Family Dinner – The Benefits and Advantages of Meal Planning
The family dinner is one of the most important things you can do for you and your family’s health and well-being.
Do you know all the wonderful benefits of family meal planning? If not, you have come to the right place! These days, with everyone being so busy, its all too common to just grab fast food on the way home from work every night and not even give it a second thought. Not only is this not the healthiest option, but it’s also a huge money eater.
Read on as we highlight the many benefits of planning meals. Sitting down to planned family meals will not only save you money, time and effort, but it will improve your health as well.
When it comes to raising a family, one of the hardest jobs is trying to come up with solutions for dinner every night, let alone trying to find the time to cook! Yet the single most important thing you can do for you and your family’s health is to cook and eat at home!
Home Cooked Meals Contain –
- Less Salt
- Less Sugar
- Fewer Calories
- More Nutrients
- Less Preservatives
- Less Chemicals
- No Artificial Dyes
- Less Packaging
Cooking at home gives you control over the quality of your family’s food. By planning out meals, you can balance out nutrient-dense foods throughout the week giving your family the healthiest food choices for growing minds and bodies.
Meal planning can be enjoyable and you will find that it becomes easier and easier with a little practice. Planning ahead for the upcoming week is going to make you feel accomplished and organized.
Do you have to cook every evening meal at home to reap benefits? No – there definitely should be no pressure on busy parents to prepare a home cooked meal every night. It’s just not possible. But what is possible is to do your best as many nights as you can manage.
There are so many benefits and advantages to cooking and serving our families home-cooked meals that you will see it is well worth your time and effort.
In addition to better health for your family, a few of the biggest advantages to planning meals is it will save you money and LESS STRESS! And who doesn’t want more money and less stress?
Read on to see our top 10 benefits to planning family meals.
Top Ten Benefits of Having Family Meals Together and Planning Family Meals
- Kids of all ages need and love family rituals. Kids also thrive on daily routines. In this hectic world that we live in, sitting down to a family meal at 6:00 every night is stable and familiar.
- Eating family meals together provides children with a well-needed sense of security and belonging.
- Much, much better nutrition! Any meal cooked at home is pretty much guaranteed to be healthier than eating fast food or take-out.
- According to experts, a family that eats together regularly is more likely to consume more fruits and vegetables and less fried foods and soft drinks.
- Children and teens are less likely to develop addictive habits such as drugs, alcohol or smoking.
- Children who feel important to their family are more likely to have a greater sense of self-confidence and are less likely to give into peer pressure.
- Saves money on groceries. Save tons of money and time when you shop with a grocery list. Sticking to a plan can help you save money and time each month by reducing random buying and countless trips to the grocery store. Want a better dinner hour? Have a better plan!
- Parents can control what ingredients go into home-cooked foods. Salt is becoming a nightmare as high sodium levels are now being linked to high blood pressure in children from eating so much fast food.
- Children who eat meals together with their family have been found to do better academically.
- This is a great time to teach children communication skills. Lots of chatter at the dinner table and adult conversation gives kids an edge with verbal communication skills.
Teach proper nutrition – raising healthier children to become healthy adults by teaching children the importance of proper nutrition. By offering a variety of foods each week children learn to accept all food groups more readily. Get children involved in picking out healthy recipes.
Read labels with your children explaining sodium levels, different ingredients, and also the importance eating fresh foods with no additives. Children tend to mimic their parent’s eating habits and will take these habits with them into adulthood as well.
Weight Control. Kids are less likely to have weight problems when parents help develop proper eating habits.
Proper Portion Control. It is much easier to get portion sizes under control by cooking and eating at home. The world has gone crazy with super-sizing our food and we really don’t need to eat that much in one sitting. This is a great opportunity to show kids well-balanced and well-portioned food.
Proper Table Manners – Proper table manners are taught at the kitchen or dining room table. Waiting until everyone is served, no chewing with your mouth open, etc… are important manners to learn at a young age.
* Children cherish time together with their parents and family dinner hour provides the perfect opportunity to spend time listening to each child. Staying connected with family is one of the reasons why children excel.
Make Family Meals Enjoyable
- Turn of all electronic devices. (Yes, this includes the TV.)
- Never argue or bring up unpleasant conversations. We all need to relax and this is the perfect opportunity. Strive on making dinner hour fun. This is a time to laugh with your family.
- Always eat at the dinner table and not in front of a TV.
- Celebrate achievements. Make a cake or cupcakes and celebrate even the smallest accomplishments in your children’s life.
Unfortunately, there is no set formula for meal planning; no mysterious trick that you have yet to discover. It is more a self-discipline, routine task that impacts your household budget, frees time, and encourages healthy eating habits.
How to Make Daily Dinner Hour Easier
- Once a week, make a menu for all the dinners you will serve for the coming week.
- Try to include all the major entree groups such as beef, pork, chicken, and pasta.
- Review each of the recipes and list all the items you need to purchase at the store. Be sure to include the vegetables and side dishes that compliment your meals.
- Your goal is to shop only once a week, so organization is the key to your success.
- Have kids help with meal preparations. There are so many easy things that kids can do to make cooking the actual dinner run smoother for the chef! But remember to make it fun. No one likes a grouchy chef.
- Shopping List. Have a weekly shopping list and stick to it. This is where you save money. Impulse buys are a thing of the past. With your dinners carefully planned, you will walk right by the expensive frozen dinners and packaged foods. Take your coupons and buy the store brand when you can to save even more.
Your shopping time will be shorter because now you are organized. You know what you want and where to find it. No more wandering around thinking, “What can we have for dinner tonight?” for you! You have planned an entire week’s worth of meals. You are in and you are out – fast.
Our Favorite Top 5 Benefits of Planning Family Dinners!
When you plan a meal, you usually consume more nutrient-dense food that offers many health benefits rather than pre-processed fast food. By making a list of the dishes you will be making it eliminates the need to resort to eating out or ordering takeout. Home cooked meals are almost always healthier than pre-made options and when raising a family this is especially important.
By planning your meals it also allows you to know in advance what things you need to buy. So when you go to the grocery store you’re all set. No need to think and waste time. Just grab the ingredients and go.
Saves Money and Time
Meal planning helps your money and your time. You don’t not realize that you waste plenty of time standing in front of the refrigerator deciding what to cook. You waste money by making trips to the grocery store 4-5 times a week to get last minute ingredients. Hence, if you plan your meals in advance it will save you precious time and money. When you go to the grocery store you will have a list of ingredients that you need during the week. As you will be buying the ingredients you will use, you avoid wasting groceries.
Variety of Foods
Another benefit of meal planning is that you can enjoy much more variety in your dishes. It is better to eat different dishes rather eating the same dish 5 times a week. This keeps your meals fresh and exciting. For instance, you can cook fish on Monday, vegetarian dish on Tuesday and beef on Wednesday. In case your children are very picky you can cook their favorite dishes as well in order to provide a healthy meal that they’ll love!
Have you ever had to worry about what to have for dinner? We all have gone through the stress especially when living such busy lives. Now you have a way to reduce some of that stress by planning your meals early. You won’t have to rush to the grocery store as you will have the ingredients at home. You will reduce the time you spend on worrying and them preparing the meal. You also won’t have to rack your brain for dinner ideas while driving home from work.
Family Time and Conversation
One of the best benefits of meal planning is getting quality time and having great conversations with the family. Eating dinner together as a family offers an opportunity to converse with your family. You can discuss your day, or other important things going on in your lives. Taking as a family will bring your family closer together. It really is a great way to spend some quality time with your kids and your spouse.
As you can see there are tons of great benefits of planning meals for your family. The more you get in the routine of doing this the easier it becomes. You’re family will not only be healthier and happier but your pocket book will thank you as well!