Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has documented that eating home cooked meals is healthier. And according to the Food Marketing Institute, regular family meals are linked to the positive outcomes we all want for our children: higher grades and self-esteem, healthier eating habits and weights, and less risky behavior.
Every September, during Family Meals Month, families are encouraged to commit to making one more family meal at home each week. Jessica Serdikoff, Registered Dietitian at Brookdale ShopRite, offers these suggestions for committing to one more family meal per week:
- Taste is the number one driver behind our food choices, but chances are, when you’re thinking about providing family meals for your household, you’re also thinking about cost, convenience, and nutrition. It can be tricky to find a meal or product that satisfies all three of those factors: many products that are nutritious and convenient may cost a little bit more money; while many products that are nutritious and affordable may take more time to prepare (e.g. they are less convenient). And of course, sometimes the food that really hits the spot is inexpensive and convenient, but not all that nutritious.
- Making family meals a reality in your household means finding a balance with these three variables that works for your family. If your time is your most limited resource but you want to provide nutritious family meals, then maybe there are ways to adjust your grocery budget to be able to afford some more expensive, convenient products – like chopped butternut squash instead of buying a whole squash to cut up yourself.
- On the other hand, if your budget is feeling a little tight, maybe you can carve out a little extra time to prep some dinner staples ahead of time – like cooking up a whole chicken at the start of the week to use with salads, tacos, casseroles, and soup all week long. Then there will always be those times that both time and money become limited, and letting nutrition take a backseat by picking up your family’s favorite frozen pizza (maybe throw some veggies on the side?) is the solution that keeps dinnertime social, stress-free, and successful.
- At the end of the day, sitting down as a family is more important and beneficial than stressing over cooking the “perfect” meal. That’s why ShopRite has partnered with Family Meals Month this September to offer you solutions and inspiration no matter what life throws your way this season. So go ahead and mix and match these three variables – cost, nutrition, and convenience – in whatever way helps you and your family celebrate Family Meals Month by enjoying one extra meal each week together. Happy cooking!