Planning healthy family meals isn’t always easy, but we are convinced that having family meals together is always worth it. We understand that it can seem difficult to get well-balanced meals on the table during busy nights juggling sports, dance class, homework, and work or school events. Despite the challenge, the benefits of eating healthy family meals together outweigh the obstacles of achieving them. First, get the whole family on board to committing to a new, daily ritual and then follow these tips to get started and stick with it.
Out of every tip that we could possibly give you to help with balancing busy schedules and healthy family meals, there is one that is of utmost importance: planning. Planning is essential in order to develop the daily “habit” of sharing meals together. Planning ahead will help you decide on meals that the whole family will enjoy, help organize your shopping lists and pantry, and help ease the stress of preparing the meals since each meal will be chosen in advance and the ingredients will already be on hand.
Keep it simple
Family meals don’t have to be complicated to be healthy. Find easy ways to balance your meals, such as by having simple vegetable sides or fruit and yogurt for dessert. There’s a plethora of healthy one-pot and/or slow cooker recipes available. Take advantage of the ease of these kinds of meals and save on the cooking time and clean-up. We find some of our favorite, simple recipes on Tasty.
Some nights are busier than others and you just can’t squeeze in the time to prepare a full meal before you rush to your next appointment/commitment. Choose a couple of your favorite healthy family meals and make double batches of them on nights where you have more free time. By taking the time to do a little additional food prep on quiet nights, you’ll be making life a little easier for yourself on the more hectic ones because all you’ll have to do is pull the meal out of the freezer in the morning, and heat and serve in the evening.
Share the work
Recruit help from the family for each meal. Assign everyone a role, from helping with the planning, shopping, and meal prep, and from setting the table to clean-up. By making mealtime a family effort, no single family member is burdened with the chore of preparing every meal from start to finish. Additionally, by making mealtime a family affair, you will also be teaching your children responsibility and other life skills that will help them in the future.
Ditch the guilt
There are going to be nights where the family meal doesn’t happen. Life has a way of creating obstacles, and you can’t jump them all. Instead of beating yourself up about filling your kids up with fast, fried food on one of those nights, just let it go and return to the healthy family meal routine the next night.
Family meals don’t have to be dinner. If breakfast or lunchtime meals are more practical for getting your family together, then make it happen. By pledging to get your family together for at least one, nutritious meal a day as often as possible, you will be ensuring that your family is taking in the proper nutrition they deserve, and you’ll be strengthening your family as a whole. You just might be surprised at the changes you could see in your family members.