With about a month of your kid’s school year under your belt, it can seem just about impossible to find the time to unplug from the phone and television to sit down for a family meal. October is National Eat Better, Eat Together Month. Take this as an opportunity to create a new school year resolution to eat together as a family! Read the following tips and benefits of family mealtime:

Increased Self-Esteem: Research has found that families who take 20 minutes at a meal to catch up and relax are at decreased risks of

  • Childhood obesity
  • Depression
  • Poor academic performance

Healthier Food Choices: Recruit your kids to help in the planning, prep, and how to make healthy choices. Families who do this are more likely to eat a balanced meal instead of resorting to unhealthy foods. See Simple Thrifty Meal Ideas.

Make it fun! Take your kids to the supermarket and make it a game to have them pick out their favorite fruits & veggies or something new. Kids will be more willing to eat something if they picked it or helped with the cooking. Having “mommies little helpers” in the kitchen is a great opportunity to learn food safety, promote independence and self-confidence. As your children grow up, they can take more responsibility learning how to plan and cook the meal. This is an important life skill.

Conversation Starters: Talking to each other is an important part of meal time. If the family likes to have the radio or a favorite TV show on, turn it off before you sit down to eat and make it a conversation starter. Avoid other distractions such as phones, newspaper and video games.

Have a family agreement that the conversation will stay positive, polite and respectful. Discuss the day’s ups and downs, but don’t argue over chores or homework. This is a time to relax and reconnect.

Be Prepared: Meal prep can include meals you put together over the weekend and kept in the freezer or a main dish in a slow cooker that will be ready to eat when you get home. Have no-cook items (apples, avocadoes, and tomatoes) and pre-washed veggies for quick and easy prep. You not only save money but also have more time for family bonding. Read Secrets to Simple Family Dinners and the Dinner Menus category in the article section.

Schedule Family Meals: If you are not used to eating a family meal together, start off slowly. Make it a goal to eat together once a week, and work your way up! Remember, it doesn’t have to be fancy or only at dinnertime. If your evenings are booked, make breakfast your family meal time.

Another great resource on the subject is The Family Dinner Project.  They are a start-up grassroots movement of food, fun and conversation about things that matter.