Memory-making meals with family mark back to school

Family Features

Most families are looking for ways to spend more time together, but managing the family schedule can be a daunting task, especially with the additions of nightly homework and extracurricular activities a new school year brings.

Hectic weeknight schedules during back-to-school season don’t need to get in the way of quality time spent around the dinner table with these simple tips for enjoying dinner together.

Designate a time. Write dinner time on a calendar in the kitchen so every family member is aware of this special time and can look forward to sitting down together. Even if your schedule is overwhelming, pick a specific day each week and block out time to have a meal as a family.

Rely on foods rooted in tradition. Experimenting with recipes can add quick and easy new favorites to the family meal repertoire, such as Spaghetti and Turkey Meatballs, a modern twist on the nostalgic family classic. As food trends come and go, Rag π continues to be a culinary staple for family meals. For 80 years, Rag π has gathered families at the table to celebrate the tradition of creating memories around a mouthwatering meal. Whether that’s a new take on ravioli or a family-favorite pasta dish, families can count on serving up delicious pasta sauces rich with bold, Italian flavors and vine-ripened tomatoes.

Create rituals. To build a tradition in the kitchen, try involving the whole family by showing your kids age-appropriate ways to contribute to their favorite meal. Let them measure ingredients to create better-for-you turkey meatballs, carry ingredients from one place to another, mix and pour ingredients, and set the table. Creating a ritual of cooking a favorite back-to-school meal with your kids is a good way to help them build healthy habits and skills that will last a lifetime.

Step away from your cellphone. Designate dinnertime as a no-cellphone zone. Leave your mobile devices in another room to allow for time to reconnect with your loved ones and be fully present.

Create fun dinner-table topics. Making the table a fun place to be is the best strategy for getting your family to dinner and keeping them at the table longer. Make a game out of sharing the best parts of your day with each other. This can be a great way to laugh together as well as an opportunity to offer much-needed advice and support.

Find more easy recipes to bring the family together during the busy back-to-school season and throughout the year at RAGU.com or on Facebook.

Spaghetti and Turkey Meatballs

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 15 minutes

Servings: 5

10 ounces spaghetti

1 pound (85 percent lean) ground turkey

1/2 cup Italian-seasoned, dry bread crumbs

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus additional (optional)

1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley

1 egg, beaten

3/4 cup water, divided

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

1 jar Rag π Homestyle Thick and Hearty Traditional Sauce

Cook pasta as directed on package, omitting salt; keep warm.

Combine turkey, bread crumbs, Parmesan, parsley, egg, 1/4 cup water and salt. Shape mixture into 25 (11/4-inch) meatballs.

In large, nonstick saute pan on medium heat, heat olive oil, garlic and crushed red pepper. Add sauce and remaining water once garlic is golden.

Arrange meatballs in sauce; cover and cook 10 minutes, or until cooked through (165 F), stirring occasionally. Serve with cooked spaghetti and additional Parmesan, if desired.

Tip: Use a small ice cream scoop or melon baller to easily make evenly sized meatballs.

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