September is National Family Meals Month, a nationwide event designed to underscore the benefits of family meals and to challenge us all to share one more meal at home per week with our families.
The busy demands of modern life often come at the expense of family mealtime at home. Family meals eaten at home have been proven to benefit the health and wellness of children and adolescents. They have also been shown to fight obesity, substance abuse and to make families stronger—creating a positive impact on our communities and our nation as a whole.
According to a 2013 Harris poll, only 30 percent of American families share dinner every night.
Here are some common challenges families encounter with our suggested solutions:
Challenge: My kids are picky eaters.
- Serve family style – Serving a variety of healthy dishes in large bowls or platters (family style) gives everyone in the family an opportunity to serve themselves. This helps empower children to choose foods that appeal to their taste buds and their appetite. Pre-plating meals dictates to a child what and how much they “should” eat vs. trusting children to listen to their bodies and own hunger cues.
- Mealtime roles – Invite children into the process of meal prep. Have them help plan, cook, and serve family meals. Children feel more empowered when they are part of the process to help choose recipes, slice or dice ingredients, and set the table. They are more likely to taste their own creations.
Challenge: Our family is always on the go with our kids’ evening activities.
- Bring a blanket or find a park table – Create a family picnic whereever you are! Have a soccer game at 6:30? Get there a little early, scope out the scene, and find a suitable place to sit down and enjoy a meal or snack together.
- Pack your to-go snack or meal the night before – Take just a few minutes to look ahead to tomorrow and access if a to-go solution will work for your circumstance. Then pack the food in a cooler as you head out the door.
- Be sure you kitchen zones are well stocked – Having grab-and-go options in your kitchen is one of the best strategies to avoiding highly-processed foods on the road, especially for snacks. Some snack examples include: Prepped vegetables + pre-made hummus, yogurts + fruit, pre-portioned nuts + fruit, rice cakes + nut butter [a Living Plate team favorite.] Add some pre-made proteins to any of these snack to make them a meal.
Challenge: I don’t have time to make dinner.
- Use a meal plan – If you don’t have time to make dinner, meal planning probably isn’t in the cards either. Don’t worry, our team has done all of that work for you. Use our meal plans to help make meal planning a breeze. We created a weekly meal planner that generates a grocery shopping list for you. Plus, the plans are completely customizable to meet your families needs and preferences.
- Batch cook – Batch cooking items like quinoa, steamed broccoli, raw vegetables, etc. can help get dinner on the table in minutes. Our 3-2-1 plan gives you 3 dinner options for the week, plus breakfasts and snacks – simply toggle up servings and make double to feed your family for the week.
- Be flexible – Family meals are important whether you make the food from scratch or start with store-bought items. Give yourself some flexibility by purchasing prepped, pre-washed, or pre-cooked foods to supplement your busiest days.
Let’s raise our oven mitts and pledge to adding just one more family meal to the week – our families’ health is worth it.