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
- 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
- do poorly in school.
- become overweight.
- develop an eating disorder.
- try cigarettes.
- drink alcohol.
- try marijuana.
- use drugs.
Making Time for Family
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
- Set a family meal goal. Twice per week, perhaps? And build from
- 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
- 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
- Keep mealtime simple and easy. Dinner during the week should be
nutritious, but quick. Save the complicated meals for when you have
- Pre-cook chicken, beef, pasta, rice and other foods when
possible. Then freeze or refrigerate for quick, late night
- Share the responsibility. Let one person shop, another cook and
- 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
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