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Make time for family meals
Schedule your meals
A little preparation

Recipe for a healthy meal
Recipe for a healthy meal

Ensure clean plates with these tempting tips:

  • Say “salsa!” It tastes great over vegetables, fish or chicken.
  • Home in on herbs. Add chives to mashed potatoes; rosemary to meats.
  • Travel the world. Serve beef over bok choy or bulgur alongside a Middle Eastern-inspired entree.
  • Sneak in the healthy stuff. Add wheat bran to meatloaf.
  • Cut the fat. Mac and cheese can be just as tasty with skim milk and reduced-fat cheese.

In today’s busy world, family meals can seem like a thing of the past. But the family that eats together stays healthy together. In one study, children who regularly ate with their families consumed more fruits and vegetables and drank fewer soft drinks than their peers who didn’t eat with their families. They were also less likely to have eating disorders.

So how do you get everyone to the table for a healthy meal? It just takes a little planning.

Schedule your meals

Are family schedules at odds? Sit down and figure out if schedules can be fine-tuned to accommodate a family meal. Aim for at least a couple of family dinners a week or even weekend breakfasts. Also, plan meals that can be made in advance or that require less cooking time. Serve pasta and sauce, rice and beans or casseroles—one-dish meals that free you up from having to prepare side dishes.

A little preparation

When planning your meals, ask family members for input—a child will be more enthusiastic about the meal if it’s his or her favorite.

Do you have little ones getting under your feet in the kitchen? Put them to work. Preschoolers or elementary-school-age children can be beverage pourers, table-setters or napkin-folders, giving you more time to cook.

And don’t complain about cooking. Staying upbeat and positive about making the meal will keep your kids happy about partaking in this family ritual.