Family meal time is a wonderful opportunity to share experiences with each other. Children learn a great deal of eating habits, family attitudes and values when you sit down as a family. Meal time is important family time that will help your child in so many ways. Keep it simple and enjoy each other…that is what it is all about!
Surveys show families believe it’s very important to eat together, but between juggling work schedules, kids’ activities and the like, getting a nutritious meal on the table – and getting everyone at the table to eat it – isn’t easy. Here are some tips for serving a quick and nutritious dinner on the run and ways to make the family meal more enjoyable.
- Plan your meals ahead of time. Making a weekly meal plan and keeping your pantry and freezer stocked up can save a lot of time. Create a shopping list and make the time to go to the grocery store on a weekend. It will be much easier to make dinner if you know what you want to make and you have all the ingredients in the house.
- Crock-pot cooking. If you’re working late, check out some healthy crock pot recipes. Or cook a bit more on the weekends and freeze meals in individual portions.
- Make it simple. A healthy home-made meal doesn’t have to take hours. Grilled chicken and veggies only takes half an hour to make and is an enjoyable meal. Plan your meals ahead of time. Making a weekly meal plan and keeping your pantry and freezer stocked up can save a lot of time. Create a shopping list and make the time to go to the grocery store on a weekend. It will be much easier to make dinner if you know what you want to make and you have all the ingredients in the house.
- Engage kids in meal prep for family dinner. Children are more likely to eat better when they help with meal preparation responsibilities like setting the table or stirring a batter. Most kids enjoy being involved in the cooking process. Admire their efforts! Being engage in cooking healthy meals at an early age can improve long term cooking skills and encourage a healthier lifestyle.
- Eat together at the table. It’s easier to talk to each other when you are face to face. During mealtime, focus on each other by turning off the TV, cell phones and even iPods. Keep mealtime a fun time for the family to catch up and share their day. (Parents and older siblings can be a great role model for good eating habits.)
- Keep it fun. Kids can make name cards for their seats.
- Keep meals from lasting too long. If your child gets fussy, let them be excused and take their plate to the sink.
- Introduce one new food item at least 3 times a week.
Betsy Opyt RD, LD/N, CDE
2015 Florida’s Young Mother of the Year
Founder of Betsy’s Best Gourmet Nut & Seed Butters