Updated: Mar 25, 2022
There has been a lot of research done on families eating together, and the list of positive results continues to grow. The families tend to eat more fruits and vegetables and less fried foods, soda, and foods with trans fats. Kids are also more likely to be of normal weight, get better grades, and steer away from drugs and alcohol.
That all sounds great on paper, but the million-dollar question is how to make family meals happen. Time is at a #premium when both parents work full-time jobs and kids have after-school events with clubs, sports, and extracurricular activities.
It can be hard enough to find time to regularly buy groceries, let alone find time for everyone with different schedules to sit down around the dinner table together.
Looking at my younger self, family dinners usually involved most family members on most nights. My mom would do what she could, even if it was just 10 minutes that we were together because she knew it was a time to talk. It was a chance for everyone to have input.
While I loved my family members back then, looking back, I probably appreciate them more now than I did at the time. Now that my siblings and I are grown, it’s extra special to be able to gather at holidays or birthdays and have a meal together.
Talking with over 20 students at Michigan State, all but four said they had family meals growing up. That being said, every one of them said they hope to have them in the future for as long as they can because they all saw their value. It was unanimous: the best parts were being able to hang out with their families and how it brought them all together. Many commented on how it gave them a chance to talk and keep communication open in their families.
While a challenge, there are ways to have family meals without having to turn into June Cleaver overnight. If they are nonexistent in your house, start slow and set a goal for once or maybe twice a week. And these meals don’t have to be multi-course feasts. Keep it simple and take fresh foods to make a family favorite that everyone will look forward to. Or pull that crockpot out of storage and put it to good use.
There’s something magical about being able to walk in after a long day’s work and smell your delicious meal already cooked. You can even make the entire affair a family event and have everyone pitch in.
Kids are more likely to eat foods, even the dreaded #broccoli if they help prepare it. If time gets real tight, remember getting everyone to eat a takeout pizza is still getting everyone to eat together. In fact, that happening on #SaturdayNights is one of my most memorable traditions.
Or, if it’s hard to make it work with after-school obligations, try having a family breakfast before everyone leaves for work and school. If you are still eating together, it doesn’t matter the time of the day.
Family meals should be a great way to let go of the stresses of everyday life. It’s the time for everyone to talk about their days and what’s going on in their lives. It’s a time for family support, comfort, and healthy #communication. Kids are more likely to feel like their parents are proud of them, and parents will feel more involved in their kids’ lives. While the meals are a great time to talk, try to keep the real deep and serious discussions for another time. The same goes for TV or cell phones.
Keep dinner time personable, enjoyable, and something to tie everyone together.
Food, for centuries and across the world, has been something that brings people together.
Family meals are more than just the food, but also an opportunity to take a couple of minutes and all be together, listening and talking to each other, and making it truly a rewarding experience for all involved.
If you are looking for how you can make family meals work in your house, browse poweroffamilymeals.com Or, check out Zonya Foco’s website, Foco is an Eastern Michigan University graduate and now a national nutritional motivation speaker. Her cookbook, Lickety-Split Meals for Health Conscious People on the Go is filled with easy, healthy, and quick recipes.