HUGH_ACHESON

Tweet family dinner ideas with ‘Top Chef’s’ Hugh Acheson

PHOTO: Hugh Acheson of “Top Chef” (shown in 2014) offers ideas for family dinners during a chat on Twitter today.  |  Amy Sussman/AP Images for Jarden Home Brands

Family dinner. We hear over and over how important it is for our kids. They do better in school and eat more nutritiously if they dine with their families, according to a variety of studies.

But pulling it off — given your workload and the kid’s extracurricular activities — isn’t always easy.

Get some insight and meal ideas today (March 19) on Twitter from a panel of experts hosted by Cooking Light (@Cooking_Light) magazine. Hugh Acheson (@hughacheson) of “Top Chef” fame teams up with Cooking Light editor Hunter Lewis (@notesfromacook). Deb Eschmeyer (@letsmove), executive director of Let’s Move, and Amanda Hesser, co-founder/CEO of Food52 (@food52) to share their kitchen wisdom, quick tips and recipes starting at noon EST (that’s 11 a.m. for you all in Chicago). Use the hashtag #FamilyDinner to join the conversation.

Since we’re talking family dinners, I’ll give you a couple of my surefire habits that get family dinners on the table with minimal fuss and preparation.

Gotta have a plan. I say this often because I know it is true. You have to plan out meals so you know you have the ingredients on hand. When time is tight, it’s essential that you know what you will be making. You just don’t have the time to be mapping out a meal most weeknights.

Be organized. Have as much in place as possible. When my son was young and playing lots of sports (the worst time being when spring soccer delays meant he was playing first base for two baseball teams and soccer simultaneously for several weeks), I’d leave the water already in the pan with a lid on it if I was going to make pasta. Veggies for a salad would be cut and put into containers to be assembled the next day (and this way, a child can put it together). Whatever you can do ahead of time, do it.

Keep it simple. I make a killer lasagna that my family loves. But no way was I making that during the week when we were so busy. Too complicated and time-consuming. There’s nothing wrong with grilled cheese sandwiches and a cup of soup. Or an omelet served with toast and cut-up veggies. Save the time-consuming dishes for the weekends.

NOTE: Updated to include Cooking Light’s Twitter handle.