With Thanksgiving right around the corner, many of us are thinking about what food we will prepare to share with family and friends this year. While we make it a priority to find the time to plan our Thanksgiving dishes, it’s not always as easy to find the time to prepare and sit down for family meals the rest of the year. With the hustle and bustle of work, school, sports and other activities, it can be tough to find quality time to share meals with your family. Try tackling mealtime as a team by including the whole family in choosing and making meals!
Check out these simple tips and resources to help with family mealtime:
Set a time for family meals. Let everyone in the family know that there is a specific mealtime so that activities can be planned around it. Prioritizing mealtime will allow the family to eat together more often. Even if it can’t be every night, try cooking and sharing one more meal at home together each week.
Select the meal together. Decide what meal will be prepared as a family. Getting everyone on board for the meal is a great way to build more excitement around family mealtime. Encourage your family to try healthier versions of some of their favorite meals. Need some ideas? Check out the MyPlate Pinterest page where you can find hundreds of nutritious and delicious recipes, including new First Lady Favorite MyPlate recipes.
Designate kitchen helpers. Many hands make the work light! Try assigning tasks to each family member. Having everyone pitch in on ordinary mealtime activities like setting the table, prepping the vegetables, pouring the water or clearing the table are excellent ways to engage the whole family and take the pressure off one person. In addition, kids who help prepare meals are often open to trying new foods, and they will learn skills they will carry throughout their lives and build confidence in the kitchen.
Reduce meal prep time. A family-on-the-go may have less time to prepare meals at home. Check out these resources to making cooking at home easier for your family:
- Kitchen Hacks board on the MyPlate Pinterest page, which is filled with clever tips and tricks to preparing certain foods and meals.
- USDA’s SuperTracker, which can help you plan, analyze and track what you eat.
- MyPlate, which includes tips, videos, and recipes to help you build a healthier plate.
Make mealtime = family time. Once the meal has been prepared, try turning off the TV and removing other distractions. This is the perfect time to catch up on your family’s day. Make mealtime fun by incorporating games, activities, and questions about topics your kids are interested in. Eating together has many benefits, including improving family communication. In addition, children tend to perform better in school and get along better with their peers as a result of sharing family meals together.
Mealtime spent together at home is a great way for families to begin building healthier eating habits and enjoying more quality time together. Get started by picking one meal a week that will be cooked and shared at home together, and use the tips and resources above to make the process easier and more fun for everyone!