Making Time in Our Busy Lives for Family Meals

You’ve heard that there are many benefits to family meal planning, but there are also many challenges.  First, it’s difficult to plan a family menu for a whole week.  How do you keep from duplicating the same meals over and over?  Second, your family’s schedule may be very hectic with no one in the same place at the same time.  How can you feed them if you can’t find them?  And third, what if you can’t cook very well? You still have to feed them, right?

Creative Tips for Better Family Meals:

Get your family involved.  When children are involved in the planning process they’ll be more likely to eat what is prepared. Ask your children and other family members what foods they would like to eat during the week. It’s easier to get help with meal preparation and clean-up  if their food preferences are considered. Search online recipes to get more ideas.

Make a weekly shopping list.  Once you’ve made a list of the recipes you’re planning to prepare, including snacks and staples, make a list of all the ingredients that you will need to prepare these meals.  Organize your healthy recipes and compile your shopping list. Make sure you check your pantry and refrigerator to see what you may already have on hand. Make adjustments to your list and take your list to the store.

Make eating healthy simple.  Family meals don’t have to be elaborate to be healthy. Try easy ways to balance your meal with simple vegetable side dishes or fruit and yogurt for dessert.  Prepare double batches of food when have time so you can cook once, eat twice. Finally, if you can’t really cook, buy food that’s already prepared or frozen so that you can add your own splash to it to make it your own.

Work with your family’s schedule.  Family meal time does not have to be dinner.  Evenings are often difficult.  Kids are hungrier earlier than parents want to eat; parents who work full-time aren’t necessarily home in time for dinner with their kids; and siblings may have different schedules that interfere with everyone sitting down at the same time for a meal.  If this is case in your household, breakfast or lunch may work better. Also it’s ok if family meals do not happen every day. Make the most of your family meals when they occur. @HomeETry to get a well-balanced family meal with all the food groups on the table at least three times per week.

Relax and have fun.  Turn off technology and tune into each other. If you need the background noise, turn on some music.  Make conversation the focus of family meals, but keep it light. The dinner table is not the place for discipline.  It’s the place for family bonding, so no nagging about grades, friends, or your spouse’s to-do list either!

Share the work. Enlist help from the family, from planning the shopping list to cooking to setting the table to cleaning up.  Once everyone understands their role, they’ll become comfortable with the routine and stop complaining.

There are lots of ways that you can make family meals happen.  This time is important because

“The family who eats together, stays together!”
Follow The HomeE Meal Planning Pinterest Page for more great ideas @
http://www.pinterest.com/TheHomeE/meal-planning!