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Family Meal Time Tips from the Family Fit & Fun Night

by | Sep 5, 2013 | Healthy Living, Nutrition Info

Odom Health & Wellness is unable to provide nutrition and weight loss services for individuals living outside of Minnesota

We’ve been recapping the Family Fit & Fun Night that Odom Health & Wellness hosted this past June. The purpose of the event was to 1. Get families out and active together and give them the opportunity to 2. Eat a healthy meal together as a family. Staying active as a family and family meal time are so important and OHW wants to help make it happen more often.Healthy Family Meals

Check out our blog HERE to see how we got families out and active together and learn how you can recreate your own Family Fit & Fun Night in your backyard with fun obstacle course and game ideas.

Let’s dive into the food part of the evening and show you how to recreate family meal time in your kitchen too.

Whole Foods Market-Minnetonka provided a delicious and healthy meal for the event. Here’s the menu that you can recreate for a family dinner:

  • Tomato, Cucumber and Feta Greek Salad
  • Choice of:
    • Grilled Teriyaki Chicken Breast
    • All Natural Veggie Burger
  • Assortment of Grains to Choose from:
    • Whole Wheat Burger Bun
    • Whole Grain Roll (Whole Foods makes these rolls and they are absolutely delicious)
    • Gluten Free Bun
  • Make Your Own Fruit Kabob with pineapple, strawberries, watermelon and grapes
  • Assortment of milk chocolate and 70% dark chocolate squares

We gave a short presentation on why family meals are so important and tips on how to make them happen weekly. You can download the handouts and worksheets we gave out as well.family meal tips

Healthy Snacking Worksheet for Parents

Cook Healthy with the Kids Handout

10 Fast Dinner Ideas Handout

Family Meals are Extremely Important and Have Health and Lifestyle Benefits

Research has shown us that families who eat meals together regularly

  • eat more fruits and vegetables overall
  • eat less fried food, soda and foods high in saturated fat and trans fat
  • eat more fiber, calcium, iron, vitamins B6, B12, C and E
  • have better academic performance
  • have better communication skills in general

Children, Pre-Teens and Teenagers who share family meals 3 or more times per week

  • are more likely to be in and maintain a normal and healthy weight range long-term
  • learn healthy eating patterns and maintain healthier eating patterns later in life

And get this! Teens who eat family meals at least 5-7 times a week are:

  • 4x less likely to use tobacco
  • 2x less likely to use alcohol
  • 2.5x less likely to use marijuana

Ok, so you understand family meals are important and beneficial but how the stink do you get groceries, have all the ingredients you need, have time to actually make a meal that everyone will eat, juggle carpool and after school activities, and have everyone sit down at the table longer than the time it takes to shovel half the plate down?

Tips to Making Family Meals Happen

  1. Make it a priority. Even if it takes a family meeting or a group text to get everyone on the same page, communicate to everyone in the family that family meals are important and you want/expect everyone to be there
  2. Make a Plan
    1. Look at schedules ahead of time and pick the day, time and meal that makes the most sense.
    2. Breakfast, lunch, dinner and planned snacks count
    3. Involve the family and tell each person what they can do
    4. If you can plan out in advance, post meal times and the food on a calendar, send a text or tell everyone so the family knows what to expect
    5. Make a grocery list! Everyone can contribute to the list and it will guarantee that you have the ingredients you need
  3. Keep it simple
    1. Think in food buckets: veggies, fruit, healthy protein, whole grain starch, milk or dairy on the side
    2. Pre-washed salad; pre-cut veggies; pre-assembled vegetable dishes
    3. Frozen fruit and veggies or canned in their own juice (not syrup)
    4. Long-lasting produce (look for places that sell restaurant quality)
    5. Fresh and pre-prepared meals from grocery stores like Whole Foods are a simple alternative
    6. Start a recipe box that the whole family can contribute to
  4. Prepare over the weekend
    1. Prepare main dishes that will keep well or that can be spread over several different meals
      1. Grill 12 chicken breasts on Sunday afternoon
      2. Cook a large pot of lentils and beans
      3. Cook oatmeal and refrigerate for quick reheating later
    2. Pre-wash and pre-cut fruits and veggies. See how one mom prepares yummy salad fixins and healthy veggie snacks ahead of time so her kids can grab it and run out the door HERE.
    3. Make meals and freeze them for later. If you are making a crowd favorite, double the recipe and freeze the leftovers. If you are super motivated, spend a few hours on the weekend preparing and freezing meals to reheat during the week.
  5. Be Flexible
    1. Be ok with: healthy pre-prepared foods; late-night dinners; breakfast on the go; healthy takeout that you serve on plates at the table; family meals in the car; family meals in healthy restaurants
    2. If you have picky eaters, prepare the meal for the family with options you know the picky eater will like but set the standard that everyone eats at the table.
    3. Think positively and creatively if your plans go awry, if someone is late, if the meal isn’t ready, if the meal burns….A fun, tried and true fall back is to toss healthy sandwich ingredients (healthy tuna salad, natural deli meat, veggies and hummus, whole wheat bread/pits, natural peanut butter, etc) into a basket and walk/ride bikes/drive to a park for a picnic or lay out a blanket in an odd place in the house for an indoor picnic.

healthy family meals