Surviving family mealtime in 5 simple steps

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FEATURE — If family mealtime is your least favorite part of the day, you are in need of a family mealtime survival guide.

Families need time together to reconnect. Regular family mealtime provides the opportunity to learn, to grow and to teach. Even 15 minutes a day will add up to hours over time, and those hours will add up to stronger family unity and healthier, happier kids.

So here you go! How to survive family mealtime in five easy steps:

Keep it simple

Your focus should be more on the time spent together and less on elaborate meals. Conversation had over a bowl of cold cereal can be just as enlightening as conversation over a seven-course dinner.

Pick simple, easy-to-cook meals that you know your family will enjoy. Here are five of my favorite simple recipes:

Plan ahead

Time together may take some extra thought. If dinner together as a family every night of the week isn’t realistic, aim for a few nights a week. If someone works swing shift, skip family dinner and have family breakfast.

Stock photo courtesy of USU Extension Create Better Health blog, St. George News

Look at each family member’s schedule for the week and find time to come together. If one family member can’t make it, don’t count it out altogether. Take a look at this post from The Family Dinner Project about “split shift” family dinners.

Get everyone involved

You have probably heard the saying, “many hands make light work.” Don’t let the burden of family mealtime fall on the shoulders of just one person. Assign each family member a task during preparation or cleanup, ask family members to plan the menu for the week or ask for help with grocery shopping to get the whole family involved. Click here for ideas for kids of all ages.

Talk to each other

Attention on devices or television shows won’t help build family unity. Put electronics and other entertainment aside, and redirect your attention to each other. Focus on building each other up and learning more about each other. Try these conversation starters or play a game of “Would You Rather?” as you enjoy the meal.

Work on family goals

At the beginning of the month, set a goal as a family. Wanting to exercise more, eat more fruits and veggies, read a book together, fight less or take a family vacation all make great goals. At each family mealtime, discuss the progress you’ve made toward your goal or areas that need improvement. Find a family goal sheet to track your progress here.

With these five steps, you are ready to survive family mealtime.

For more ideas and activities for a successful family mealtime, click here.

And for a simple recipe to try, Crunchy Hawaiian Chicken Wrap, click here. A little time to cook the chicken and to chop the veggies is all you need. Serve it with a glass of milk and a sliced apple for a well-rounded MyPlate meal. Enjoy!

Written by CANDI MERRITT, Certified Nutrition Education Ambassador.

This article originally appeared Sept. 27, 2018, on the USU Extension Create Better Health blog.

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