How to Get the Most out of National Family Meal Month
Did you know that August is not only when kids go back to school but also Family Meals Month? With summer coming to a close that means activities, sports and homework are gearing up for a busy fall.
Is the following a common scenario for you? Get home from work only to get back in the car and drive your kids to their activities. Of course, football practice ran long so you decide to swing through the drive-thru. Everyone eats in the car because they have to study and clean up when they get home. I hear situations like this on a daily basis. Fact is, we are so busy we forgot the importance of making time to prepare and eat meals together. Will it happen every day? Probably not, but here are some steps you can take to make it happen more often.
Pick a day on the weekend to look at your activities for the next week and plan meals according to your schedule. This helps with purchasing groceries and prepping food. It can also help with reducing food waste (like when you forgot that zucchini laying in the back of the crisper drawer, that is now moldy), and last minute food cost from running through that drive-thru that was so convenient. Do as much as you can ahead of time: Cut vegetables, make sauces, marinade and grill meats. This will save time and energy when it comes to getting dinner on the table.
Embrace the new fall schedule by planning ahead for success with family meals. Here are some other tips to try:
• Purchase sale items at the grocery store and build your meal around that item.
• Chop vegetables ahead of time so they can easily be added to a stir-fry or sautéed as a simple side with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
• Embrace the crockpot! Look through cookbooks, Pinterest and websites to get ideas your family will love.
• Have everyone in your family take turns planning meals. Assign each family member a night to plan the meal from start to finish.
Get everyone involved
When it comes to getting the meal on the table, recruit help! Even little ones can help get silverware, fill up water or set napkins on the table.
Get rid of distractions
Family mealtime is meant for everyone to talk and reconnect, especially after a busy day. Turn off the TV. Leave phones, iPods, and tablets in the other room. Maximize your time by catching up with each other to discuss the adventures of the day. If you have young children in the house, mealtime is a way for them to explore new foods.
Ellen Thomsen, MS, RD, LMNT, CDE is a clinical dietitian at CHI Health, working in Oncology and Functional nutrition. Ellen helps patients improve nutrition habits during cancer treatment and beyond. She is a group fitness instructor at the CHI Health Lakeside Wellness Center and enjoys helping people of all fitness abilities be active. Ellen is passionate about helping patients improve their lives through nutrition, activity and stress management.