When you have a family, every day is an adventure. Sometimes
just getting dinner on the table can seem like an insurmountable task. It’s
never going to be easy all of the time, but we have some tips for how you can foster
a fun and healthy dinner for your family from the agents here at Vargas and
Vargas Insurance Agency.
Choosing a Healthy Meal
Many families struggle to consistently put a healthy meal on
the table. It’s important to remember if you’re having trouble that ‘healthy’ meals
can still be both easy and delicious, even if you have picky eaters at your
table (whether they’re 2 or 92 years old!)
According to the United States Department of Agriculture,
families should be following the MyPlate
guidelines when planning meals. This means that dinners should consist
of five food groups in specific proportions – those food groups are fruits, vegetables,
grains, protein, and dairy.
Thankfully, there are plenty of resources for finding
healthy recipes that you can use for your family. Start with an online search
focused on meals with the MyPlate guidelines in mind. If you have children that
are old enough, have them help with the meal planning and even the cooking, if
possible. This will help to set them up for nutritional success later in life. Having
trouble finding the time to put together a meal? Meal
prep is a great option to plan out and store a week’s worth of meals
(or more) and cut down significantly on daily prep work.
Here in the Dorchester area, there are plenty of resources
for you if you need help creating a great meal. The library offers access to a
cooking section where you can find plenty of great meal ideas, there are food pantries for
those struggling to afford meals, and don’t forget about the wonderful produce
offered at farmer’s markets in the area throughout the year.
Encourage Communication and Learning
Family meals are about so much more than just the food. In
addition to serving something nutritious, you should make sure that you inspire
everyone at the table to bond and engage with the group. Some children can be
reluctant to share. To circumvent this issue, you will need to ask more
specific questions about their activities and the happenings in their lives.
Also make sure to talk about things that they are interested in – let them tell
you about their social life or their favorite video game!
Want to mix up your dinner routine a little bit? Designate certain
days as ‘learning dinners.’ Instead of focusing on conversation, learn
something as a group. Find an interesting and educational podcast that you can
all listen to or have someone choose and read an article from the news to
bolster discussions about world affairs with older kids. Younger kids will enjoy
playing games, so choose something age appropriate and start playing! If you
need ideas for appropriate games, check out the ideas from The
Family Dinner Project.
Another fun thing to do together while you eat is to plan
other family activities. Ask kids where they would like to go – anything from day
trips to vacations – and plan out a trip! Making plans together is a great way
to bond while also learning about each other.
No matter whether you choose to talk, play, or learn while
you’re at the table, remember that it is important that this time is about
being together as a family. For most, this means putting away phones and
tablets and turning off the tv during meals so that you can focus on each
Commit to a Routine
Times can get hectic, so you don’t necessarily have to do a
healthy family dinner seven nights a week. Plan out what days you can and try
to stick to your schedule as much as you can. Often, this routine will need to
be evaluated and reevaluated as school and work schedules change, or when kids
start or finish extracurricular activities – and that’s ok!
If it is hard for you to plan family dinners, try another
meal – family breakfasts and lunches work just as well. What’s important is
that you provide your loved ones with nutritious meals and that you spend time
together to bond and communicate. And the more the merrier! Have non-immediate
family members join you or invite your kids’ friends or your own friends to vary
the routine and bring in new dynamics to your discussions. Just make sure that
everyone follows the #1 rule – no electronics allowed at the table!
Want to do more to make sure that your family is healthy? Talk
to a Vargas and Vargas Insurance agent about your health insurance policy. Call
617-298-0655 to get a free analysis of your current policy or a quote for new
coverage. Having great insurance
allows you to focus on healing without a major financial burden, so don’t underestimate
the value of a great policy. Until then bon appetit and enjoy dinners with your