Nutrition tips

eat better, eat together

Research has found that eating family meals together has many social, physical and emotional benefits for families, especially children. However, many moms' visions of having a Pinterest-worthy table with a healthy, homemade meal (that the kids will actually eat) set in front of smiling and thankful faces sounds daunting, if not impossible. 

If this isn't your reality (that's most of us), then don't feel frazzled or down! Here are 3 simple steps to help reduce the pressure of putting together family meals and make the most of it when you do. 

Family cooking together meals that matter
Family meal time ideas on the good weeknights school
It's the time, not the table, that counts

If your busy schedule takes you away from the table most weeknights, don't worry. You still can have meals that matter, even in the car. 

tip one: think outside the table

Evening activities for different kids at different locations not only splits a family up, but a table is nowhere in the picture. Re-envision your idea of family mealtime at the table. 

Sometimes the location for a family meal is in the minivan on the way to an activity or on a picnic blanket at the sports field. This might not be your perfect idea of a family meal, but it’s the reality for many busy families, so make the most of it! 

While your kids are eating their go-time meal in the back seat, turn off the radio and engage in meaningful conversation. Think of questions that draw more than one-word responses from your kids and don’t forget that moms and dads have to answer, too. Here are a few suggestions to get the conversation started:

  • What made you smile today?
  • Tell me about the book you read today.
  • What are you looking forward to or are excited about?
  • If you could change one thing about your day, what would it be?
  • If you could teach class tomorrow, what would you teach everyone?

Kids involved in cooking math reading science skills
More than a kitchen

Many children love being involved in the kitchen. Cooking together makes memories. But did you know many aspects of cooking can also help reinforce the lessons they are learning at school? 

Tip 2: plan and prep ahead of time

Between busy work schedules, homework, after-school activities, unloading and reloading backpacks for the next day and bedtime routines, getting dinner on the table can be overwhelming. Planning ahead can help your family have time to come together at some point during the week (and save your sanity, too!). 

Take a look at your week’s schedule and figure out what prep you can do to allow your family more time together during the week. For easy make-ahead meals, check out these Slow Cooker recipes and tips on Batch cooking . 

You also can make some wonderful memories by including the kids in the meal prep and reinforcing some of the lessons they're learning in school. 

Family Time in the Kitchen

  • Math - Recipes include fractions, timing, measurements and weights
  • Science - Cooking reactions when ingredients are combined
  • Creativity - What ingredients look and taste well together
  • Reading - Recipes contain new words and are fun to read

Give your kids the opportunity to choose recipes, wash and cut fruits and veggies and set the table. Here’s a great resource for kid-friendly Kitchen Tasks for Every Age. For more Kid-Friendly recipes, visit HERE

spaghetti squash with ground beef recipe for batch cooking busy families
Flexible Meals for families on the go

If you know sports, PTA or other activities will make the week a little hectic, try batch cooking some beef for easy meals on the go. 

Tip 3: Use simple and flexible recipes

Cook Once, Eat Twice

To get more out of your time, prepare 2 pounds of lean ground beef following these 3 Simple Steps for Skillet Cooking Beef. Use half of the prepared beef that evening and save the other half for the next night with a different recipe!

Recipe Suggestions

Sit Down for a Snack

If you can't make family mealtime work every day, then don't stress. Enjoying a 15-minute snack together still can provide a great opportunity to discuss what happened during the day. Try these Healthy Snack Ideas

Spending time together as a family is important. It's unlikely that you'll be able to schedule family mealtime every day, but by making family time a priority, your kids will perceive how important that time is together. So during this busy season of life, don't forget about one of the most important activities that will help your child succeed - family mealtime. 

And if you need some inspiration for family meals, whatever the occasion, remember, Beef, It's What's for Dinner.