Americans are busier today than ever before. Between kids' sports practices, games on weekends, volunteer commitments, late nights at work, vacations and plain 'ol never-ending laundry there seems to be little time left to eat as a family.
The goal to sit down and eat together quickly becomes a low priority when there are more pressing tasks to be accomplished. And sure, it's quite the feat to eat together EVERY night of the week. Especially when schedules don't sync up.
But, truth be told, eating together as a family is one of the greatest gifts we can give our children, our spouse and ourselves. Studies show eating together as a family increases the likelihood for children to receive better grades, become more apt to making better food choices, are generally happier, and of course, you will bond as a collective family.
Not to mention, eating at home, while it may take a larger time commitment, typically saves families money. Eating out here and there seems small, but purchases add up over time. The average American household spends over $3,000 per year on eating out.
We all know eating as a family is important, but with busy schedules to wrangle how do you accomplish it? Here are 6 ways to make eating as a family a little easier.
1 | "Cook" your meal without cooking it. Alright, we're stating with an obvious one here... but nonetheless, you can save cooking time by preparing make-ahead meal options. Fire up your Instant Pot or Crock Pot and let your meal cook while you're at work or running all those familiar errands. This way, your meal is ready when you're all ready to eat. Here are some yummy "set it and forget it" meals from our kitchen to yours. Don't have an Instant Pot or Crock Pot? Here is our take on the debate of which one to buy.
2 | Schedule family dinner into your week. Business and Life Coach Rachel Hollis, said it perfectly in her podcast: what we prioritize into our schedules is what we make time for. By reserving space to eat together you help prevent the last-minute excuses that result in eating separately. This way, each family member knows that to expect. If you have teenagers, you know it's difficult to peel them away from their friends. Extend a warm invite to friends, too!
3 | Make the meal a family affair. Get more of that special bonding time by making meal prep something the whole family can help with. Not to mention, more helping hands will also save preparation and cook time. By giving each person a task they have more "steak" in the meal. (See what we did there?) Besides, learning how to prepare a tasty meal is a skill we all can continually develop.
5 | Make dinner an event no one can say no to! When the weather is nice, try taking your meal on-the-go to a park near your home. Hang out for a kickball game after supper. This one might sound like something from fantasy-land if you're having difficulty syncing up schedules, but making dinner a special event makes it more enticing to commit time to. Can't make it to the park? Head out to your backyard. Don't have a backyard? Pitch a tent in your living room and camp out for a bit. These special memories are the moments kids remember when they're older.
6 | Make a game of it. Make family mealtime more than mundane by including activities while you're all at the table. Play card games, break out some Table Topics, or maybe even some Monopoly. You can take turns picking the activity to give everyone a chance to weigh in and do what he or she enjoys. This will get everyone more engaged in mealtime and you might also learn a thing or two about each other.
Sometimes all it takes is a simple conversation for others in your family to realize the importance of eating together. Let them know it's important to you and why. Start small if you need to. Shoot for once a month and then work your way up to once a week or more!
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