4 Ways to Make Family Dinner Time a Sacred Routine

illustration of family eating together

Notable October holidays like Columbus Day and Halloween are now behind us, and so is another lesser-known October celebration: Eat Better, Eat Together Month. With the hectic winter holiday season nearly upon us, it’s a wonderful time of year to continue focusing on eating together more often as a family, long past October and beyond even the big Thanksgiving feast before us.

With families darting off in so many different directions all week long, many things get pushed aside to “get it all done” and sadly, one of the first places we tend to sacrifice is mealtime. Eating cereal bars on the run or hurriedly chugging down a protein shake in the car on the way to our kids’ soccer game is the norm for so many. Not only do we shortchange our bodies and deprive them of the chance to be properly nourished, but we also miss out on quality time to connect with our loved ones.

In light of this savory celebration in and outside of October, here are four ways you can help your family to “Eat Better and Eat Together” more often now and in the months to come.

    1. Keep it Simple. Family meals don’t have to be a 5-star dining experience. Pasta and bread, grilled cheese and salad, macaroni and cheese casserole with applesauce—keep it simple and focus on the fact that you’re eating together and sharing stories about your day.
    2. Dinner Picnic. It’s unrealistic to think that today’s busy families can break bread at home five nights a week, so why not pack up dinner to go and enjoy a family picnic? Pack dinner just as you would a picnic lunch for the park or beach, and sit down after practice or the game and enjoy a meal together. Even better, make this a tradition all year long throughout your child’s sport seasons.
    3. End with Something Sweet: With all the rushing around we do when we finally sit down together as a family, our meal can be hurried and feel like a real effort instead of an enjoyable experience. Dessert is usually the favorite part of any meal, so surprise your kids with a “happy ending” during family mealtime that will satisfy their sweet tooth as well as keep them at the table a bit longer. After all, dessert is the perfect way to reminisce about everyone’s day!
    4. Think Outside the Standard Mealtime Box. If you find it’s difficult to congregate together at the end of the day to share a meal together, see if you can make it happen during other mealtimes instead. Breakfast is a great time to hunker down at the table for a bowl of hearty oatmeal and strips of sizzling turkey bacon, or get in the habit of sharing a noontime meal on the weekend. Ask for your family’s input so you can make it work for everyone. While you’re at it, ask for meal recommendations that they’d like to see served. As kids get older, their taste buds change and they’re apt to be much more willing to try new menu items that they wouldn’t have tried even a year ago.

Image of family eating dinner together © Shutterstock.