By Rilee Froehling, RDN, LD
As work and family commitments grow, the all-important family meal can fall to the wayside. Here are a few ideas to make time for family meals with a busy schedule:
1. Plan it Out
- Make a basic meal plan for the week and grocery shop to have the items on hand. It is ideal to grocery shop one time a week to save time and money.
- Stock basic items in your pantry like frozen vegetables, canned beans, and whole grain pasta so you will be able to add to and adjust the meal plan.
- Prepare multiple batches of main ingredients like pulled chicken or ground beef and keep the extras in the freezer for back up.
2. Keep it Simple
- Choose recipes that are simple and have minimal ingredients. Save the recipes that take longer to prepare for weekends or special occasions.
- Freezer and pre-packaged meals are high in sodium so try to rely on them less often. It’s okay to throw in a few a month when you need an even quicker family meal.
3. Ask for Help
- Parents don’t have to be the only ones in the kitchen. Kids can help with setting the table, cutting produce, and stirring sauces. Getting kids involved in meal prep and grocery shopping can make them more excited about cooking and eating healthy.
4. Make it Fun
- Pick a special theme for a meal and plan coordinating decorations. Throw a blanket on the floor and have a picnic meal. Or wear hula skirts and leis for a Hawaiian themed night including pulled pork and fresh fruit.
- Choose a new playlist each night to add variety and conversation to the meal.
- Get interactive with your family members and play a game to wrap up the meal. Some ideas include: 20 Questions, 2 Truths and 1 Lie, Never Have I Ever, and Categories.