A Case for Family Dinner & Menu Planning

The most important part of menu planning is DECIDING it’s worth it to do (or if you’re like a lot of people, why you should try it again).  So first, let me make a case for WHY family dinners are so important…

Did you know that what happens around the dinner table is some of the most important time you’ll spend together as a family?  According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, family mealtimes are important because:

  1. When you regularly eat with your children, your meals are more likely to be healthy and balanced.
  2. Compared to teens that have frequent family dinners, those who rarely have family dinners are three and a half times more likely to abuse prescription drugs or an illegal drug other than marijuana.
  3. Girls who have five or more meals a week with their families are one-third less likely to develop unhealthy eating habits, which can range from skipping meals to abuse of diet pills to full-fledged anorexia.
  4. Parental influence and involvement is an important tool in preventing substance abuse.  Regularly sitting down for a meal with your children is one way to connect with them and be involved with what is happening in their lives.

(“Get Involved: the Importance of Family Mealtime,”: http://family.samhsa.gov/get/mealtime.aspx)

It’s pretty amazing to see real statistics on the good you’re doing for your family when you eat together as family, isn’t it?  Dinner really is a beautiful thing to me.  It has all of the makings for great memories-the smells, sights, sounds, tastes-it invokes every sense you have. Doesn’t everyone have A LOT of memories to tell of their family around the dinner table (maybe some that can only be laughed about now?).  Every night bonding was going on…important bonding!  From the making of dinner to sitting down and eating it to cleaning it up.  A lot of important lessons are being taught.  How to plan and serve for others (making dinner), how to share (passing food around the table), how to take turns talking (the family talking about their day), how to work together for a common good (cleaning up dinner).  I’m sure you already have family dinner-so I’m probably preaching to the choir here  but I just want to make one thing clear-FIGHTING FOR FAMILY DINNER IS WORTH THE FIGHT!

Now, how does menu planning make that fight easier? Well, the good news is that it does even more than that!  It will also save you A LOT of money and calories!

  1. Menu planning gives you a fighting chance for making dinner that day because you’ve already decided WHAT you’ll be making, and let’s be honest at the end of the day trying to decide what to make for dinner can end up taking all the time and effort we have left!
  2. Menu planning also ensures that you will be eating a variety of different foods offering your family a more varied and balanced diet.
  3. If you know what you are going to make that day, you can start preparing earlier in the day-much, much earlier! Allowing  you to be less stressed and actually enjoy cooking…and maybe have a kid or two in their with you.
  4. Menu planning also allows you to take into account your busiest days and to plan for them, either with a slow-cooker meal or a 30 minute meal.
  5. You will eat out less which will help your waistline and your wallet.  Think of how many times you eat out in a week and what the reason is behind it.  For me, we eat out more when I don’t have some sort of menu plan in place because at the end of the day (yes, I’m just like you) I don’t feel like cooking!
  6. Menu planning lets you take advantage of shopping for those items on sale that week. (Again, saving you more money!)
  7. You’ll also take fewer trips to the store because you’ve planned ahead and made sure you have all of the ingredients you’ll need for your menu.
  8. …and finally, you’ll be HAPPY!  Dinner doesn’t have to be a chore that you dread every day.  It can be a wonderful time where you bond with your family.

Isn’t dinner and menu planning wonderful?!  Now, I realize you may still have some angst about menu planning, you may still feel like it just isn’t for you or right for your situation-after all you may have  tried and tried and yet it never really works.  Well, from one “menu planning just isn’t for me” person to another-you’ve got to believe me that it CAN and DOES work…if you know how to combat all the reasons why it didn’t work before. (Yes, you read that correctly, I used to HATE making dinner and have thrown out so many menu plans I can’t even count them all!)  So, make sure you come back on Wednesday to learn the ins and outs of making a successful menu plan and then Monday for how to execute it all.  It’s going to be awesome!

…and while you’re at it, if you have a funny dinner time story you’d like to share-PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT!  We’d all love to hear it and get each other inspired for the Fight for Dinner!

© 2010, Crystal. All rights reserved.

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