By Mary Schroeder, Extension Educator — Health and Nutrition
Family meals give parents and children an important opportunity to create close bonds and lifelong memories. Family meals also allow parents to be good role models for their children regarding eating habits. As a parent, when you make healthy food choices and regularly try new foods, your children are more likely to eat healthy foods and explore new foods, too.
Try these easy ways to make family meals a pleasant part of your family routine.
Find time for family meals. Eating together can be a challenge with busy schedules. Look at your calendar and find times when all family members will be home. If it doesn’t work to have a family meal in the evening, try having breakfast together as a family.
Make it simple, make it quick! Your family meal doesn’t have to be a fancy. Simple meals, even cold sandwiches, taste as good as meals that take more work. You can make any meal special if you all feel relaxed and if mealtime is filled with caring and laughter.
Show that family meals are important. During mealtime, turn off the TV, put phones away and don’t bring technology gadgets to the table. Make this a time to enjoy visiting with family members at the table.
Enjoy meal talk. Have pleasant conversations. This means no nagging or complaining. Talk so everyone can be a "star" at mealtime. Don’t take over. Your child will listen and learn by feeling included.
Be realistic about mealtime. Try to sit down together. Keep meals from lasting too long. If kids get fussy, your family meal won’t be fun.
Try these easy meal ideas:
Source: Nibbles for Health - USDA