Making Time for Dinner Time

Now that school is back in session, you may find that you’re family is running in all different directions. Homework, clubs, sports, group projects… the list can go on and on! Unfortunately, sitting down for family dinner is usually placed last on the to-do list, and often falls by the wayside.

It’s time to make a change and prioritize family dinner once again. Winding down at the table to share a meal teaches children the importance of nutrition and how to build a healthy, balanced plate. It also allows for fewer distractions, which helps them pay better attention to their hunger and fullness cues. Family dinner will promote healthy habits while also getting extra family time in- sounds like a win/win!

If you feel like there’s no way you have time to fit it in- maybe you just have to take a look at your strategy. Dinner does not have to be an elaborate meal in order to be delicious, satisfying and healthy. Make more family meals happen with these tips:

Dinner Place Setting

Make a schedule! Take a look at the calendar and choose a time that will work for all or most of your family members. This may mean eating a little earlier or later than you are accustomed to, but you’re body will get used to it. Mark ‘family meal’ on the time that works best each day and commit to it like you would any other appointment.

Plan ahead! Write down what you plan to serve for dinner each night of the week. This will save you time having to ponder what you want to make, but more importantly you can buy all ingredients needed over the weekend-preventing the need to make a hurried stop after work. In addition, there will be less temptation to swing by the drive thru if you already have a meal in mind.

Prepare! Complete any meal prep that you can over the weekend to make the cooking process even quicker. Slice up the veggies you will need in advance and keep them in little containers so they are ready to go. You can also cook and freeze an entrée; just heat it up later on it the week!

Keep it Simple! Again, no one is expecting you to prepare an elaborate meal with 20 ingredients. Look for recipes with short ingredient lists and minimal prep time. Aim for a balanced meal that provides lean protein, complex carbohydrate, fruits and veggies.

Get the kids involved! As always, have the kids help with the food shopping and cooking. Not only will it be nice to have the extra hands, but it is also a great way to get kids excited about nutrition and making healthy choices. They are also much more likely to eat their veggies if they had a part in choosing and preparing them.

Making time for family dinner often just requires a bit of planning and prioritizing. What are the biggest barriers to incorporating family dinner for you?

Check out these recipes for quick healthy meals ideas!
http://greatist.com/health/52-healthy-meals-12-minutes-or-less
http://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/recipe-collections-favorites/quick-easy/easy-healthy-dinner-recipes-00100000074775/page2.html#6
http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20415761,00.html

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