We believe in the importance of family meal time and recognize that all members of the family may not have the same dietary needs or ways of eating. Hear from our friend Hope, @thelocalplanteaster on why she feels family dinners are important & learn some tips on how to be a part of family meals even when on a specific diet or following your own health goals.

We all love to bond over food. Whenever there is a celebration or a gathering, there is a 99% chance, that food will be involved. Think about it: Weddings, anniversaries, birthday parties, large events, team meetings, and even funerals. We all sit around, gathered by food!

We all know that life has its moments of being very hectic. For some, it may seem like it would be easier to just forget about family dinner time. Between everyone’s jobs, school sports, and trying to work around everyone’s schedule, it seems more efficient if everyone just “fends for themselves”, skips dinner, or just takes it on the go. But truly, the timer together is invaluable and sometimes it’s just a matter of making a plan to ensure mealtime happens. Though September is National Family Meals Month™, hopefully, these tips will help you find the time to enjoy at least one more meal together any time of the year!

Benefits of Family Meal Time –

Since we are all always so busy, and often running from one activity to the other, we don’t have a lot of family time together even though deep down we know that family meals are extremely important. If you have plans every night after work, you won’t see your family until the weekend.  It’s not just the quality time that is spent with one another, there are many studies that go to show how family meals can help with the development of children, form healthy eating habits for all, and lower anxiety and depression.

Dinner is the time when everyone can go over their day, and share any worries, exciting moments, or anything they feel called to discuss. When we have had a very busy or hard day, knowing that you get to come home to a people who love you, and want to listen to you while surrounded by a nourishing meal, is not something to take for granted.

Be Prepared with a Plan –

Aside from eating dinner all together, comes the preparation of food together. It helps everyone learn how to prepare healthy meals and appreciate all of the work that goes into preparing dinner rather than just expecting one individual from the household to always have it ready. Start by ensuring that you have fresh greenhouse grown vegetables on hand like RedRoyals® Sweet Cherry Tomatoes On-the-Vine.  Making healthy choices is that much easier when you have ingredients on hand. It also helps to introduce healthy foods to families. When parents monitor what their kids are eating, it helps them to choose healthier options, incorporates different types of fruits and vegetables, and ensures that they are eating all of the food on their plates for good health and development.

Think of Everyone around the table –

With the rise of food intolerances, and rising diet changes, if a family member is on a specific diet, for example – plant-based, in no way does that mean they have to miss out on family dinners. If anything, it brings more diversity and excitement to the kitchen.

If you are trying to work around your own diet or a family member’s, a great thing to do is to make a schedule throughout the week for each night on who is in charge of dinner. Schedule a family member to be in charge of choosing what is for dinner, getting the ingredients, and then cooking the meal together. For example Monday night: Cucumber Edamame Sushi Bowls, Tuesday night: Vegan Lasagna Skillet…. etc. Or, make a list of all of the main and side dishes each family member enjoys the most, then find ways to incorporate it into the weekly dinners.

Family members on a specific diet may feel like they might miss out on the family quality time due to trying to figure out what they are going to eat every night. In this case, they may want to turn to meal prepping! Meal prepping certain dishes, like a Vegan Lasagna Skillet, salads, soups, and stews, can also help to make family dinners easier to accommodate everyone’s wishes and taste buds. Having family members keep an open mind, and an understanding of your diet can help tremendously. You can easily find recipes that are plant-based, and that can convince everyone to be the “real” deal!

Enjoy the time “together” –

Although September is National Families Meals Month, it’s important to always make time to enjoy a meal together with those that you love. Put the phones away, turn off the TV, and enjoy the family quality time, all while keeping an open mind to explore different kinds of foods, together!

~ Hope