McDonald’s Family Time Getaway

This is a sponsored post from BlogHer and McDonald’s.

A couple of months ago I got an invitation from McDonald’s.

At first I was hoping beyond all hope that the invitation was to be a part of some sort of Double Cheeseburger Taste Test Committee (oh, my love for the Mickey D’s double cheeseburger is deep, and it is true), but alas, that was not the case. They were having a Family Time Getaway weekend for some bloggers and their families, and they asked me to be a part of it.

Honestly? I initially had mixed reactions about going. I mean, everybody knows the health concerns that go along with kids and fast food. Everybody knows the health concerns that go along with grown-ups and fast food. And I wasn’t really that interested in dragging my family all the way to Chicago so that I could be a part of what I assumed would be a never-ending focus group. But in the end, my relational side won out. There would be new and interesting people there (I am, as a general rule, a sucker for people), and I’d get to travel to one of my favorite cities with my husband and my son.

As it turned out, it was an absolutely delightful trip. The McDonald’s folks did have some meetings and activities set up for us, but they also gave us time to just hang out and be a family. I can’t even tell you how great that was. In fact, the second day we were there they planned a scavenger hunt on the grounds of the hotel, and our little family of three had the best time. The weather was absolutely gorgeous (I did not get the impressions that Chicagoans are, as a rule, familiar with the same level of humidity that we experience here in the Deep South), and I loved being able to “help” my fellas find the objects on the list while I took lots of pictures of trees.

Trees are my favorite, you know.

It was also great to get some behind-the-scenes perspective from the McDonald’s folks. They were candid, open, warm – and absolutely no topic was off limits. The scope of what they do is absolutely mind-boggling, and they are so passionate about it. What surprised me the most – and I don’t mean to sound like I was Sally Cynical before we met with them, but maybe I was just a little bit – is how much they genuinely care about the kids that they serve and how deeply committed they are to being a help to parents in terms of providing a nutritious alternative to a home-cooked meal (notice that I said alternative – I didn’t hear anybody at McDonald’s headquarters advocating feeding kids fast food five days a week, and I think we can all agree that children need variety in their diets and need to be exposed to a wide range of foods). They would be the first to tell you that they’re not perfect, but they would also tell you – and I would agree – that they’re working hard every single day to get better. As a mama, it was so encouraging to see that side of things.

And as for the Double Cheeseburger Taste Testing, I’m sad to say that it didn’t happen. We did get to sample the oatmeal that they’re testing (it was loaded with fruit, and I was an immediate fan) as well as Egg McMuffins (seriously? did y’all know that they’re made with real eggs? that can be cooked however you’d like them? I HAD NO IDEA). My little man was so taken with the Egg McMuffin that he raised his hand and said, “THIS IS THE MOST DELICIOUS EGG MCMUFFIN THAT I HAVE EVER HAD!”

It was also the first Egg McMuffin he’d ever had. But I think we all know that he’s never really been lacking in enthusiasm.

But here was the biggest thing with me, and it had absolutely nothing to do with the food. The day we were scheduled to leave Chicago, a huge thunderstorm rolled into town. We were waiting in the hotel lobby for our ride to the airport, and all the McDonald’s folks were gone (it was late in the afternoon, and our last official activity that day was at lunch). I was just about to check our flight status on the computer in the lobby, and two of the girls who work with McDonald’s – Heather and Maggie – came running through the lobby doors.

One of them rushed up to me and said, “Are you okay? Is your flight delayed? We were almost home, but when we saw how bad the weather was we thought we’d better come back and check on you!”

Sure enough, our flight was delayed – then cancelled altogether – and they spent the next three hours working to get us home. We ended up having to stay an extra night at the hotel, and they took such unbelievably good care of us. I will never forget how they went out of their way to do that, and it spoke volumes to me about the way McDonald’s does business.


I’m tickled that I get to give away a McDonald’s Family Prize Pack in conjunction with the “Family Time, Happy Time” program. The prize pack includes McDonald’s and AMC gift cards, games, a fleece blanket and other items that are perfect for a fun outing with your family, and the retail value is $100. So if you’d like to be entered to win, all you have to do is answer this question:

What’s your absolute favorite meal to eat for family dinner? Is it something you get from a restaurant? Or is it more of a home-cooked affair?

By the way, our favorite family dinner is country fried steak, mashed potatoes, butterbeans, rolls and homemade chocolate pudding.

We’re terribly sophisticated.

In all seriousness, be sure to visit the other bloggers who are participating in this giveaway (they’re listed over on the special offers page. And by all means feel free to check out the official rules. This sweepstakes runs from 7/27 until 8/10.

Good luck, everybody – and if you have any questions about what we did or what I learned on the trip, feel free to ask. I’ll do my best to answer!

This giveaway is now closed.

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  1. Our fav dish is an indian (goan actually) dish called sorpatel! it’s delicious, but it’s more or a christmas and easter sorta meal!

  2. We all love to have pasta together, usually out at a restaurant (I’m not a very good cook…LOL!).

  3. Nothing beats Thanksgiving dinner. It’s my favorite meal of the year!I love cooking it and eating with my family. No presents, just good food and company. What could be better?

  4. Mary Jacobowitz says:

    It has to be tacos for the favorite meal with rice.

  5. Favorite meal … hmmm, something someone else cooked. :) No, seriously … I do love having my family sitting around the dinner table together. It’s hard to get 6 people to agree on any meal … but spaghetti is usually a crowd pleaser.

  6. Our favorite family meal is taco salad – everyone gets to pick their toppings and its super easy for Mom to make!

  7. I love food so this one is tough!!! I like when my husband cooks. Those nights rock!

  8. My favorite thing to cook is a lasagna but since getting pregnant, I just haven’t had the energy to throw one together

  9. I love homemade pizza. The kids really get into helping create it and then hang out by the oven door the entire 20 minutes it takes to cook just watching the magic of what they have created. The aroma that fills my house is incredible!

  10. I love meals that involve the grill. I think everything taste better grilled. So steak, hamburgers, grilled chicken, etc. Plus, the grill usually means the hubs is helping. haha.

  11. My favorite is homemade pizza. Always fun to let the boys help to top them and then eat up the delicious treat.

  12. Chicken souvlaki (shish-ka-bob), rice w/ sauted onions, and roasted broccoli. Yummmmm

  13. Spaghetti with my homemade meatballs and sauce !!!!!!!

  14. I love anything the kids can get involved with me in making as a family ! Our family loves to make homemade pizza. We have different toppings on plates and each child helps make their own individual pizza . They help with the dough and everything. The kids love the anticipation of the pizza cooking ! It is by far a great way to spend an hour as a family !!!!!

  15. Kabobs on the grill! My husband fixes them and they are yummy!

  16. We like to get Subway and go to the park and eat it. Simple but fun!

  17. We love to eat pizza together. Honestly it’s the only thing that all five of us truly love! We range in age from 47 to 14 months so you’d think that mac-n-cheese or nuggets might be included in the ‘we all like it’ category but nope…just cheese pizza. Thanks for the chance!

  18. Charity S. says:

    I love cooking my baked pork chops & cinnamon apples. It’s such a big hit with my family.

  19. Homemade Lasagna! The kids love it ! I don’t make it too often but when I do I swear they know and can smell it miles away!


  21. We LOVE the appetizer meal…lots of things to snack on….many little snacky things from sweet to savory…

    We call it ‘tapas’ to be fancy because ‘mini tacos’ doesn’t have that flair….

    We are hoping that the runner up prize will be an ‘edible arrangement’ because we are just that enthusiastic…


  22. says:

    chicken/pasta dishes, beef and chicken stir fry, meatloaf — all of these i make at home.

  23. Mary R Snyder says:

    I’m a grilled chicken and oven fried potato girl!!

  24. Rachel S says:

    Our favorite family meal is Chicken and Dumplings with green beans and a roll. yum!

  25. Our favorite meal is BBQ Chicken Nachos!! YUM

  26. Without a doubt, jambalaya with french bread, sweet tea to drink, and bread pudding for dessert!

  27. Our favorite family meal happens almost every Friday night and it is homemade pizza. My husband makes a yummy crust and the rest of us put the sauce and toppings on!

  28. We love chicken wraps as our family dinner. The kids are young & sometimes it can get messy, but they love there & there aren’t that many things that they will tell you they love to eat (besides cookies)

  29. My famiy’s favorite is homemade chicken pot pie!

  30. We love a homemade meal of meatloaf, mashed potatoes, & peas.

  31. Meatloaf, homemade mashed potatoes, fried okra, lima beans and corn bread. It doesn’t get much better than that!

  32. I think Shake & Bake Pork Chops would have to be our favorite family meal…or could it be the Shepherds Pie…no, I think it just might be steak on the grill…hmmm…I need to go think about this some more! Too many choices, but I think it comes down to anything made at home!

  33. We love breakfast — right now our favorite is waffles + fresh blueberries (warmed in the microwave) + syrup!

  34. J. Johnson says:

    We have several – one is something my son calls “yellow spaghetti,” another is sausage gravy and biscuits, and yet another is fried potatos and hot dogs. Obviously we like low-cal cooking!

  35. We are sandwich people. And not really sandwiches made at home. We like the kind you buy in a restaurant!

  36. On Friday nights we have a “pizza picnic.” We make homemade pizza and then eat it while sitting on blankets in the den and watching a movie.

  37. Pizza!

  38. Crystal says:

    Our favorite meal is a local mexican place. We go every Friday night. I might be able to live off of chips, salsa, guac and queso alone.

  39. At this particular moment, my kids would say hamburgers from the grill.( had them tonight, in fact) My husband and I would vote for Shrimp Diablo.

  40. Connie Heggie says:

    My absolute favorite meal is grilled ribeye steak, broccoli casserole, hashbrown casserole, baked pineapple casserole, macaroni and cheese and Sister Schuster Rolls! ! !

  41. We love good old fashioned spaghetti and meatballs. Thick, crispy,toasted garlic bread…………and we’re good!!

  42. My fave family meal is prepared by my mom. Chicken spaghetti, green bean bundles, corn casserole, italian cream cake.

  43. Mary Helen says:

    Our favorite meal is pot roast with potatoes, carrots and lots of onions, topped with brown gravy! Comfort food at the max!

  44. Michelle says:

    Comfort food: meatloaf, mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, rolls, etc.

  45. We love pizza on homemade whole wheat crust, with Canadian Bacon and pinapple on half, and pepperoni and green chilies on the other half. So easy and simple and everyone is so happy with it.

  46. My favorite family meal is a pork tenderloin, smashed potatoes and whatever other vegetable I come up with! So yummy!!!

  47. Mmmm.. steak, salad, potato, bread and desert!

  48. No one else in the family is into this, but I would just like a giant bowl of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, because I’m classy like that.

  49. Our favorite meal is grilled porkchops and homemade macaroni and cheese with green beans!

  50. I think our favorite meal is poppyseed chicken with corn and strawberries.

  51. My new favorite to make is a sloppy joe casserole. Basically it is sloppy joe mixed up and put in an 8 x 8 pan and then mix up a Jiffy corn muffin mix and spread it over the top. it’s yummy!

  52. I think our family’s fave meal would be spaghetti, but maybe that’s just because momma likes the wine & bread that usually go with it!

  53. Our favorite dish is Lasagna.

  54. We’re suckers for anything on the grill. Steaks, chicken, burgers, you name it! This also means my husband is doing the cooking…yes!!

  55. Our favorite family meal is homemade chicken cordon bleu, roasted red rosemary potatoes and a veggie (usually asparagus).
    Thank you!

  56. Our favorite dinner is pot roast.

  57. we have homemade pizza every thursday night. we all love it–i’ve even been figuring out how to make our own deep-dish pizza. it is one of our favorite family meals for sure…

  58. Melissa says:

    Our family favorite is spaghetti with home made meatballs.

  59. Mini- Thanksgiving, I get a turkey breast from the butcher and make mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans and stuffing. Complete comfort food and the next night, we use the leftovers for open faced turkey sandwiches.

  60. Shrimp and Grits!

  61. We love Thanksgiving dinner. So much that I get requests to make turkey and the trimmings for other holidays, even in the summer.

    There’s nothing like pumpkin pie on the 4th of July!!!!

  62. we love going to a restuarant out here called Islands. It has amazing burgers and fries. We can’t go a lot because it gets pricey for a family of four, but we’ll go to celebrate something.

  63. Our favorite meal is tacos! Some like crunchy, some like soft, and the variation of toppings is different for everyone. It is the one meal guaranteed to please the ENTIRE family, LOL:)

  64. Homemade pizza, hands down! We roll the crust out together and put all the toppings on the counter so my kids can put whatever they want on their pieces of pizza. It’s a fun family project!

  65. grilled porkchop
    mashed potatoes
    green beans
    sweet tea
    yeast rolls


  66. Not very original – spaghetti, tossed salad, garlic bread. Date cake for dessert!

  67. I love a good home cooked meal…though my boys favorite meal spaghetti and meatballs–with store bought meatballs. My favorite? I can’t decide! Crusted tiliapa with fruit salsa? Meatloaf and baked potatoes? A good pot roast? Man, I’m making myself hungry!

  68. Our favorite meal is baked chicken, english peas, cheap mac and cheese, and warm chocolate chip cookies.

  69. We love to grill – chicken, hamburgers, hotdogs, throw some slaw and potato salad together, and homemade ice cream for dessert!

  70. Our favorite meal is poppyseed chicken, rice casserole and green beans. YUM-O!

  71. pasta for me. steak for them.

  72. Either chicken enchiladas with a side of black beans or chicken pie with broccoli and fruit on the side – both at home. (If you ask my children, they’d say Cantina 76 is their favorite meal.)

  73. Our favorite meal is pork chops, corn on the cob, and green beans. Black Cherries for dessert!

  74. I would have to say my chicken alfredo. I always make something green on the side and homemade garlic bread, and it is ALWAYS a hit!

  75. Shawna OBrien says:

    Our favorite meal is homemade Fajitas with rice.

  76. Friday Night = Pizza!

  77. My personal fav meal is a medium rare filet mignon with all the fixings, but our family’s favorite meal to have together would have to be spaghetti, caeser salad, and garlic bread.

  78. Our favorite family meal is my daddy’s spaghetti. Yummy goodness!

    (And when I say “my daddy’s spaghetti” it is one of the few times that my southern accent reappears since we’ve been in CO for 10 years now. I love saying it almost as much as eating it. :) )

  79. Our favorite eat in dinner is “stuff in a tortilla”. It could be chicken, ground or shredded beef, beans, rice, whatever, the kids love getting to build their own dinners.

    Our favorite out to eat dinner is Denny’s on Tuesday or Saturday when our FOUR children all eat free! :) Yup, we’re classy like that.

  80. My 4 year old thinks the only food he can eat in the world are chicken nuggets and Mickey D’s are his fav. Mom and Dad don’t mind eating there too much either. :)

  81. Homemade meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and green peas!

  82. Ours has to be Mexican lasagna – layers of tortillas, spicy beef and beans, Rotel, and cheese, topped with…wait for it…cream of mushroom soup. Sounds weird but it’s one thing the whole family loves!

  83. Our favorite meal is boiled crawfish with all the trimmings!

  84. deanna f. says:

    Our favorite home-cooked dinner is grilled pork tenderloin with scalloped potatoes, green beans, and yeast rolls.

    Our favorite going-out dinner is (or at least it has been recently) our local mexican restaurant where my son can practically DRINK the salsa and queso dip. Oh, and he’s only 4 years old. :)

  85. Your meal sounds great. Meatloaf is a fave at our house

  86. Brisket tacos

  87. Our favorite meal is homemeade lasagna, salad, and bread. And of course a great dessert at the end!

  88. We love Steak & baked Pot. from home…

  89. Barbara says:

    My family’s favorite meal is grilled chicken on a big salad — seriously. I have 9 and 18 yr old boys and they get so excited when we have this. My favorite is turkey, mashed potatos with gravy, dressing patties (old family recipe) and the trimmings.

  90. Oven-fried chicken, macaroni & cheese and green beans are a favorite.

    As a resident of a suburb near the McDonalds campus, I’m so glad you had a good time in our area.

  91. Kathryn says:

    I am so hungry after reading some of these entries! I’d have to say the best family meal is spaghetti with meat sauce.

  92. Lately, our favorite meal is tacos. MR can chop lettuce and tomatoes while I brown the ground beef. Plus, Chan (a picky eater)LOVES them.

  93. London broil on the grill with asparagus and baked potatoes!

  94. Robin M. says:

    Lasagna, salad, garlic bread and sweet tea :)

  95. I love making a big batch of veggie lasagna and eating it with a parmesan garlic bread. Delicious family meal!

  96. Breakfast, especially my husbands homemade biscuits.

  97. Our favorite meal is homemade pizza. I make up the crust and sauce (all homemade!) and I set out a variety of toppings. Then I let the kids create their masterpieces. All five get to create exactly the pizza they want to their liking. Everyone is happy!

  98. My family loves pizza of any kind!! I enjoy eating out at an italian place but if we are talking family then it would be pizza at home!!

  99. Our favorite meal? would have to be breakfast actually…fried bacon, scrambled eggs, pancakes and my kids favorite- chocolate chip pancakes. This has become a Saturday tradition where we laze around and take our time, just spending time with each other. (and the bacon…oh, the bacon!)

  100. Spaghetti — it’s easy to fix, there’s (usually) no whining & everyone eats it. As much as it’s my favorite to eat as a family, it ranks towards the bottom as far as cleaning up. Maybe if we could clean it up as a family…