turn, saves you money for the total cost of the meal. The caterer will prepare an amount of food that is appropriate to feed all guests, but does not have to provide a whole portion of each dish for everyone in attendance. Instead, portions are determined by the total quantity of food that will be served to guests.

Ask those providing food catering in Los Angeles and most will tell you that family-style services helps provide a warm atmosphere for guests. There’s nothing like sharing delicious food at a table full of diners to help break the ice and make the event more memorable. Family-style dining increases interaction among guests and helps stimulate good feelings and warm conversation. It also allows guests to control the portions that they eat, which adds to a home-like atmosphere at your event. Your guests will be more relaxed, and your event will be an even greater success.

Holiday Dinner – Menu and Recipes

Your holiday dinner is one meal of the year that you usually know what to expect and what you will be eating. Different areas of the United States have different holiday traditions, plus families have their traditional dishes that must be prepared. Honor your family traditions and make the traditional foods expected. Then add a new dish that you would like to introduce.

Holiday Dinner Appetizers Ideas:

Kick off your holiday dinner with some crowd-pleasing appetizers. Lots of appetizer ideas to serve your family and guests while waiting for dinner to be served. Only offer enough appetizers to take the hunger edge off, but not so much that your guests are full by the time they sit down to the main meal.

Serve light appetizers before your dinner, as you do not want to fill up your guests. Also serve appetizers that can be made ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Cheese Fondue
Fondue, an ancient Swiss dish, is very easy to prepare, fun to serve, and enjoyable to eat. It is the perfect dish to gather your friends and family to create a sense of intimacy that is informal and memorable.

Cheese Boards – Cheese Plates – Cheese Platters
Entertaining frequently includes some kind of cheese tray, often with fruit or vegetables or meat or a combination of these foods. This is an opportunity to be creative and introduce your guests to some new cheeses. It is great fun!

Gourmet Hot Crab Dip or East Street Crab Dip or Hot Crab Appetizer
Anyone of these addictive crab drips will have your guests begging for more!

Pimento Cheese Spread or Topping
This is a variation on the very popular Southern Pimento Cheese Spread. This Pimento Spread has a slight kick without being too much.

Pizza Pub Snack Mix
This is a savory snack mix with influences of pizza flavors using pepperoni bits and cheese crackers. A great salty snack mix to serve while watching a sports game.

Southwest Cowboy Caviar – Texas Caviar
This is a flavor bursting blend of vegetables and beans that makes a nutritious addition to a party as a appetizer chip dip (a lot like salsa). What is also great about this dish, is that you can adjust the ingredients to your family’s taste. Either way you served this delicious Southwest Cowboy Caviar, it is delicious and sure to please your family or guests. Makes a great vegetarian and vegan dish, as it is gluten-free, nut-free, and dairy free.

Tarragon-Rice Stuffed Mushrooms
This is a great low fat and low calorie appetizer to serve your guests.

Vegetable Platter
Platter of assorted cut-up fresh vegetables, cheeses, and meats plus Dill Dip and/or Roasted Jalapeno Dip. This is so easy to make and everyone likes to “munch” on these.

Soup Course Ideas – Optional Course:

I like to serve a soup course to start the dinner off. Serve a light soup and serve small amounts (more appetizer size). Just enough to delight the taste palates of your guests and family. Lot more delicious Soup Recipes to choose from:

Curried Butternut Squash Soup
This is one of my family’s favorite soup recipes. I have also served this delightful and interesting soup for dinner parties.

Tomato-Basil Crab Bisque
This soup is so good! This is one of the best bisque that I have tasted.

Carrot Vichyssoise
This recipe originally was made at the Four Season’s restaurant in New York. So good!

Old Fashion Oyster Stew
I first tasted this wonderful oyster stew when I was a teenager (and that was a while ago), and I have been a oyster stew lover ever since. This recipe is so easy to make and so delicious!

Holiday Dinner Main Entree – The Turkey:

Turn off the TV during your holiday dinner. Focus your attention where it belongs on the delicious food and your family and friends. When the dishes are done, EVERYONE can enjoy the games (or the chat in the other room).

Oven-Roasted Turkey
America’s traditional holiday turkey dinner meat. It is hard to beat the classic oven-roasted turkey with the wonderful aromas that waft from the oven kicking off the anticipation for the holiday meal. Roasting a large turkey is one of easiest ways to accommodate a large crowd of family and friends. Learn how to safely and easily prepare and roast your turkey.

Turkey Hints & Tips:

Turkey Basics
How to purchase, stuff, and roast a turkey. Choosing a fresh or frozen turkey. How to thaw a frozen turkey. How to prepare turkey for stuffing.

Guidelines for Brining Poultry
The secret to juicy chicken breast is simple – brine them before grilling or baking! It is very easy and economical, and requires no special cookware.

Using a Cooking or Meat Thermometer
Have you ever cut into a turkey to see if it has finished cooking? Cooking thermometers take the guesswork out of cooking, as they measures the internal temperature of your cooked meat and poultry to assure that a safe temperature has been reached, harmful bacteria have been destroyed, and your turkey is cook perfectly.

Stuffing or Dressing Choices:

Stuffing or Dressing choices are usually made according to the region you live in and also family favorites. Whether you call it “stuffing” or “dressing,” what’s not to love about turkey stuffing? It is often one of the best parts of a turkey dinner. It is so easy to prepare. Also be creative and add your family’s favorite ingredients.

Turkey Stuffing
This is my family’s favorite Turkey Dressing/Stuffing recipe that I make every year.

Sweet Onion Cornbread Stuffing
This wonderful cornbread stuffing will delight your family and friends. It is easy-to-make and so delicious! Use it as a great stuffing alongside of your poultry dishes. How about stuffing your next Turkey with this delicious cornbread stuffing?

Cornbread Stuffing with Fresh Figs, Morels, and Foie Gras – Learn about Foie Gras
If you really want to be fancy and step up your holiday dinner, try this unusual and wonderful dressing

Advice on Stuffing a Turkey Safely
To stuff or not to stuff — that is the question on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Meat and Poultry Hotline. It is an important question to ask as the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday draws near, because cooking a home-stuffed turkey can be somewhat riskier than cooking one not stuffed. If the stuffing is not cooked and handled properly, food borne illness could occur.

However, with careful preparation and the use of a meat or cooking thermometer to ensure that safe temperatures are reached, consumers can safely enjoy the traditional holiday stuffing inside OR outside the turkey. The USDA has come up with a one-temperature-suits-all for poultry safety: 165 degrees F. For safety and doneness, the Internal Temperature of the turkey should be checked with a meat or cooking thermometer.