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 other.
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 family!