Family Mealtimes Matter – All Year Long
Ellie Wilson, MS, RDN Senior Nutritionist
Today marks the original CASA Family Day, promoted by the Center for Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) and Price Chopper since 2001, when their research showed the positive link between more family meals and less negative behavior in at risk teens. Since then, the research keeps showing that eating together is the glue that keeps kids healthy and families strong.
The Family Mealtimes Matter and National Family Meals Month campaigns technically wrap up this week, but they will keep going, in your house and in ours! You will always find great meals and snack solutions in our stores. Did you know, Americans are getting more than 50% of their calories from snacking, making snack time another great time for busy families to eat together. Snacks can help parents add more plant-based items to the foods they serve their children, promoting good habits and good health. It doesn’t have to be fancy, or at a specified time, or even served on a plate! Please, join us at the table whenever you can find time with your family – Family Mealtimes Matter! #familymealtimesmatter #familymealsmonth Family Mealtimes Matter – Chef’s Menu Meals Make it Easy
Ellie Wilson, MS, RDN Senior Nutritionist
Eating with your family each night is a priority for your family. Life is so busy – your kids have activities and homework, the dog is barking, laundry in the washer, even the gold fish is trying to get your attention – and everyone is hungry! You want to make this happen, but can’t even think about what to cook…..then you remember, you bought the Chef’s Menu chicken marsala meal – sauté the fresh cut veggies, then the chicken, add the simmer sauce (not too high in sodium, nice!), warm up the wild rice – you’re done, and they love it! One pan, happy faces around the table, some precious time to hear about their day, share yours, and feel good about the fresh meal you made for your family. A little bit leftover will make a great lunch for you tomorrow….everyone cleans up, and 5 minutes later, the dog is barking, the laundry is in the dryer, and the kids give you a kiss “just because”…
The Chef’s Menu meals are a huge hit – great variety, portioned well, classic recipes and some new flavor adventures to try, they tick a lot of boxes for busy families. Fresh produce, cut and ready to cook, and delicious, nutritious sides that take just a few minutes to warm up, they help you put it all together.
Family Mealtimes Matter – try them all, mix and match – over 40 combinations to enjoy!
Ellie Wilson, MS, RDN
Family time is precious and rare in our busy lives these days, but there is a big opportunity ensure your family is stronger and your children have the skills they need to navigate in our distracted, over-scheduled world – it is the simple, old-fashioned family meal that can nurture and protect them in very significant ways.
We have been highlighting some easy power bowl meals all month to help you with the
time/budget/#everyonelikesit part – now we have some fun tips on the table talk part.
The simple act of chatting around a meal gives your children better social skills, and builds communication connections. Given how busy we all are, it is sometimes hard not to use that time to discuss chores, or grades, or sports. Those conversations are important, but maybe we can inspire you to finish with them rather than start. Help build your children’s confidence and emotional intelligence with some simple questions and conversation starters. Tip – have everyone put whatever phone/device they use on silent, and leave them in a basket in a different room until your mealtime clean-up is done. Play games when they are little, and get different topics going as they get older. Check out these ideas from our Pinterest board
! Ellie Wilson, MS, RDN
Tailgating is a time-honored tradition – in fact, there is real history behind the practice, according to the American Tailgaters Association, starting with spectators “attending” the 1861 Battle of Bull Run in Virginia with food and wine, cheering on their Civil War “teams”. Chuck wagons, those traveling kitchens of the prairie, are also part of lore. The first football game, between Princeton and Rutgers, (145 years ago!), though it pre-dated cars and parking lots, saw the first fans wear team colors and bring picnics, and the modern-day tailgate party tradition began.
Now, it may be a professional sport event, or your son’s football games. It can be a
music event, or your daughter’s soccer league – tailgating is a great way to enjoy meals and snacks with friends and family. For a delicious gathering that scores big taste, check out these tips and recipes!
- Keep perishables cold – even though the weather is cooler, meats and other perishable items should be kept in a cooler with ice packs.
- Canned plus fresh makes it easy – hot or cold fried chicken with canned three bean salad or sliced cooked kielbasa with horseradish sour cream dip and canned German potato salad are two easy ways to make it fun and fast.
- Don’t forget the can opener, napkins, and canned beverages – most venues do not allow glass.
Make your own playbook with these ideas and more recipes on our Pinterest board
. Go Team! #FamilyMealtimesMatter
September is National Family Meals™ month, and we are celebrating with our annual Family Mealtimes Matter campaign! With our community partners, the Times Union and Cornell Cooperative Extension, we will be sharing recipes, blogs, videos, articles, Facebook posts, tweets and other resources about family meals.
We are all so busy, for many, meals together have been moved out of family schedules. They should be a time to enjoy and connect! Commit to one more meal together as a family each week – the National Family Meals month goal to bring families together with food. You will enjoy family-building benefits that make this investment a lifetime win for parents and children.
Meals don’t have to be perfectly nutritious, or only happen at dinnertime, or even be served on a plate – just being together and sharing food offers everyone big benefits. Children and teens that have frequent family meals:
- Eat more healthfully
- Have a healthier weight, and are less apt to develop eating issues
- Have better social skills
- Have positive peer relationships
- Have lower levels of tension and stress
- Get better grades
- Are likelier to say they can confide in their parents
- Are at half the risk for substance abuse compared to teens who dine infrequently with families
Join us, and the National Family Meal month movement to Raise Your Mitt and Commit to one more meal per week with your family!
Check out our favorite mealtime resources below!