On The Table

A collection of knowledge-based articles to inspire overall wellness.

Tips to Make Weeknight Family Dinner Simple

Study after study has shown that families who eat together on a regular basis have better and healthier relationships. We've assembled a few easy to do tips to make weeknight family dinner time a breeze.

Tips to Make Weeknight Family Dinner Simple

In this busy world, fast food restaurant options seem to be on the rise and nutritious choices on the decline. The thought of family dinner on weeknights can seem exhausting with demanding schedules and responsibilities. Family meals are important. They have the ability to stimulate engaging conversations along with nutritional benefits. Eating together at a dinner table will be easy with these family dinner ideas and hacks.

Get Ahead of the Week with Meal Preparation

Designate one day each week for meal prep. Formulate a grocery list after deciding what meals the family would enjoy. Try sticking with meals that don't require too much preparation time or a lot of attention. Prepping ideas include chopping veggies for a salad, cooking lean ground beef or turkey for a build-your-own taco bar, and cubing chicken for whole grain pasta. Too many prepped items stored in the refrigerator can create clutter and a game of Tetris. To prevent playing hide-and-seek, store the items from front to back depending on their use during the week. Creating the taco bar at the beginning of the week? Be sure to place the ground meat in the front.

Dust Off the Crockpot

Coming home to the smell of cooked dinner sounds impossible yet ideal, right? With some small meal preparation and a crockpot all that needs to be done after a long day is plating the food. The options are effortlessly endless: add ground meat and beans for chili; throw in a pot roast with carrots and potatoes; pour chicken stock, diced chicken, and mixed veggies for a chicken soup.

Get Everyone Involved in the Kitchen

"It takes an army" still applies in the kitchen. The more hands involved, the quicker meals will end up on the dinner table. Getting kids in the kitchen provides them with a fun learning environment. Exposing them to basic food preparation skills and nutrition early in life improves their ability to make healthier decisions further down the road. Initially starting them in the kitchen can ultimately prevent adult obesity along with its comorbidities like cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.

Enjoy a Family Meal at a Restaurant

Yes, eating out can be put on the agenda and should be. Feeling too tired after a long day to even think about dinner is understandable. However, do not think of this as a defeat. Turn this into an adventurous family outing. Let each family member take turns choosing a new restaurant to try. Make the experience a learning opportunity by ordering unfamiliar foods or items not typically seen at home. Restaurants have doubled or even tripled portion sizes. Asking for a to-go box and halving the meal can eliminate overeating and provide lunch for the next day.

Once meals together become consistent, other family dinner ideas will start to come naturally. Keep dinner light-hearted and fun by leaving stress at the front door, turning off all electronics, and basking in the company of your family.