For some families, eating together is reserved for special events and holidays, like birthdays or Thanksgiving. These special occasion meals allow families to connect with each other, strengthen family ties and pass on family cultural traditions.
But family meals don’t have to be reserved for special occasions. Family meals can happen any time of day, any day of the week! If the words “I’m too busy” pop into your mind, you’re not alone. You probably even hear this from many parents you know. Like so many people, my days revolve around juggling work demands and parent responsibilities. But I’ve learned that family meals can fit into even the busiest of schedules. By planning ahead, using meal planning tools like those available free at MealsMatter.org and getting the whole family involved, you reap a host of benefits:
Children who eat with their families are better nourished, have lower rates of obesity and higher vocabularies. These factors can have a positive impact on classroom behavior and academic performance. And when it comes to improving the health of our children, family meals are a great way to instill healthy eating habits that will last a lifetime. As a Registered Dietitian and mom to an almost-2-year-old, these benefits are truly important to me. That is why I’ve made balanced family meals with foods from all the food groups a priority in my home. Plus, they give our family the time we need to connect and share after our busy days spent running in different directions.
Need a jumps start on planning your family meals? Meals do not have to be elaborate or time consuming to be beneficial and the weekly Family Meal Recipe suggestions on MealsMatter.org blog can help! Get a balanced meal on the table in 30 minutes or less with Red, White and Green Grilled Cheese, Mango Salad and Roasted Peach Sundaes. Pour some milk and dinner’s done! Mix and match recipes like 15 Minute Beef Fajitas or Easy Chicken Enchiladas with Warm Corn and Tomato Salad and ChocoRazz Smoothies to bring the family together for balanced meals with foods from all the food groups throughout the week
If you want to start or strengthen a commitment to family meals this fall, join me in taking the Eat Better, Eat Together Family Meal Pledge! Visit Facebook.com/MealsMatter.org to take the pledge and sign up for recipes, meal suggestions and tips on how to balance meals with foods from all five food groups. You can learn more by visiting the MealsMatter.org website and following @MealsMatter and the #EatBetter2Gether hashtag on Twitter.
Ashley Rosales, registered dietitian with Dairy Council of California, found her true calling working in the field of nutrition education where she can empower others to make the best food and lifestyle decisions for their own optimal health and wellness. As a wife and new mom she strongly believes that no matter what challenges families are faced with, such as limited time, lack of skills or even economic resources, they can find unique ways to share in a home cooked meal and reap all of the wonderful benefits of family meal time. Her favorite quote: “We are indeed more than what we eat, but what we eat can nevertheless help us be much more than what we are.” Follow Ashley on Twitter: @Ashley_RD Connect with Ashley on LinkedIn