Embrace Family Meals

National Family Meals Month is celebrated in September to underscore the benefits of family meals. A simple campaign that started in 2015 by the Food Marketing Institute has grown into a social movement. Health professionals, community groups, retailers and manufacturers are all on board to promote family meals throughout the year. The pandemic created increased opportunities for families to eat together and perhaps provided a new appreciation for the traditional family meal. Research shows that family meals promote long term benefits for children, including healthier eating habits, a decrease in risky behaviors, higher grades, and improved self-esteem. Family meals are a win-win.

September means back-to-school and offers the opportune time to rethink the kitchen table scenario. Whether a family of 2 or 10, juggling the everyday demands of a busy life may result in mealtime dilemmas. Breakfast is usually a quick bite and lunch is often consumed away from home. Dinner is typically the one meal that can be savored. However, many Americans decide on what to eat for dinner less than an hour before the meal. If suppertime is on the fly, or if you find it hard to manage, consider the following suggestions.

  • Be Realistic. Many families are on the go from morning till night. After school activities like sports and music lessons, not to mention homework, may contribute to irregular mealtimes, eating on the run and fast food meals. Other responsibilities in the home and office may also pull your family from the kitchen table. Take time to assess and prioritize activities. It is worth the effort to reconsider schedules. Family meals are associated with a higher intake of fruits and veggies and ultimately, healthier weights.
  • Plan ahead. There is no need to be fancy or go out on a limb each and every night when planning family dinners. Clean and simple meals do the trick. Create a meal plan and make a shopping list, being sure to consider what foods you already have on hand. When deciding what to eat when, think about what produce will keep the longest and which nights might be most pressed for time. Do some prep on the weekend to lighten the load during the week.
  • Look for time savers. Purchase pre-cut and pre-washed vegetables. Supplement meals with prepared foods, either with the main course or with a few sides. Consider theme nights like Meatless Mondays or Taco Tuesdays to help with meal planning.
  • Make mealtime a positive experience
    • In addition to planning meals, make sure to schedule mealtimes so everyone is prepared to enjoy dinner together.
    • Encourage the “all hands-on deck” philosophy. Involve the entire family in meal prep and clean up. Remember, not everyone needs to do everything, every day.
    • While completing a difficult task, try to turn off the technology, including phones, TVs, and other electronic devices. This will allow for more conversational flow.
    • Speaking of conversation, leave negative emotions out of the kitchen. Concentrate on what made the day great. Chat about family activities, upcoming events, or past vacations.
    • Don’t expect perfection each and every night. Drinks spill, not everyone likes all the same food, phones ring. Just sitting down to dinner with the people you love is a great way to connect and create healthy habits.

At McCaffrey’s, there are healthy mealtime solutions in every aisle of the market. Take advantage of the assortment of products like pre-prepped fresh ingredients, prepared foods and wholesome heat and eat dishes. Enjoy our free nutrition programs, store events, and robust recipe portal. Get inspired and have fun!

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