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Get the Family Back to the Kitchen Table

Get the Family Back to the Kitchen Table

With after-school sports and activities, and long work days, it's no wonder few families eat together. Yet studies show that when families do eat together, they tend to eat healthier: more fruits and vegetables - and fewer empty calorie foods. When younger children eat dinner with their families, they are less likely to become overweight than other kids.

The Benefits of Family Meals

  • Everyone eats healthier.
  • Parents and kids will strengthen the family bond.
  • Parents are more likely to hear about a potential problem.
  • Kids will feel like their parents are proud of them.
  • There will be less stress and tension at home.
  • Positive food memories created during childhood are cherished for life.

Kids benefit from a family meal way beyond the time the last clean dish is put away.
Kids are less likely to:

  • do poorly in school.
  • become overweight.
  • develop an eating disorder.
  • try cigarettes.
  • drink alcohol.
  • try marijuana.
  • use drugs.

Making Time for Family Meals

Even the simplest meals - like cereal and fruit - qualify as family meals. The goal is to get everyone to the dining room table and to spend quality time together. Here are tips to pull it off:

  • Set a family meal goal. Twice per week, perhaps? And build from there.
  • Keep it simple. Family meals don't have to be elaborate. Add fruit, salads and vegetables to meals where you can. Focus on familiar favorites, like fajitas and pizza.
  • Be flexible with the time of meals. If the kids have after school activities, plan a late dinner or have breakfast together instead. Dinner doesn't have to always be on the kitchen table. Spread out a blanket at the football field or have a tailgater in your car.
  • Pick up take-out, order pizza or Chinese food for delivery, or eat out. It still counts as quality time spent together.
  • Keep ingredients for healthful meals on hand, including plenty of fresh, frozen and canned fruits and vegetables.
  • Get kids involved. Good kitchen helpers usually make good food tasters. Children learn best by doing. They also learn by watching their parents eat healthy.
  • Let every eater plan a menu. Rotate meal planning to satisfy everyone's taste buds and give everyone a chance to express themselves.
  • Keep mealtime simple and easy. Dinner during the week should be nutritious, but quick. Save the complicated meals for when you have more time.
  • Pre-cook chicken, beef, pasta, rice and other foods when possible. Then freeze or refrigerate for quick, late night meals.
  • Share the responsibility. Let one person shop, another cook and another clean-up.
  • Stock your pantry and freezer with quick-to-fix family favorites to dish up anytime, anywhere.
  • Minimize distractions. Turn off cell phones and the T.V. This is family time. Time to listen to each other, sharing stories and strengthen the family connection.
  • Make it enjoyable. Leave the serious discussions for another time. Family meals are for nourishment, communication, comfort and support.

Here are some recipes from our Recipe Corner for you to try. Each of these recipes is easy to prepare and can be made in 20 minutes or less:

Avacado and Chicken Tortas

Fish Tacos with Bell Pepper Slaw

Greek Pita Flatbread with Watermelon

Mandarin Chicken Salad

Stir-Fried Beef and Romaine Lettuce

Tomato and Tortellini Toss

Salade Nicoise Sandwiches


Dianne said...
October 5, 2012 02:17

I love it. Good article.


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