When was the last time you sat down and ate a meal with your family? If you cannot remember, October is a great time to start having a meal with your family as often as you can.
When families eat together, meals are likely to be more nutritious and kids who eat regularly with their families are less likely to snack on unhealthy foods and are more likely to eat fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Beyond the nutrition and health, family meals provide a valuable opportunity for children and parents to reconnect. Children do better in school, they have fewer behavioral problems and communication improves.
Here are some tips for you and your family that can be used to make family meals happen at your house.
Schedule Family Meals
- As a family look take a calendar and chose times when everyone can be there. Look at what obstacles that gets in in the way of family meals and see if there are ways to work around them.
- Even if it is only once a week, making it a habit to have family meals once a week is a great start and you can work your way up to 2 to 3 times a week.
- Don’t forget that breakfast and lunch are meals as well; there are not rules that say family meals should only happen in the evening.
Prepare Meals Ahead of Time
- Make a shopping list and make time to go to the grocery store so you have foods on hand to create meals.
- Try doing some prep work for meals on weekend to get ready for the week ahead. On a night when you have extra time, cook double and put one meal in the freezer so there is a backup plan for busy nights.
- Remember that a meal at home doesn’t have to be complicated or take a long time to make.
Involve Kids at Family Meals
- Family meals can be fun and it is important to involve kids in them.
- Younger kids can set the table, pour beverages or fold napkins.
- Older kids can get ingredients, wash produce, mix and stir. You could even have your teens and preteens be the cook for the night and you could be their helper in the kitchen.
During mealtime, make your time at the table pleasant and enjoy being together as a family. Remember to keep your interactions positive at the table. Ask your kids about their days and tell them about yours. Give everyone a chance to talk. If you cannot remember the last time you sat down for a family meal, take the time this month to start a family tradition of eating together and eating better.
Contact Sherri Halsell, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service Clay County agent, at (940) 538-5042, for more information.