How to Have Better Family Meals at All Ages

How to Have Better Family Meals at All Ages
Posted on 03/20/2018
Family Meals

Between school, work, hockey games and band practice, how is a family ever supposed to sit down and enjoy a home-cooked dinner at six o’clock at night?  The former idea of a family meal does not always apply to our societies’ hectic and busy schedules.  However, research shows that eating family meals can have a large impact on a child’s social, emotional and physical health, as well as performance in school.  So how can we achieve this lofty goal?   The first step is putting aside the idea that a family meal needs to include all members of the family at the same time, eating a made-from scratch meal.  A family meal can be a number of different things, but the key component is that family members (all or a few) are sharing food together and engaging in conversation.  Below are a few different ideas on how to make this meal time matter and make it more realistic for your family. 

  • Set a goal to have regular family meals, at least three times per week.
    • Three times a week is ideal, but do whatever fits with your family’s schedule.Mealtime can be breakfast, lunch, dinner, or even a snack- it all counts as long as people are eating and communicating together.
  • Aim for consistent family meal timing.
    • The routine of family meals can generate feelings of closeness and comfort. Even when mealtimes feel hectic or disorganized, take comfort in the fact that the simple act of regular mealtimes may be providing your child with stability.
  • The quality of family meals is just as important as quantity.
    • Guard your mealtimes from outside distractions. Turn off the TV and cell phones and ask questions to your children about their day, school, friends, goals, etc.
    • Family meals may provide a unique context for parents to connect with and share important information with their children 

Whether your family meal is at 4pm before dance rehearsal or at 9 o’clock at night after the big game, make it a worthwhile experience and use it as an opportunity to connect with your children. 



For more information, feel free to contact your school nurse or Wellness Committee member.

"Supported by the Statewide Health Improvement Partnership, Minnesota Department of Health and Dakota County Public Health Department"