By Erin McKenna, RDN, CDN

Eating dinner as a family and involving kids in the process provides many benefits. It has been shown that children who eat dinner with their families tend to be more confident, have higher test scores and better vocabulary.

Kids who eat dinner with their family also tend to eat more fruits and vegetables, and are less likely to become obese. It can be challenging to find the time to sit down and eat as a family. Here are some tips to make family meals quick, simple, delicious, and healthy. 

  • Prepare in advance. Early in the week make a big salad that can last throughout the week. Take out any frozen items that may need to be thawed (eg. chicken cutlets). Having items on hand will help when you’re in a rush.
  • Leftovers are key. You don’t have to cook every night to ensure that you have a healthy meal. Plan to cook 3-4 times a week, and make enough to get you through the next day. For example, instead of making 4 chicken cutlets, make 8. You can switch up how you use it throughout the week. One day you can make chicken salad, one day you can throw it over a salad, and one day you can spread pesto over it and bake it.
  • Have the kids help! Not only will this help with time, but kids are more likely to eat a healthy meal if they helped prepare it.
  • Try to avoid takeout. It may sometimes seem like the best option, but developing a pattern of getting fast food or takeout could lead to weight gain and poor nutrition intake over time. Ultimately, you don’t know 100% of what they are putting in the food, even if seems like a healthy choice.

Take the time to sit down and enjoy a nice meal with your family. It provides so many benefits in additional to spending quality time together!

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Erin McKenna is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who is currently working with Bariatric and Medical Weight Management patients.  She works with patients to help them achieve their health and weight loss goals.