Eat Together! It Makes a Difference!

The average family meal lasts barely 20 minutes, but few other settings in family life have such potential to influence children's behavior and development. When families eat meals together regularly, children and teens get better grades in school; develop healthier eating habits; are less likely to smoke, drink or use drugs; are less likely to have eating and/or nutrition problems; and are more likely to discuss serious issues with their parents. 

Tips for Making Family Meals a Reality:

  • Plan times when all family members can eat together. A family meal does not always need to be home cooked.  Consider breakfast or weekend meals if dinnertime is too difficult.
  • Have family members participate in the planning, preparing, cooking, and cleanup. Prepare meals that don't require a lot of time and effort.  
  • Prepare some or all of the meal in advance. Double recipes and freeze some meals, so you have something on hand in the freezer. Consider using a slow cooker, such as a Crock-Pot ® so the meal is ready when you get home. Pre-cut vegetables, frozen vegetables, and bagged salads make quick and easy side dishes.
  • Take a look at your recipe books you might find an old favorite!
  • Try some new recipes.

Ideas for Making Mealtime Positive:

  • Once in a while, try to make some meals extra-special (for example, picnic night, make-your-own-pizza night, breakfast-for-dinner night, or other special theme meals).
  • Turn off the TV, computers, cell phones, and MP3 players. Remove earbuds.
  • Allow everyone the opportunity to speak and to be heard.
  • Keep the conversation positive. Some ideas for conversation starters are:
         - What was the best/worst part of your day?
         - What are you thankful for today?
         - If you could go on a vacation anywhere in the world, where would you go? Why?
         - If you could become any animal in the world, which one would you want to be? Why?
         - Finish the sentence "I wish someone had told me..."
         - What would like to invent?