We know family meals are important. They are a strong predictor of kids’ nutrition, happiness, self esteem, and even success. Research suggests that the modeling that happens at family meals helps increase kids’ food acceptance. Family meals do not need to be complicated and it’s okay to rely on convenience foods to get dinner on the table. The benefits of family meals are not necessarily about what one is eating, they are about the family time together and the communication that happens over food. I believe if we are too black and white about what a family meal is, we can fall into a routine of not eating as a family very often, because the bar is set too high. When working with families, I’ll hear this dichotomous thinking of either cooking with recipes or having take out in front of the TV. There is a lot of grey area between these two scenarios in which family meals can happen.
Meal Make Up
Like many of us, I’m often coming in from work or a kid’s activity right before dinnertime and, therefore, I rely on convenience or quick prep foods to get dinner on the table. I use a basic template for our meals of providing at least a protein, starch and fruit or vegetable. Providing this structure and offering different foods without pressure helps kids learn to eat different foods overtime. However, again, it doesn’t need to be complicated or gourmet. Sometimes, I need the fruit or vegetable to be quick and easy.
Go-To Fruit and Vegetable Sides
Here are 6 of my convenient go-to fruit and vegetable side dishes that I rely on to round out family meals: …