Gathering around the table

A family gathers around the table to share a healthy meal. Cooking and eating together is a great way to maintain healthy eating habits and create lasting memories.

Have work, school, sports, and other activities made family meals a distant memory? It can be challenging to get everyone around the table at meal time. But it’s worth it. Studies show family meals offer important health and wellness benefits for children.

September is National Family Meals Month. This month, try to plan at least one family meal each week. Here are a few tips to help make that easier: 

  1. Plan ahead. Shop for the week so you’re ready to get started as soon as you get home. Creating menus on the fly can be stressful and lead to less-than-healthy meals. Check out these healthy, family-friendly recipes for inspiration.
  2. Short on time? Look around the supermarket for ingredients like chopped veggies or pre-made side dishes to cut down on meal prep.
  3. Low and slow. Use a slow cooker or crockpot for a meal that’s ready when you get home. EatingWell has some great options to get you started. There are also healthy options for the Instant Pot and pressure cookers to help you prep a meal during the day.
  4. Cook once; eat twice. Double up your recipe for a second helping of family togetherness. Plus, everyone loves leftovers.
  5. Make your own. Dishes like mini pizzas or tacos save on prep time and turn dinner into a group activity. Gather ingredients and let everyone create.
  6. Dinner time too hectic? Weekends can be a great time for family breakfast or lunch. These recipes from CookingLight can help you step up family breakfasts.
  7. Focus on family. Turn off all devices and have a family conversation. Meal time is perfect for catching up on everyone’s day and making each family member feel valued.

Did you know?

Children are less likely to smoke, use marijuana, or drink alcohol when they eat at least three family meals each week. They’re also more likely to have better grades, eat healthier, and have less stress. Source: https://www.acpeds.org/the-college-speaks/position-statements/parenting-issues/the-benefits-of-the-family-table

Additional sources: https://www.fmi.org/family-meals-month/about, https://www.choosemyplate.gov/myplate-mywins-tips-making-family-meals