Benefits: Juggling jobs, kids and the demands of a busy, modern life often comes at the expense of family mealtime at home. Even though life never seems to slow down, now is the perfect time to renew your commitment to creating and serving meals at home that nourish your kid’s brains and help them flourish.
Not only is time together around the table an opportunity to catch up and reconnect, numerous studies provide evidence of the positive, lifelong benefits of family meals. Regular family meals are linked to the kinds of outcomes that ensure a bright future for children: higher grades and self esteem, healthier eating habits and less risky behaviors.
For example – kids and teens who share meals with their families three or more times per week are significantly less likely to be overweight, more likely to eat healthy foods and less likely to have eating disorders. Children who grow up sharing family meals are more likely to exhibit positive social behavior as adults, such as sharing, fairness and respect.
Planning for family mealtime can be tough, but it doesn’t have to be. Take the stress out of planning and preparing family meals with these tips and begin reaping the benefits of more time together around the dinner table.
Commit to having one additional meal with your family each week at home. It doesn’t matter whether it is breakfast lunch or dinner. The benefits are the same. After a month, you may be surprised by how easily your new commitment has become a habit for the entire family.
Rely on the resources available at your local grocery store. Even when you don’t feel like cooking, there are countless meal planning solutions such as pr-prepped fresh ingredients, delicious ready- made entrees and wholesome heat-and-eat dishes.
Make meal planning a family affair. List each family member’s favorite foods in each of the main food groups and see how many combinations you can create. Then ask your children to accompany you to the store to help select the ingredients.
Save time by engaging the whole family in meal preparation. Even the littlest hands can help with tasks like setting the table.
Set a regular meal time so you can plan other activities around it. Sit around the table, turn off the TV and put away phones and electronic devices. Keep the focus on each other.
In a busy home where various activities and demands create divides in time and attention, family meals let everyone come together to honor the family unit. Demonstrating value for family and making this together time a priority helps teach youngsters lessons about the importance of work-life balance that they will carry into adulthood.
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