In today’s busy world, family meals can seem like a thing of the past. But the family that eats together stays healthy together. In one study, children who regularly ate with their families consumed more fruits and vegetables and drank fewer soft drinks than their peers who didn’t eat with their families. They were also less likely to have eating disorders.
So how do you get everyone to the table for a healthy meal? It just takes a little planning.
Are family schedules at odds? Sit down and figure out if schedules can be fine-tuned to accommodate a family meal. Aim for at least a couple of family dinners a week or even weekend breakfasts. Also, plan meals that can be made in advance or that require less cooking time. Serve pasta and sauce, rice and beans or casseroles—one-dish meals that free you up from having to prepare side dishes.
When planning your meals, ask family members for input—a child will be more enthusiastic about the meal if it’s his or her favorite.
Do you have little ones getting under your feet in the kitchen? Put them to work. Preschoolers or elementary-school-age children can be beverage pourers, table-setters or napkin-folders, giving you more time to cook.
And don’t complain about cooking. Staying upbeat and positive about making the meal will keep your kids happy about partaking in this family ritual.