10 Reasons to Have Family Meals More Often

When was the last time your family had a meal together? I don’t mean sitting in the car munching on burgers from the drive-through. I mean sitting down at the table and sharing a home-cooked meal.

If you can’t remember when you last enjoyed a family dinner, make plans to have them more often. Experts have found – and continue to discover – plenty of benefits for both children and adults when families have dinner together at least three times a week.

I know…I know, it’s not always easy, so click here if you need help with meal planning and grocery shopping.

Here are 10 reasons why you should have family meals more often:

Good For The Body

1. When families eat together, everyone tends to eat healthier. People who have frequent family meals consume more calcium, fiber, iron, and vitamins B6, B12, C and E. It could be because home-cooked meals are healthier than fast food and restaurant meals. (Source: Archives of Family

Medicine)

2. Children tend to eat more fruits and vegetables when they frequently have dinner with their families. They also tend to eat fewer snack foods. (Source: American Dietetic Association)

3. Children in families who eat dinner together are less likely to be overweight (Source: Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine). This makes sense, given the findings in #1 and #2 above.

Good For The Brain

4. Children from families who eat meals together get better grades than their peers who don’t have lots of family meal times (Source: Lou Harris-Reader’s Digest National Poll). So family dinners are not only good for the body; they’re also good for the brain.

5. When families eat together frequently, children have better language skills compared to kids from families who don’t have family mealtimes often. (Source: Harvard University)

Good For Emotional Health

6. Children of families who eat together report feeling happier and are more optimistic about the future, than their peers who have infrequent family meals. (Source: Lou Harris-Reader’s Digest National Poll)

7. Teenagers are less likely to use drugs, smoke, and drink alcoholic drinks, when their families eat together regularly. (Source: Columbia University)

8. It may come as a surprise, but among Moms who work outside the home, those who have family mealtimes reported feeling less stress than those who had family dinners less often. (Source: Family and Consumer Sciences Research Journal)

9. The more often teen girls had meals with their families, the less likely they were to have symptoms of depression and suicidal behaviors. (Source: University of Minnesota)

Good For Family Bonding

10. Eating together gives family members the chance to communicate and build relationships, something that both adults and children appreciate very much. (Source: Nutrition Education Network of Washington & Oprah Winfrey’s “Family Dinner Experiment”)

I hope these reasons motivate you and your family to try and eat together more often. We’re all busy – even children have plenty of after-school activities. But as the list above shows, family meals are worth every effort we put into them. It helps to plan ahead so that we’re not scrambling to get dinner ready or panicking because we don’t have all the ingredients we need.

To make it easier to get the family around the table with a home-cooked meal, check out Dine Without Whine’s menu planning service. It cost just a penny to try it out!

April 15th, 2013

It is Back To Schooling and Business Time

If you are like many of us who home school you do take a little vacation from schooling the kids and maybe from your business also, in the summer time. It is about that time to get back to the schooling and the business. That means getting the kids back on a schedule and you too- this can take a little getting used to again.

It’s still possible to have pleasant family mealtimes even after schooling/work has begun but again it will take getting back on a schedule. Check out these back-to-schooling dinner tips for busy Moms who are also WAHMs:

1. Have a meal plan.

The most important key to having relaxed family dinners even on school/work nights is having a meal plan. This will simplify both food shopping and meal preparation, and help you save money to boot.

If you need help, check out Dine Without Whine’s meal and grocery planning service.

2. Try freezer meals.

Cut down on cooking time by cooking large batches and then freezing them for future use.

3. Simplify your schedule.

With school time comes extracurricular activities that could have you running – or driving around – like a headless chicken. Keep things to a minimum. Overloading children with too many extracurricular activities is not good for them. They need downtime too.

4. Get the kids involved in cooking.

Get some help by mobilizing your own troops – your husband and children – as your kitchen helpers. Cooking is an important life skill and now it’s bonding time as well.

5. Have an emergency plan.

No matter how well you plan in advance, something always comes up. Plan for that as well. Always have emergency supplies in the pantry so you can throw together a home-cooked meal at a moment’s notice.

It could be a frozen dinner you prepared during the weekend. Mine is pasta, a can of tomato sauce and whatever vegetables are in the refrigerator.

6. Post your family schedule.

Keep a large calendar on the wall where you can see every family member’s schedule at a glance. It will also help you plan activities around your family dinner times.

7. Set a routine.

Decide on an earlier dinner time, bedtime and wake up time and start following them a few days before schooling officially begins. This way, everybody’s adjusted when the real thing comes.

8. Stay flexible.

Sometimes you just can’t afford disruptions to your meal times. An occasional missed family dinner is no big deal – when you know you’ll have more throughout the week.

9. Consider schooling/work schedules.

Take note of school events the kids may want to be apart of and other activities in your family calendar – so you can plan your family dinners with them in mind.

10. Cook once, eat twice.

Every so often, cook a double batch of meals that can easily be transformed into another entree or side dish. For example, roast 2 chickens. Have one for tonight’s dinner. Chop up the other for chicken salad for later in the week.

11. Organize your kitchen.

If you haven’t done so yet, now’s the time to take stock of your kitchen. Make sure the items you use most often are accessible from your food prep area. Replace the tools that are broken, and get those gadgets that will help you get dinner ready faster.

12. Have a special meal.

Make Friday night Teen’s night – which means they plan and prepare the meal. That is, if you have teens or any child old enough to prepare meals. They’ll learn how to cook, you get the night off (from cooking), and everybody has fun. The only condition is: everybody has to eat what’s prepared.

13. Make it educational.

This idea is for preschool-age kids. Make or buy a special placemat with letter or numbers. Laminate it with Con-Tact paper so it becomes a wipe-off board. Use it only for dinnertimes.

14. More mealtime learning opportunities.

Plan some meals to coincide with specific topics your child is studying. For example, on the night after a field trip you take to a pioneer town, have a pioneer-style meal, cooked outside over an open fire (if allowed in your area).

15. Celebrate schooling successes at dinner.

Celebrate schooling successes with a special family meal. Prepare the child’s favorite meal and prepare a nice dessert. It’s more important to have a meal that’s relaxed and delicious, than one that tool hours to prepare.

16. Nurture relationships.

Get to know your children’s closest friends by inviting them to dinner once in a while.

Follow these tips to make family mealtimes simpler, easier and more fun. For meal planning and grocery shopping help, go to Dine Without Whine.

Your monthly subscription includes a weekly meal plan with recipes for main dishes, side dishes, 2 desserts and 2 brunches.

You’ll also get a weekly grocery shopping list of everything you need to create the recipes. The list is categorized according to grocery sections, so your shopping will be easier and faster.

For a limited time, you can try Dine Without Whine for a penny. Click here to find out how.

August 24th, 2009


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