Eating as a family can be more than just shared conversations — it’s building relationships, disconnecting from outside distractions, and modeling food choices and behavior for children. It’s important to spend quality time together as a family, but life sometimes gets in the way. It can be tough to round up your family. Spending time in the kitchen and at the dinner table together is a great way to grow as a family and dedicate time together in the midst of busy schedules. You don’t need a four-course meal to get your family together.
To reduce stress, plan and prep easy meals, Katie Johnson, nutrition educator, has a few tips that can make it easier:
- Start small. Start out planning just one day a week to sit down as a family to enjoy a meal together.
- Disconnect from devices. Take this family time to disconnect from the outside world and connect with each other to build stronger relationships.
- Create meaningful conversation. Go around the table and have each person talk about the best part of their day and troubleshoot any challenges ahead. Be sure to talk about something each of you is looking forward to.
- Plan meals ahead of time. Rather than scrambling to find a recipe last minute, plan ahead to ensure you have all the ingredients needed.
MAKING MEAL PLANNING SIMPLE
Meal planning is a great way to get ahead of the game and feel prepared for family dinners. If weekdays are too hectic, prepping meals can save time so you can more easily squeeze in family dinners. Here are some ways to make meal prepping and planning a little easier:
- Plan ahead. Determine what meals you are going to make next week. Make your shopping list based on the ingredients for those meals, so you can grab everything you need in one trip to the store. Use kitchen shortcuts to keep healthy eating quicker and easier.
- Dedicate time once a week. Set aside a couple of hours just one day a week so you can prep meals.
- Prep ingredients ahead of time. As soon as you get home from the grocery store, peel and cut fruits and vegetables so they’re ready when you want them.
- Cook reusable ingredients. Prepare food to use for multiple meals, such as rice or fresh-cut veggies.
- Get kids in the kitchen. Divvy up tasks. Younger children can hand rip vegetables, while older children can chop them. Getting kids in the kitchen and experimenting with new foods increases the chances they will eat what they prepare.
- Divide food. Put your prepped meals into individual containers right away for each day of the week so they’re ready for when you need them.
Family meals can be enjoyable and fruitful if you plan ahead.