Eat Better & Eat Together.
Research has found that eating family meals together has many social, physical and emotional benefits for families, especially children. However, many moms’ visions of having a Pinterest-worthy table with a healthy, homemade meal (that the kids will actually eat) set in front of smiling and thankful faces sounds daunting, if not impossible.
If this isn’t your reality (that’s most of us), then don’t feel frazzled or down! Here are 3 simple steps to help reduce the pressure of putting together family meals and make the most of it when you do.
TIP ONE: THINK OUTSIDE THE TABLE
Evening activities for different kids at different locations not only splits a family up, but a table is nowhere in the picture. Re-envision your idea of family mealtime at the table.
Sometimes the location for a family meal is in the minivan on the way to an activity or on a picnic blanket at the sports field. This might not be your perfect idea of a family meal, but it’s the reality for many busy families, so make the most of it!
While your kids are eating their go-time meal in the back seat, turn off the radio and engage in meaningful conversation. Think of questions that draw more than one-word responses from your kids and don’t forget that moms and dads have to answer, too. Here are a few suggestions to get the conversation started:
What made you smile today?
Tell me about the book you read today.
What are you looking forward to or are excited about?
If you could change one thing about your day, what would it be?
If you could teach class tomorrow, what would you teach everyone?
TIP 2: PLAN AND PREP AHEAD OF TIME
Between busy work schedules, homework, after-school activities, unloading and reloading backpacks for the next day and bedtime routines, getting dinner on the table can be overwhelming. Planning ahead can help your family have time to come together at some point during the week (and save your sanity, too!).
Take a look at your week’s schedule and figure out what prep you can do to allow your family more time together during the week. For easy make-ahead meals, check out Slow Cooker recipes.
You also can make some wonderful memories by including the kids in the meal prep and reinforcing some of the lessons they’re learning in school.
Family Time in the Kitchen
Math – Recipes include fractions, timing, measurements and weights
Science – Cooking reactions when ingredients are combined
Creativity – What ingredients look and taste well together
Reading – Recipes contain new words and are fun to read
Give your kids the opportunity to choose recipes, wash and cut fruits and veggies and set the table.
TIP 3: USE SIMPLE AND FLEXIBLE RECIPES
Cook Once, Eat Twice
To get more out of your time, prepare 2 pounds of lean ground beef. Use half of the prepared beef that evening and save the other half for the next night with a different recipe!
If you can’t make family mealtime work every day, then don’t stress. Enjoying a 15-minute snack together still can provide a great opportunity to discuss what happened during the day.
Spending time together as a family is important. It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to schedule family mealtime every day, but by making family time a priority, your kids will perceive how important that time is together. So during this busy season of life, don’t forget about one of the most important activities that will help your child succeed – family mealtime.
And if you need some inspiration for family meals, whatever the occasion, remember, Beef, It’s What’s for Dinner.