National Family Meals Month

National Family Meals Month

Publish Date September 15, 2022 5 Minute Read
Author Stephanie Skinner-Lucas, MS, RDN, LDN

September is National Family Meals Month

September is full of excitement. It starts with Labor Day and football and ends with the coming of crisp fall weather. This conjures up memories of the family gathering around the table to enjoy stimulating conversation and vibrant meals together. It’s the perfect time for celebrating National Family Meals Month. Did you know that sharing one meal a week as a family can improve self-esteem, promote positive social behaviors and create a stronger family connection? These benefits and more are worth exploring as you find ways to eat together. Not sure how to start? We’ve got you covered with fresh thoughts for making family mealtimes happen more often.

Make Your Family Meals a Priority

The 21st-century family includes an array of relationships. The family circle may include parents, siblings, grandparents, friends, roommates, cousins, aunts, uncles, and in-laws, to name a few. This makes meal unity unique for each household, taking everyone’s schedule under consideration. The great news is that it’s possible to identify any obstacles and be determined to resolve them. Begin by targeting one day a week, then choose which meal works best for that day. If a weekday is too hectic, choose a weekend brunch or dinner for some quality family time. Choose whatever works best to focus on the well-being of the family unit.

Planning Ahead for Family Mealtime

Start with setting an agreeable day for a family meal and have everyone mark it on the calendar so they know when to be home. Shop and prepare ahead of time, keeping in mind that your meal doesn’t have to be too elaborate. Get the family involved by asking them to place a preferred dish they would like cooked on the calendar or a dry-erase board. This will give you ideas and keep family members committed and interested. Some great options are 30-minute-or-less recipes, festive and favorite family go-to foods, or slow cooker meals. Time spent with family doesn’t have to mean endless hours in the kitchen.

Make Family the Focus of the Meal

Minimizing distractions means a more memorable meal for everyone. A good strategy is to turn off the television, and make sure no electronics are allowed at the table. If you don’t have a table that fits everyone, try to sit in the same area where everyone can see each other and eat comfortably. Focus on each other. Listen to each other. Catch up on the events in each other’s lives - such as highlights, challenges and how everyone is feeling. Take turns telling a joke, asking thought-provoking questions or having a question of the week to keep family members engaged. Social interaction and conversation make everyone at the table better communicators.

Get the Entire Family Involved

Use an all-hands-on-deck approach for National Family Meals Month to keep family members engaged. Give each family member tasks such as helping with food preparation and cooking, setting the table, pouring the drinks, choosing celebratory table decorations, and cleaning up after the meal. Family participation strengthens relationships and creates skills like teamwork, responsibility and confidence that benefit both internal and external interactions.

Above All, Make National Family Meals Month Fun

Try a specific food or cultural theme to make it exciting. Inspire everyone to choose a theme for each week, then ask questions related to the theme during the meal (and you can even have everyone dress for the theme). How about an indoor picnic? Toss a blanket on the living room floor or set the table accordingly. What about having a tasty taco night, building a colorful salad and soup bar, or creating a delicious bowl? The possibilities are truly endless. Here are some fabulous recipes to bring the fun to your family meal night

National Family Meals Month Recipes