Think back for just a minute. Did you grow up having dinner around the family table? Enjoy weeknight meals where everyone caught up on their day? For many American children, the idea of having dinner together as a family is a foreign concept. With growing evidence showing that children who have dinner with their family each night have decreased chances of drug use, depression and sexual interactions, it is clear this nightly tradition helps solidify the bonds of family. Included here are a few tips to make family dinners a nightly tradition in your home.
Make It Simple
A big obstacle in the way of family dinners is the pressure to put out an elaborate meal. Now you may not be doing a five-course dinner, but even pressuring yourself to have separate meat, starches, salads and desserts can be a lot after you get home from work. Cut yourself some slack and you are more likely to achieve family dinner goals.
One of the very best ways to save money and keep dinner simple and easy is to utilize your crockpot. Crockpot dinners are a great way to be sure there is something cooking for when you arrive home. By making simple crockpot soups, you can combine healthy fiber from beans or barley; with lean red meat proteins like beef or wild game; and finish it up with plenty of healthy veggies, like carrots or zucchini.
Crockpots are a great way for making dinner, but do require a bit of advance prep. If you just didn’t have the time to handle that, there are plenty of other simple options. Embrace tomato soup with grilled cheese, you-fix-it salads, homemade pizzas on english muffins or steamed veggies over rice. All of these are fairly healthy, affordable, quick options that can be done quickly so the family can come together.
Cook With Your Kids
Studies have shown that children who are allowed to have input in the creation of a meal are more likely to try new foods and clean their plates. A great method to encourage eating veggies is to allow your child to pick between one or two healthy items and choose how they are prepared. This will help them having a closer relationship with their food and better odds of continuing a healthy diet into adulthood.
Utilize the Family Snack
Families with young children can often have a difficult time keeping kids content until dinner. Coming home from school usually equals hungry kids and they want to eat immediately. A great way to fill their tummy voids during this space of time is to set out fresh veggies. Utilize the pre-washed variety at your grocery store for speed. Consider setting out baby carrots, broccoli florets and snap peas with hummus to give the kids a healthy snack before supper.