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Child and family health
Family meals

Public Health encourages all families to come together at the dinner table for better nutrition and quality time. Take a minute to find out why it is important and how to make eating together fun for the whole family.

Benefits of eating together

Research shows families who eat together eat healthier meals. Eating together also:

  • Makes good use of food supplies by cooking larger quantities.
  • Saves time by planning menus and preparing only one meal.
  • Improves family communication.
  • Increases a sense of security and stability in children.
  • Helps children do better in school and behave better.
  • Gives a sense of family traditions and values.
  • Provides an opportunity for children to learn and have fun by helping prepare meals.

Helpful hints on planning and preparing family mealtime

  • Talk with family members about how to set up your family mealtime: What you want to eat? What time is best? What to talk about? What not to talk about? What behavior is OK, what is not?
  • Plan family dinner menus in advance (a week, a pay period, a month, etc), to save time and avoid costly last-minute dinners out or pizza orders.
  • Start with just one meal a week and add more as you can. Take time to make that meal extra special!
  • Keep foods on hand for 2 or 3 quick, favorite recipes. Make large amounts of these items and freeze for later.
  • Involve all members of the family in planning and preparing the menu. Children enjoy helping in the kitchen and are often more willing to eat foods that they help prepare.
  • Remember, family meals do not have to be hard. Simple foods will do!
  • Involve the entire family in the clean-up. Make a chore chart and take turns. Listen to music so clean-up goes faster.

Mealtime activities

  • Restaurant night - Pretend you are at a restaurant and give every member of your family a role to play (example: one person takes orders, one person serves the food, etc.) Turn the lights off and eat by candlelight or put flowers on the table.
  • Alphabet dinners - For example, on "A" night feature asparagus, apples or avocado. Family members can learn about new foods.
  • Geography night - Pick a country to learn about and prepare foods that come from that country. Have each person learn one fact about the country to share at dinnertime.
  • Special spotlight - Choose a family member to be in the spotlight. Have a special plate that the VIP (very important person) uses when they are in the spotlight. Let them set the menu.
  • Game night - Make individual pizzas using English muffins and then play a game. Take turns choosing the game.
  • Family breakfast - Dinner isn't the only time to share meals. Breakfast is also a great time to sit down together and start the day out right!
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(360) 397-8000 ext. 7205

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(360) 397-8000 ext. 7214