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There are lasting benefits to family meals. Slow down. Connect and stay connected!
These days, with soccer practice, music lessons, after school activies, dual work schedules, it's difficult to find time for the regular family meal.
But study after study demonstrates the lasting benefits of eating together:
- It provides stability. Most kids benefit with routine and schedule.
- It helps you connect and stay connected.
- It helps share good eating habits, and manners
- It helps you monitor what your children eat, and encourage a balanced and healthy diet
- Family meals provide an opportunity to pass down stories
- It allows you to find out what's going on with their lives, and they with yours
- It relieves stress, if you plan ahead
Children who eat regular meals with their parents tend to do better in school. Family meals appear to give children an edge in the classroom. In a 1994 Louis Harris and Associates survey of 2000 high school seniors, students took a test to measure their academic ability and answered a list of personal questions. Students who regularly ate dinner with their families 4 or more times a week scored better than those who ate family dinners 3 or fewer times a week. These results crossed racial lines and were more highly correlated with better scores than whether the child was in a one- or two-parent family.
In another study, researchers at the University of Illinois found that children ages 7 to 11 who did well on school achievement tests spent a large amount of time eating meals and snacks with their families. Their achievement was not affected by their mother's employment status, full-time, part-time or not employed.
Some starting ideas for easy family meals
- Taco night
- Roast chicken
- Italian night
- Chinese night: stir fry
- Slow cooker meals
- Make-your-own pizza
- Grilled food cookout
- Easy cleanup meals
Be sure to check out BigOven's drag and drop Menu Planner, so you can plan meals ahead of time. You can generate a grocery list with a couple clicks of the mouse. When you've planned a few weeks that work well for your family, you can also just duplicate them to another week on your calendar!