Who has time for family meals?
By Jennifer Snyder
Although we would all love to sit down as a family and eat healthy meals together more often, it's sometimes hard to co-ordinate everyone's schedule. You have to get the kids to soccer practice, music lessons and/or part-time jobs while working long hours.
Believe it or not, it is possible for busy families to gather at the dining table and eat meals that were not prepared in a factory then frozen. How in the world can that happen? Make it a priority then make a plan.
When making it a priority, it is the parents who must take the lead. Parents should identify the barriers to mealtime. Is it really time or is it fatigue or lack of interest? Start with one night a week, even if it is Sunday night. Getting into the groove on a more relaxed evening will set the tone for it to extend to other days. Eating earlier can be an option as well.
Who says the meals have to be dinner anyway? If you have a crew of morning folks, try having breakfast together. Getting up a little earlier will reduce the stress of rushing out of the house to start the day.
Planning ahead is the best way to eat healthier meals. Lack of preparation usually results in "window food" at my house. Go to the market on the weekend after planning out the week's menu. Use this schedule as inspiration to get started:
- Sunday – Family favorite meal
- Monday – Something new
- Tuesday – Prepare something using an ingredient that will expire soon
- Wednesday – Crock pot dinner or one-dish casserole
- Thursday – Leftovers
- Friday – Take out / Window Food
- Saturday – Kids cook
What about the nights of games and practices? Why, a picnic, of course! When planning the meals for the week, you know the nights of practice so prepare something portable. Gourmet sandwiches or whole meals packed into separated plates with lids will do the trick. So much better than hot dogs and nachos from the concession stand!
Again, don't try to take it on all at once. Change that is slow and deliberate is much more permanent. Frequent family dinners have been linked to a very long list of healthy behaviors. Plan now to bring your family back to the dinner table, one meal at a time.
Have a Neat day!
Jennifer Snyder, Certified Professional Organizer
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