It’s not just what you feed your kids, but if you eat with them, that’s important!
Over and over, studies show that families who eat meals together benefit by having decreased risks of their children developing obesity, using alcohol or other drugs. They also perform better in school, tend to be happier, have positive peer relations and a decreased risk of suicide.
How can sitting down together to eat make all the difference? Part of it is that family meals generally promote healthy portions, include more fruits and vegetables and fewer fried foods. And, there is the advantage of having conversation between parent and child without the distractions of phones, TV or computers.
A family meal doesn’t have to be a feast laid out on the dining room table. A meal with food from each food group and the family talking together qualifies. Eating away from home can be a family meal if you are sitting down talking to each other while you eat.
If you want more information on this subject, check out Family meal time blog post on The Science of Parenting site, a new online resource from Iowa State University Extension. The purpose of the blog is to communicate research-based information on current/hot parenting topics.
-pointers from Peggy
I love to talk about family mealtime – it reminds me of happy memories of my childhood and all the conversations we shared around meals! I didn’t realize then how important our time together was, nor how much money we saved by eating at home. It’s true, though, families can save money by eating at home. When you eat out or use processed foods, you buy labor as well as the food.
So, how do you save money by eating together at home? Spend Smart Eat Smart website has lots of great ideas for saving money as you prepare meals. Prepare double or triple batches of favorite recipes to have on hand when you are in a hurry. Save money when you buy ingredients in quantity to make several batches. Make a list of foods that cook quickly and save time, such as scrambled eggs, fruit and toast; stir fry meat and veggies.
Keep meals simple and easy – a family meal together doesn’t have to be elaborate or include expensive ingredients. A simple meal, eaten with others while sharing conversation, is worth more than the most elaborately prepared dish. What I remember is how good it felt to gather around the table and share. Don’t let this simple concept become lost in the busy-ness of everyday life.
We’d love to hear from you about ways you’ve found to carve out time for meals with your family and saved money at the same time!
-contributed by Patty Steiner