Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, many families found it difficult to eat meals together. In fact, sitting together for a family meal was becoming somewhat of a lost art. Most folks found themselves with more things to do and less time to do them. With many of our “normal” activities being paused, now is a great opportunity to reinvest in family mealtime. What is the importance of family meals you might ask? Research suggests that children and adolescents who engage in regular family meals are more likely to eat healthier foods, less likely to be overweight, less likely to engage is risky behaviors, have better relations with parents, are more self-confident and have higher test scores. August is Family Meals Month and the perfect time to enjoy food, family and have a little fun!
- Keep mealtime simple. Instead of making a meal with 20 ingredients, try making simple recipes with 10 ingredients or less. Also, make a collection of recipes that can be made in under 30 minutes. Consider making extra portions of your favorite meals and freeze them for use in the coming months. If you are planning lasagna for dinner, then make two! Enjoy one now and freeze the other one for later.
- Make mealtime a family affair. There are many tasks that can be shared by the entire family such as mixing ingredients, chopping vegetables, peeling fruit, setting the table and helping with clean-up.
- Make mealtime fun. Have a family mealtime theme and prepare a meal accordingly. Consider non-traditional meal settings such as enjoying a meal while sitting together on the floor or having a family meal outdoors.
- Make mealtime meaningful. Use family mealtime as an opportunity to have family conversations without the distraction of television or cell phones. Family meals allow parents to serve as role models and create a supportive environment that allows family members to speak freely and listen. Time passes quickly, so make the most of these mealtime moments.
- Celebrate Family Meals Month by sharing a meal with your family. If family meals are new for you, start slowly by choosing one day of the week that you would like for this to occur. Inform family members in advance so that everyone has time to prepare for this time together. Try having family mealtime once, daily, or weekly! The more meals families share together the better. For centuries families have celebrated the tradition of “Sunday dinner.” Sunday dinner was a time when family members came together to re-connect, celebrate, support, and of course enjoy a good meal. You too can start your own family mealtime traditions and now is a great time to get started.