Thursday, October 12, 2006

Bring Back Family Meals

Last night I had another great meal with my mother! Although Mom and I have very busy schedules (she is in graduate school getting her second master’s degree at 57!), we meet every Wednesday night for a sit-down, home cooked meal and a movie.

I grew up in a very traditional family. Every night I enjoyed a delicious family meal with my parents and sister, and on Sundays we would join the extended family for brunch or dinner at my grandparents’ house.

My grandfather Bud loved to make his grandchildren laugh during our family meals!

The comfort and warmth of a meal with family makes us feel grounded and connected. It is the perfect time to catch up and to enjoy each other’s company in the midst of busy days. The American Psychological Association published a study in 1997 that proves that family meals take a major role in the lives of teenagers and young children. The association’s studies found that well- adjusted teenagers (teens with healthier friendships who are more motivated academically and avoid common peer pressures) ate dinner with their families at least five times a week. The University of Minnesota and the University of North Carolina found similar results in their study on family meals.

Even if your family is spread out all over the country, getting together with your social family is equally important. I do both! On Wednesday nights I eat dinner with my mother and on Friday nights I get together with my closest friends. These meals break up my busy work schedule and are very refreshing.


  • Begin slowly. The trick is to not get overwhelmed with preparations or burned out on the concept. Start adding one sit-down meal to your schedule each week. Gradually increase your family meals at a comfortable rate.

  • Choose easy meals. The quality of the food at your family meal should not be the initial focus; although, later you will find that offering picky children healthy food will become easier as your sit down meals become more familiar. In the beginning, keep it simple. Even make-your-own-pizza night would be fun for your entire group and low stress for you! For “social families”, stick to potlucks. Let everyone bring their favorite.

  • Get everyone involved. Children love to be included in projects and to feel “helpful”. This is especially true in a low stress, happy environment. Ask your children to help pour beverages or to set the table. You may also get them involved with meal planning. This will give you the opportunity to guide them towards healthier options.

  • Keep family meals enjoyable. Give each person time to talk about their day, and avoid negative conversation. This is also a great time to discuss upcoming events and holidays.

  • Turn off the TV and cell phones. Taking time out of your day to enjoy your loved ones without interruption is refreshing and can make you feel more efficient when you return phone calls and return your focus to work.

  • Be creative. Family meals can take place at any meal time and anywhere! If your schedule is too busy at night with sporting events and board meetings, pack a picnic dinner to share between events, meet for lunch instead, or plan to have breakfast together.

  • One wonderful way to celebrate your family meals is to create a family cookbook! Create a family cookbook to give your older children as reminders of your time together. Create a cookbook full of dinner party recipes for your social group. Start your cookbook project today with a free trial!
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At 11:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I completely agree! Family meals are wonderful. Unfortunately mine lives 3,000 miles away so we'll have to put those on hold for now. :(

Ari (Baking and Books)


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