Raise your mitt and commit to more family meals
The act of sitting around the dinner table with your kids may be the single most important thing you do as a family. Studies show that families who eat together have kids who perform better in school and are less likely to have behavioral problems.
September is National Family Meals Month, which encourages families to share one more meal together at home each week. With full schedules and both parents working, take-out is tempting. However, with a little revamping to your routine, you can serve satisfying suppers your whole family will enjoy.
Pull up a chair and find out how:
No time? No problem!
Since when did making meals have to be time-consuming? Give yourself a solid 30 minutes and keep your favorite pasta sauce in the pantry – it could just save the day. In addition, a little prep work on the weekends may be just enough to keep all things sane during the week. Cook up chicken breasts, then shred for quesadillas, tacos or a quick soup. Or consider breakfast for dinner: Eggs, pancakes and fruit is not only easy – it’s quick.
Hangry? Grab a veggie
Before you give in to a snack before dinner, try to instill the “veggies only” rule. Kids can choose something from the produce drawer or the veggie you plan to serve with dinner. Another hunger hack? Implement the crunch contest. Simply fill a plate with raw veggies and challenge your kids to see who can make the loudest crunch. Peppers, carrots and cucumbers can be plated the morning of so you’re ready when the hungry cries call.
RELATED: Health benefits of family meals
Tater tot casserole yet again? While you may have only a few tried-and-true recipes up your sleeve – it’s OK. Kids thrive on routine and they love theme nights. Meatless Mondays, Taco Tuesdays or Leftover Thursdays are the best way to simplify your meal planning – and it takes the guesswork out of the most-asked question of the day: “What’s for dinner?”
30-MINUTE MEAL: Honey-Cashew Chicken Stir-Fry
The Mess is Real
Spilled milk and a plate worth of noodles on the floor won’t always be the norm, so continue laying the groundwork of meal time into these small minds. In addition, eating with your kids allows them to see you enjoying a range of foods. Remember: If you don’t want picky kids, try not to be picky yourselves. That includes eating your serving of veggies, too!
Your mealtime mantra
If you need one takeaway, then this is it: The parents are responsible for making and serving dinner. The kids are responsible for whether they eat it and how much. Rest assured, they won’t starve. What habits do you want to instill in your kids? Catering to their every need and only serving mac-n-cheese will teach them that whining gets them their way. Plus, they won’t have any motivation to branch out if they know you’ll always defer to their favorite foods. If they are hungry, they will eat. Trust them to make this decision.
There’s no family dinner without food, yet the best benefits come from what happens after you bring the food to the table. When families have the time to talk and make memories – well, that’s the secret sauce. Together tastes better. Pledge to plate it up with your families more this month.
Paige Green received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Management at the University of Northern Iowa in 2012. She pursued her passion for nutrition at Iowa State University, where she earned her Bachelor of Science degree in dietetics during the spring of 2015. She is a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the Iowa Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Paige truly sets out to educate individuals on finding a healthy balance in life and her passion for people and nutrition inspires clients of all ages. You can find Paige at the Ames Hy-Vee on Lincoln Way.