Eating meals as a family takes a little work in today’s hectic world.  But it’s worth it! Families that eat together tend to eat better, like eating more fruits and vegetables.  Plus, family meals get everyone sharing and talking – something kids need. Follow these tips to get your family making meals and memories together.  It’s a lesson they’ll use for life.

  1. Set a realistic goal: You may not be able to eat together every day. And that’s OK! Set a goal to add just one more family meal to the week. As that becomes a habit, add another family meal.
  2. Plan when you’ll eat together: Mark those dates on your calendar. You’ll be more likely to stick to it if you’ve got a clear plan in place.
  3. Be flexible with the time and place: Eating together may mean preparing something ahead of time and having a picnic before or after your child’s soccer game. It’s OK to get creative!
  4. Cook it fast on busy nights: Do some tasks the night before if you can. Wash and cut fruits, veggies, and herbs. Store them in the fridge until ready to use. Try some of our 30-minute meals like Asian Noodles with Peanut Butter Sauce, Peanut Butter and Banana Pockets, or Tuna Boats.
  5. Get everyone involved: Give all family members a job to do before, during, and after the meal. Kids will enjoy being a part of it, especially if you give them a “special” role they enjoy.
  6. Focus on each other: Turn off the TV, video games, and cell phones. It may seem weird at first, but it will help set the tone that mealtime is family time.
  7. Talk about things that everyone can enjoy: Try to make meals a stress-free time. Ask fun questions like: What made you laugh today? What is something nice you did for someone else today? What are you looking forward to about tomorrow?
  8. Set some ground rules: Choose rules that promote respect. For instance, “let others finish talking before you talk.” Or, “don’t make negative comments about food.” Help kids understand it’s ok if they don’t like a food but they should let others feel free to enjoy it!
  9. Make mealtime a learning time: With younger kids, talk about the colors or shapes of the foods. With older kids, ask what animals or plants your foods come from. Discuss eating traditions in other cultures. If nobody knows, look it up as a family.
  10. Share the adventure: Make a point to try new foods together at family meals. Talk about the look, feel, and taste of the new food. Look up other ways you could prepare it for a future meal. Do this once a week, once a month, or whenever you can fit it in.
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