When The Family Dinner Project traveled to the University of Charleston, West Virginia in April, Jamie Bero was in the audience. After hearing our message, she signed up to become a member of our Dinner Tonight service and used the built-in family dinner counter to keep track of her meals. Two months later, Jamie was the first winner of our 21 Family Dinners Challenge for West Virginians — she smashed the 21-dinner goal and logged an impressive 58 dinners in 60 days! Here are some of Jamie’s tips and tricks for carving out time to have meaningful meals with her fiance, Dr. Chadrick Lowther.
Jamie Bero and Dr. Chadrick Lowther, of Winfield, West Virginia
To incorporate more fresh fruits and vegetables into meals.
«Our crazy, busy schedules!» Jamie and Chadrick both have demanding careers. Jamie is the Director of Student Affairs at the University of Charleston School of Pharmacy, as well as being the University’s head cheerleading coach and the College Chapter Director to the Delta Zeta sorority chapter at Marshall University. Chadrick is a Clinical Pharmacy Specialist in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit at CAMC Memorial Hospital and spends long hours both in person at the hospital and on call for his expertise, as well as helping Jamie’s cheerleading team with conditioning workouts. They’re also both heavily involved in the Southern West Virginia Region of the Sports Car Club of America, so there’s little time left for cooking and eating together!
Jamie swears by planning ahead and staying in constant communication about their schedules so that she and Chadrick can make family dinners work — and so she can make sure to have those fresh vegetables and fruits on hand to serve. «I think about the next night’s dinner the day before to make sure that whatever we need is in stock or defrosted,» she says. But more importantly, Jamie stresses, making family dinners happen should be fun. «It doesn’t have to be fancy…let dinner be something you enjoy!»
Quick meals with bold flavors are a staple in Jamie’s kitchen. She and Chadrick enjoy making Zingy Turkey Burgers, spiced up with the addition of jalapenos, hot sauce, and feta cheese; or her signature dish, Bachelorette Chicken with BLT Salad. You can watch Jamie make their household favorite in this video filmed with TFDP friend Chef April Hamilton!
Jamie and Chadrick were already interested in prioritizing family dinners when they connected with The Family Dinner Project, but now they’re even more aware of the importance of building a strong family dinner foundation from the beginning. They make a point of checking in about schedules and waiting for one another to start dinner whenever possible — «Chadrick is a real trooper,» Jamie jokes.
«We’re fortunate to be able to share dinner together almost every night. I think it is something that was ingrained into to us from both of our families growing up: even with busy schedules of school activities, neither of us remember many nights where our families did not sit down for dinner together (for me my mother, father and three siblings and for Chadrick his parents and one sibling).»
Are you a couple trying to figure out how to start your family dinner routine? Check out our tips and articles especially for couples in our Family Starts With Two section.
The Best Part:
Both members of the family say that dinnertime is important to their mental well-being. Jamie says catching up with each other over dinner is a nice way for her to relax after a busy day, and Chadrick calls their meals together «necessary downtime.»
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