In the hustle and bustle of raising a family, we are often on the go from the time the children get on the bus until we read them a story and tuck them in at night. The family dinner is one part of the day that is easily forgotten and sometimes not a priority. Often we are grabbing a slice of pizza in between music lessons and sports practice or packing a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for the car.
In other cases, parents are working late and it is not feasible for 4 or 5 family members to sit down together to eat at home. But I encourage you to prioritize even two or three days a week in which you plan a meal and everyone can look forward to this quality time. When time is limited, try to plan to have leftovers on a day when there is limited time to cook. Or use a slow cooker – you can prep the meal before work and it will be ready when everyone is home in the evening.
A study in pediatrics showed that eating at least three family meals together each week is associated with healthier kids. Family meals prevent excessive weight gain in kids and help teach children about healthy food choices. Try to always offer a new vegetable at dinner time. Children may try foods when they see adults eating them, and if you offer these foods often, it is more likely that kids will try them. In addition, family meals help to improve a child’s social-emotional health. Meal time is a great time for families to discuss their day and tell stories. Parents can ask specific questions to keep the conversations going.
So as kids are back to their school routine, we hope you can make family meals a part of your routine.