Why Family Meals?
One of my fondest memories as a child is gathering around the table and having family meals. At the time I did not realize how important they were or even cherish them for that matter. The older I get, the more I have come to realize just how special those time truly are to me. It was not about the food, although it was delightful (nothing beats a mom’s cooking), but rather it was about the moments that we shared and the conversations that were exchanged.
How often does your family meet at the table for family meals? With a world full of busy schedules, extracurricular activities, and long commutes the thought of planning around everyone’s schedule can be a little daunting. Experts are constantly encouraging family meals, but the “why” behind the encouraged gesture is not always talked about.
When doing a survey recently, I posed the question “do you do family meals and if so, why is it important to you?”. The consensus is that families do strive for family meals, but schedules certainly are a barrier. This likely does not come as a shock to anyone. I wanted to review some of the many benefits of family meals and some potential tips to help you gather around the table together more often.
What we gain when we do family meals:
- A chance to show a true interest in those that we care about most. We live in a world full of technology, but let’s face it -- sometimes we let electronics get in the way of our precious time with loved ones.
- Meals prepared at home give families a chance to have younger children get involved in the kitchen and also helps teach cooking skills.
- It teaches our kids to learn how to behave at the table. As a parent, you have probably already realized that your little ones (or not so little one anymore) are watching you and will likely follow in your steps in most areas. Teach them the importance of family meals by setting the example.
- It encourages our picky eaters to be more open to trying new foods. The more a family sits down together and eats, the higher the chance your little one will be more open to trying new and healthy foods.
- Statistics have shown that the more often a family sits together for family meals, the higher the likelihood of them getting better grades.
What can you do to increase the family meals you have each week?
Change can be a little overwhelming. I usually recommend aiming to have at least one more family meal each week as a starting goal. For some this meal may be dinner, but who says it can’t be breakfast or lunch? Below are a few tips to help you achieve this goal.
- Plan to do a “brown bag” dinner on those super busy nights. Remember that family meals are not necessarily about the food. It does not have to be a gourmet dinner, but you can still build a healthy and balanced meal with quick options on hand. Who says you can't pack dinner the night before?
- There is power in numbers. If you or your partner are unable to make it to dinner on time due to schedules, then focus on getting everyone who is home to meet at the table. It may be that when the other parent gets home everyone meets at the table again to have a snack.
- Leave some for leftovers. Plan to cook extra on the nights that you do have time and leave some for those busy nights. This takes away the stress of spending time on preparing another meal and puts the focus on the family time.
What will you do differently to ensure that your family gathers around the table for at least one more meal together each week?
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