Studies have proven that eating together as a family has many benefits: ”Kids who more frequently ate with their family not only had a lower body mass index, they also ate more fruits, vegetables, fiber, calcium-rich foods, and vitamins……Also less likely to experience depression symptoms and were more likely to feel that their family was more supportive compared with teens who ate less frequently at the family table.” – Medical Daily.
We’d all love to sit down around the table together like a Norman Rockwell painting every night, passing the green beans and discussing our day. It’s just so hard with today’s busy families to make that happen. Kids have sports, clubs, afterschool activities and homework. Mom and Dad are frequently rushing home from work and scrambling to get something nutritious into everyone before the next round of activities begin.
Here are four ideas to help you eat together when everyone’s on-the-go!
1. Make eating together a family goal. Sometimes just setting a quantifiable and achievable goal helps make things happen! The vague feeling that, “We should eat together more,” isn’t really inspiring. A statement like, “Our family’s goal is to eat together at least three times every week,” gives you something much more solid to strive for.
2. Have dinner ready to go. If you only have 40 minutes between walking in the door and heading back out again, the only way to eat a meal together is if it’s already cooked! Pull out that dusty crockpot and let dinner cook while you’re away or prepare meals that can be made ahead of time and warmed-up like lasagna or quiche.
3. Keep it simple. The benefit of family meals comes from the shared time, not what’s being served. Soups, sandwiches, “breakfast for dinner” or a store bought rotisserie chicken with a salad is just as effective as an elaborate dinner with all the trimmings.
(See also Finding Fun at the Family Dinner Table)
4. Think outside the box. Again, the benefit comes from eating together. Dinner isn’t the only meal that can be eaten as a family! If you’re too busy in the evenings find time to share breakfast, lunch or brunch together during the week (Sunday brunch is a wonderful family tradition!). If everyone is on the go maybe it’s easier to meet at the soccer field for a picnic 30 minutes before practice starts instead of trying to get everyone home. Be creative!
How do you get your whole family together for meals?
Jenn Fowler is a blogger, speaker, social media consultant and ex-Army Officer. She lives in a quaint village in Upstate New York with her husband Yankee Bill and their two wild and creative children—Princess (11) and Buddy (9). When she isn’t blogging about living a good life on a budget at Frugal Upstate, she is gardening, reading, acting, crafting, cooking and knitting—although not necessarily in that order.