From The Nutritionist

Kate Williams, RD
Nutrition Contributor:
Kate Williams, RD

Simple Solutions to Help Families Eat Together


Sitting down for a meal with my family is one of the best parts of my day. I love listening to my 5-year old twins discuss upgrades to their fort (made out of a washing machine box of course) or my son reliving the best wave he caught on a recent trip to the beach. With school starting up again, this nightly ritual tends to be rushed. We have to try harder to make it happen and we are not alone. The way families eat together and live together has changed over time, presenting new challenges to sitting at the table together. This month, we celebrate National Family Meals Month with tips on how families can sit down for one more meal together each week.


I reached out to our internal family meal experts, the Consumer Test Kitchens, for insights on how family meals changed and what we can do to make them happen more often. Whether you are personally trying to eat more meals with your family, or you are trying to encourage others, these insights and solutions help everyone eat more meals at home.

Families Shop Differently Than Before
The days of stocking up once per week at the local grocery store are over for many families. Now, families shop in a variety of places. They buy in bulk at club stores, shop online, browse dollar stores, and more. The traditional supermarket is still a mainstay, but consumers today diversify where they stock up.

Helpful Hints:

  • Keep your meal plans and weekly recipes organized with digital tools like Pinterest, save preferences and recipe favorites on Campbell’s Kitchen, and other online recipe databases. This way you know what you need no matter where and when you shop.
  • Stay Organized—nothing is worse than finishing up your shopping and realizing you forgot several items. Whether you use old fashioned pen and paper or an app, make a list to keep you organized.

Tight on Time
We all seek shortcuts when juggling our schedules and meals are no exception. 63% of Americans decide what to eat less than an hour before eating.1 When talking to the Campbell Test Kitchen team, I learned most families with kids spend less than 45 minutes preparing and eating their meals.

Helpful Hints:
  • A stocked pantry, fridge and freezer set you up for success. Keeping key ingredients like whole grains, cooking sauces, marinara, beans, and more help you make meals happen without hitting the drive through.
  • Take advantage of grocery delivery and shopping services. These save time and can help you stay organized with historical shopping lists and orders.
  • Use your weekends to plan and prepare meals ahead of time. Check out our tips on how to plan like a pro.

Addicted to Tech
Technology can be addicting and distracting. In a Food Marketing Institute survey, 21% of families with kids reported too many distractions as an obstacle to eating family dinners together.2 However, the biggest offenders are not who you might expect. According to a Nielsen Survey, Generation X (born 1965-1980) and Baby Boomers (born 1950-1965) are most likely to be on technology during meal times.3

Helpful Hints:
  • Silence all electronics and leave them in a hallway or a basket by the front door before gathering at the table. Even the television in the next room can be a distraction, so turn that off too.
  • Make conversation a priority. Feeling stuck? Purchase a Table Topics conversation card kit or look at the prompts provided by The Family Dinner Project.

The best tip of all?
Start small, try to eat ONE more meal together each week—whether it is breakfast, lunch, or dinner, take the time to eat together. The meal may only be 15 minutes but the memories last forever.

Make Dinner, Make Memories!
Kate


Kate's Bio

Kate received her bachelor's degree in dietetics from the University of Delaware and completed her dietetic internship at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center. She has over ten years of experience in a variety of nutrition-related practice areas including clinical nutrition, weight management counseling, health and wellness and nutrition education. Kate has worked as a nutrition consultant to the Campbell Soup Company since 2005.


References
  1. Manufacturers Toolkit: Trends in Family Meals, Food Marketing Institute, Accessed July 2017.
  2. U.S. Grocery Shopper TRENDS 2017, Food Marketing Institute & Hartman Group, Accessed July 2017.
  3. DISTRACTED BY TECHNOLOGY AT MEALTIMES—IT'S NOT WHO YOU MAY THINK, The Nielsen Group, Accessed July 2017.

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En Papillote Technique

1. Prepare the parchment paper
Get a large piece of parchment paper, approximately 2.5 times as large as a single portion of food. Cut the paper into a heart shape, lightly brushing one side with oil. This creates a slight barrier to water, preventing the paper from becoming soaked too quickly. Another option, though not as attractive, is to use tin foil instead of parchment paper.

2. Select the ingredients
This is a very quick-cooking approach, so it works best with tender proteins such as fish and shellfish. The accompanying ingredients, like julienned vegetables (matchstick size), must be small enough to cook at the same rate as the fish. In some cases the vegetables can be blanched, or quickly cooked in boiling water, to ensure proper doneness. Fresh herbs will go a long way in providing flavor.

3. Assemble the packet
Lay the oiled, heart-shaped paper on a baking tray, oiled side up. Season your vegetables with salt, pepper, extra virgin olive oil, and half of the herbs. Toss them around for an even coat. Place enough for one portion on half of the paper. Bunch them up to create a bed for your fish, leaving about two inches between the food and the edge of the paper. Place the seasoned fish on the vegetables and sprinkle the remaining herbs. Add a splash of the liquid on top of the fish, just enough to add moisture.

4. Seal the packet
To seal, fold the heart over to enclose the fish and vegetables (so it resembles a teardrop). Starting at the top of the heart, fold about 1/4" of the edge toward the center. Fold over again to create a seal. Continue along the length of the parchment, folding each section twice. When you get to the point of the heart, twist and fold to finish the seal.

5. Bake your dinner
Bake the packet in a 425°F oven for 10-14 minutes, depending on the size of the fish. The packet will puff and brown while in the oven and as the steam builds. When cooked, remove from the oven and carefully place the packet on a plate. With a knife or scissors cut an "X" on the top and fold back the edges for a dramatic presentation and a delicious, healthy meal.

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Spicy Flounder and Clams with Summer Vegetables

Prep Time: Less than 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 10-14 minutes
Yield: 2 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup carrots, finely cut julienne
  • 1/3 cup sugar snap peas, cross cut thinly
  • 1/3 cup zucchini, yellow, finely cut julienne
  • 6 each cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1 Tbsp. shallot, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp. parsley, fresh, minced
  • Dash salt
  • Dash black pepper
  • 6 oz. fillet, flounder (2 fillets, 3oz. each)
  • 2 Tbsp. Low Sodium Spicy Hot V8® 100% Vegetable juice
  • 3/4 lb. clams, in the shell

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
  2. Combine the carrots, sugar snap peas, zucchini, cherry tomatoes, shallot, garlic, extra virgin olive oil, half of the parsley, salt and pepper in a bowl. Toss well to combine.
  3. Lightly oil two large heart shaped pieces of parchment paper.
  4. With the parchment paper on a sheet tray, place half of the vegetable mixture in the center of one half of each heart leaving about a 2" border.
  5. Lightly season each fillet with salt and pepper. Fold or roll the fillet to create a uniform thickness and place on top of the vegetables.
  6. Top the fish with the remaining herbs and the Low Sodium Spicy Hot V8® 100% Vegetable juice.
  7. Place half of the clams around each portion of vegetables and fish.
  8. Fold the heart over to enclose the fish and vegetables so that it resembles a teardrop.
  9. Starting at the top of the heart, fold about 1/4" of the edge towards the center. Fold over again to create a seal.
  10. Continue with this method along the length of the parchment packet folding each section twice to make an attractive edge.
  11. When you get to the point of the heart twist and fold to finish the seal.
  12. Bake the packets for 10-14 minutes (depending on the thickness of the fish).
  13. Remove from the oven and serve by cutting an "X" in the top and folding back the edges.

Nutrition Information (per serving):

Calories 180, Total Fat 9g, Saturated Fat 1g, Monounsaturated Fat 5g, Polyunsaturated Fat 1g, Cholesterol 50mg, Sodium 450mg, Carbohydrate 10g, Fiber 2g, Sugar 4g, Protein 16g.