Why We Support National Family Meals Month™
Get excited, because September is National Family Meals Month™! Consistently eating together as a family has incredible benefits for kids and adults alike – it can foster emotional balance, fuel better nutrition, and even improve academic performance. There are so many reasons to eat more family meals together – so why aren’t people doing it more often?
Our lives have become busy beyond belief. With so many things on the go, it’s all too easy for family meal-times to take a backseat to all the other commitments we heap onto our plates. But despite hectic schedules, people are still hungry for help in the kitchen – they know they should be spending more quality time around the dinner table with their families, and they are constantly searching for ways to do it. Yet somehow, it still proves difficult for many families to consistently spend more meal-times together.
We want to let you know that yes, eating more family meals together is indeed possible – if you and your loved ones are willing to come up with a game plan and make simple changes to your eating habits.
It’s time to develop a fresh perspective on family meals – let’s get started!
4 Realistic Ways to Make Family Meals a Priority
With a quick internet search, you can find plenty of tips and tricks for eating more family meals together – but most of them aren’t as realistic as you need them to be.
Here are 4 tips for prioritizing family meals that are straightforward and realistic:
- Stick to a schedule with set meal-times
- Involve the entire family in meal making
- Set the table for meals (and nothing else)
- Make the dinner table a ‘no phone zone’
These four simple tips will transform the way you and your family share meals together – guaranteed!
Every family seems to have the same problem – when it comes to planning family time, there are so many schedules to work around that it often feels like no one is available at the same time.
This National Family Meals Month™, we challenge you to create a meal-time schedule – and for you to stick to it! At the beginning of the week, take stock of all the commitments in your family’s calendar and schedule meal-times that work best for everyone.
Here are some tips for scheduling meal-times that will make it easier to prioritize eating together as a family:
- Communicate your family meal goals to the rest of your family so that everyone can get on board.
- Try to keep meal-times scheduled for roughly the same time every day. This will make it easier for everyone to remember what time your family plans on sharing a meal together!
- Don’t limit yourself to only sharing dinner together – if you have a busy evening with lots of sports and events going on, prioritize sharing breakfast together instead.
- Be realistic with your scheduling and give yourself the time you know you will need to get healthy food on the table, and everyone fed – all while enjoying your meal and quality time spent with your family!
Creating a meal-time schedule – and sticking to it – is a great way to start making meal-times a priority for your family. Before long, a meal-time schedule will become an easy routine!
Getting Everyone Involved
When everyone is involved in the meal-making process, a greater connection is built between each family member and the meal they helped to create.
Here are a few creative ways to ensure every member of the family gets involved in the meal-making process:
- Ask different members of your family to help plan meals for the week ahead. They can vote on what they would like to eat on a certain night of the week, pick up special ingredients at the grocery store, or help meal prep veggies or grains on the weekend.
- There are endless opportunities for kids young and old to get involved in the kitchen. Check out The Complete Guide to Getting Kids in the Kitchen – our free resource that includes expert tips, age-appropriate task ideas, and recipe inspiration that will encourage your little ones to develop a love for fresh eating and helping out in the kitchen!
- Assign each member of your family a meal-time task that they enjoy. Setting the table, grating the cheese, mixing the salad and dressing, pouring everyone’s drinks, or packing up leftovers for lunches are just a few examples of simple activities that can get every family member involved!
There is a job for everyone when it comes to making meals. The most important thing to remember is that if everyone is getting involved at meal-times, there are more opportunities being created to connect, communicate, and make memories together as a family.
Setting the Table
This may seem like a simple tip, but it can have a huge impact on reshaping your family’s perspective on family meal-time.
Many people set the table when they have special guests over for a meal, but why can’t we set the table for the ones we love the most – our own families? When you set the table, you are making an intentional choice to sit down together, enjoy one another’s company, and focus on the delicious food you’ve prepared.
Set your table up for success by doing the following:
- Don’t let your table become a catch-all space. Make a conscious effort to leave your kitchen table free of loose papers or other random items. Remember – the only thing that should be getting placed on your table are dishes and a prepared meal!
- If someone in your family enjoys setting the table, assign them that meal-time task. This is an easy way to make sure the table gets set before every meal and that more people are getting involved in the meal-making process!
- When creativity strikes, get fancy! Use fun and festive table decorations, learn different ways to fold napkins, or break out the fancy china occasionally. These details will draw the attention of your family and break the ice for fun dinner conversation.
If you want to prioritize sharing more meals, set the dinner table and create an atmosphere that encourages conversation and genuine family connection.
Turning Off the Screens
This fourth and final tip is about more than just limiting interruptions at meal-times – it’s about developing genuine relationships that are built through face-to-face interactions. Here are some realistic ways you can make your dinner table a ‘phone free zone’:
- Set boundaries and institute a rule: No phones at the table, not no phones during dinner. By disallowing screens at the table altogether, you can avoid people whipping out their phones as soon as their last forkful of food is in their mouth. Eating together needs to be viewed as more than just the act of eating – it’s also about the act of spending quality time together.
- One of the best ways to break someone else’s bad habit is to lead by example. Make a conscious effort to leave your phone in another room when meal-time rolls around – that way, your family will see that you are taking family meal-times seriously and they will (hopefully) follow your lead.
- Talk, look, listen – three simple actions that can have a huge impact on keeping your family engaged with each other during meal-times. By encouraging your family members to have fun conversations, listen to each other’s stories, and simply make eye contact with each other while spending time together, a screen-free dinner table quickly becomes easy to achieve!
Commit to More Family Meals Today!
Head to the National Family Meals Month™ campaign webpage for more information about the movement, including research on the benefits of family meal-time, recipe resources, and spotlights on how partners just like us are celebrating family meal-time.
With these realistic tips for sharing more meals with your family, we believe you can confidently commit to prioritizing family meal-time – even if that means eating just one more meal a week together.