Kristen Kauffman, nutrition intern
September brings the end of summer, crisp, fall air, and oh, yeah…school starts up again! With classes, extra-curricular activities, and work, schedules can get pretty hectic. It is easy to let family mealtime fall off the list of priorities and opt for fast food or eating in shifts. However, making time to eat together AND eat nutritiously is beneficial for your family and your wallet.
September is National Family Meals MonthTM, a month dedicated to encouraging families to eat just one more meal together each week. Meals that are shared together have been associated with healthy eating, weight control, and happier and healthier children.1 Frequent family meals and strong relationships within the family unit are also associated with lower rates of depression, anxiety, and substance abuse. 2-4
Growing up in a family of five kids, it was a challenge to get everyone together for dinner. My mom was the queen of deciding what we were going to eat about an hour before dinner time. Sounds crazy, right?! Meal planning can be a challenge in itself; add in managing 7 different schedules and it was chaos! But that is the norm in many households.
Eating together doesn’t have to be a challenge. Visit Campbell’s Nutritious Recipes to find savory recipes that require little prep time; this allows you to spend some extra time with your family.
Simple solutions to make family dinner a reality:
- Put it in the slow cooker. You can prepare your meals hours ahead of time and still be able to pick everyone up from their after school activities without worrying if you will have time to cook. Try Campbell’s Slow Cooker Fall Harvest Pork Stew for a nutritious, easy dinnertime fix.
- One Dish meals. Casseroles and bakes are easy to prepare and enjoy. Using fewer dishes also cuts down on your cleanup time, allowing you to spend more time with your family. Try a Santa Fe Chicken Sauté or Chicken Tortilla Casserole for easy prep and cleanup.
- It doesn’t have to be dinner. Dinner is the first meal that comes to most people’s minds to eat with their family, but for you, that might be your busiest time. Eating breakfast or lunch together counts too! Next Saturday, make something that everyone will love like Cinnamon Swirl French Toast with Strawberry Compote and enjoy spending a morning meal together.
- Do double duty. Make a chili or stew for dinner tonight and freeze the leftovers, providing you with a dinner for next week, too.
Santa Fe Chicken Sauté
I am so grateful that my mom encouraged our family to eat meals together. The conversations that we shared around the table left a great impression on me. I still make many of my mom’s classic recipes today.
Excited about eating more meals together as a family? You can pledge online by using the hashtags #familymealsmonth and #raiseyourmitt. Be part of Family Meals MonthTM and enjoy spending time together as a family.
Kristen is currently a senior at West Chester University studying Nutrition and Dietetics. This past summer Kristen completed a 12-week internship at the Campbell Soup Company as the Health Science and Regulatory Affairs intern. Through this experience, she saw the role of a dietitian in the food industry. Her future goals are to complete a dietetic internship, and ultimately work in the area of nutrition education and communication.
- Berge, J. (2015). The protective role of family meals for youth obesity: 10-year longitudinal associations. The Journal of Pediatrics, 166.
- Meier, A. and Musick, K. (2014) Variation in associations between family dinners and adolescent well-being. Journal of Marriage and Family, 76.
- Eisenberg, Marla E, ScD, MPH; Olsen, Rachel E, MS; Neumark-Sztainer, Dianne, PhD, MPH, RD; Story, Mary, PhD, RD; Bearinger, Linda H, PhD, MS. (2004) Correlations between Family Meals and Psychosocial Well-being Among Adolescents. JAMA Pediatrics: 158 (8) 792-796. (August 2015).
- Cook, Eliza and Dunifon, Rachel. Do Family Meals Really Make a Difference? Cornell University of Human Ecology. 2012. (August 2015).