Family Meal Time

The family dinner table represents community and solidarity. Sharing a meal with the people you love is a wonderful shared experience and a chance to connect.

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When you add up the practical and emotional benefits of eating together as a family, it’s plain to see that it’s a ritual worth investing in. 

THE FAMILY THAT EATS TOGETHER...

Given that many members of the household are likely running in different directions, with different schedules from one another, by dedicating time to sitting down and enjoying a meal together you’re prioritizing the importance of quality time. Eating breakfast, lunch and dinner together, as a unit, can be logistically challenging but sharing one of three daily meals is doable if you make it a priority. Every family is different so choose the meal that will give you the most time together. If it isn’t possible to break bread together every day of the week, carve out two or three nights a week. It might take some juggling but the benefits include emotional well-being and time away from the constant bombardment of technology. 

PITCHING IN

Family meals come together quicker when everyone pitches in. Put one person in charge of the salad, another for the sides, and so on. When you’re very limited on time, turn to family style meals. This is when the components of a meal are put on the table in bowls or plates so everyone can serve themselves and cuts down on preparation and plating time. Pastas, chilis and stews work well here, as well as deconstructed tacos and fajitas. If you’re a seafood kind of family, mussels prepared in a simple broth, alongside crusty bread for dipping, will please everyone at the table. No matter what you eat, make family meals a habit and create your own traditions around preparing and sharing food together. 

Picnics are a wonderful way to connect as a family, while getting some fresh air and a change of scenery.

TAKE IT OUTSIDE

Picnics are a wonderful way to connect as a family, while getting some fresh air and a change of scenery. The foods you pack can be as simple or complicated as you like but it’s a good idea to decide whether you’ll go the cold or hot route. A variety of sandwiches and crudité or a barbecued chicken with various deli-style salads, you decide. Some choices that always hit the spot and can help round out your basket are hummus and bread, watermelon, and fruit kabobs, which younger children will especially love. Whatever items you decide on, just be sure to keep everything in a cooler so that nothing spoils, especially meats and mayonnaise-based items. 

Depending on your family, it can be fun to make it a full day affair and incorporate games like lawn bowling, frisbee, and potato sack races. In this tech-heavy era, spending time outside is a good break from always being plugged in to a device. 

From sheet pan dinners to ingredients expedited by pressure cookers, simple and healthy meals are accessible to all.

THE PRACTICAL SIDE

With the variety and convenience of fast food at an all-time high, ordering in or dining out is certainly tempting. It can be very hard to find the time to cook, especially if everyone in the home works, but there are now more recipes than ever that save time in the kitchen. From sheet pan dinners to ingredients expedited by pressure cookers, simple and healthy meals are accessible to all. Batch cooking in large quantities also goes a long way. The important thing is coming together as a family to share food, not how extravagant the dishes are. Whether it’s through passing the butter or sharing a story, everyone at the table is forced to engage with one another, something that we can all benefit from in this day and age. 

Another good reason to eat meals at home is that homemade foods are often much healthier than dining out, especially at fast food restaurants where items generally contain higher fat, salt, and caloric content. Then there’s the environmental impact of packaged foods, a significant contributor to food waste. 

Sharing a dinner table is also an opportunity for children to practice the social skills of dining and conversation, as well as food etiquette. Things like placing a napkin on one’s lap and chewing with one’s mouth closed will ensure that they learn the necessary manners needed to dine socially for years to come.