September is National Family Meals Month
September is National Family Meals Month

With packed schedules, family dinners can be a challenge. Studies show that eating together has positive benefits for the entire family, especially children, including:

• Increased happiness and decreased likelihood of depression and stress
• Better communication skills and relationships with others
• Improved overall nutrition and health
• Increased self-confidence and academic achievements
• Reduced risk of engaging in drug use and harmful activities

How to make more family meals happen:

1. Review your family’s schedule for the week and determine when it’s feasible to eat meals together. It’s OK if some weeks only include one or two family meals; the goal is to eat together as often as time permits.

2. Use the recipes throughout Ready to make meal planning easier, or build meals around themes such as meatless Monday, taco Tuesday or international food night Friday.

3. Before creating your shopping list, assess your fridge, freezer and pantry to identify what you already have and what you’ll need to purchase.

4. Carve out time to meal prep before the week starts, so getting dinner on the table is a breeze. To enjoy more family time and get the kids excited about the meal, involve them in the process, whether it’s grocery shopping, chopping ingredients or cooking.

5. Double or triple batches to yield leftovers that the family can eat later in the week. Try reinventing leftovers too! Flip to page 10 to learn how to transform slow-cooked pulled pork into Hawaiian Pulled Pork Sliders the next day.