Research shows that eating meals together can help children. When they eat with their family they tend to stay away from drugs, alcohol and tobacco. Family meals can help your child’s attitude, improve their health and help them do better in school.
Learn how to make family meals fun for your busy family. On this page you will find tips for planning meals and more about why family meals are so important.
Why family meals are a good thing
There are many reasons why eating meals together is a good thing. Family meals are an easy way to help your children have the tools and support they need to be successful in life. And don’t forget that cooking meals at home often costs less and is healthier than eating fast food.
Here are some good things that happen when children enjoy family meals five or more nights per week:
- They eat more fruits and vegetables!
- They have less negative emotions.
- There are less eating disorders
- They are more positive
- Kids learn to share and take turns
- They get better grades
- They are less likely to use drugs and alcohol or smoke.
It takes some effort make family meals happen, but the rewards are well worth the work. In under an hour a day you can improve your family’s diet, food budget, and chances at success.
Tips for family meals
There are a few steps you can take to help make family meals in your home fun and healthy:
- Plan meals ahead of time.
- Set time for meals.
- Get everyone to help with cooking and cleaning up.
- Turn off all screens (TV, phone, computer)
- Enjoy time together with your family.
Think ahead for things to talk about. Write down ideas and pull one out if you need to start the talking.
Family meals do not have to be all the time. Eating just a few meals together a week is better than none. You may find you like it so much that you do it more often.
Family meals are not just for dinner. If dinner is not a good time to eat together, try breakfast or lunch as a family. It has to work for your family. Breakfast together can be just as fun as dinner.
Try out some meal themes to keep it fun. Have taco Tuesdays or Sunday soup.
Quick and easy menus
Family meals are meant to be a fun part of the day for everyone. Here are some quick and easy menu ideas from our favorite WA SNAP-Ed Recipes. Click on the menu items to see the recipe. For many more of our recipes visit the Recipes section of the website.
- Menu 1: Banana Crunchos and Green Smoothies
- Menu 2: Cranberry Orange Muffin and Tropical Smoothie
- Menu 3: Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal
- Menu 1: Crunchy Burritos
- Menu 2: Tuna Veggie Melt
- Menu 3: Vegetable Quesadillas
- Menu 1: Sesame Noodles with Broccoli and Chicken
- Menu 2: Quick and Easy Chili
- Menu 3: Very Veggie Pizza