September is here, school is in full swing, and everyone is missing the family time summer has to offer. Spending time with family is important for many reasons, and one of the easiest ways to spend more time with family is having family meal nights.
Research shows that family meal nights can improve mental health, physical health, and increase fruit and vegetable intake. Having family meals at least three times per week can reduce the likelihood of children using drugs, smoking, and drinking alcohol. Children are also likely to have better test scores and are likely to do better in school when they share multiple meals with their family. Preparing meals at home can also help families save money by shopping sale items and using seasonal fruits and vegetables.
Aside from the mental benefits of having family meals, preparing the meal as a family is a great way to teach children valuable kitchen skills. Having children help prepare the meal can help children with motor skills, math skills, and children are more likely to eat food they prepared. When teens help prepare meals, fruit and vegetable intake is increased while fat intake decreased.
There are many different ways to increase the number of family meals had throughout the week. Start by planning meals as a family to get everyone excited about family meal nights. Make the most out of family meals by making them device free and being present with family. Be sure to include meals that allow everyone to help prepare like build-your-own tacos or try making homemade pizza.