Advice for Families on the Go
Q: Today's families often find themselves in four different locations at dinnertime. What healthy eating suggestions do you have for the family that simply can't find time to eat together?
J&L: We believe that eating together as a family should be a huge priority. That said, however, we certainly understand that on some days it's simply not possible. But when schedules get hectic and family members are running in a million different directions, it doesn't mean you have to compromise good nutrition with fast food and frozen dinners. Here's how: If, for example, Mom (or Dad) prepares a big pot of our Halftime Taco Chili or our Beef & Sweet Potato Stew, the meal can still be enjoyed whenever a family member happens to roll in! In addition, if one of the kids is running out the door to soccer or baseball practice, parents can pack their own "take-out" meal such as our Colorful Sweet Potato Burritos, Ham & Cheese Pinwheels, or even a thermos filled with our Mega Minestrone.
Q: Do you think eating dinner together is more important than sports, piano lessons, dance lessons, homework, or the other activities that kids participate in so they can compete in today's world?
J&L: It's important for families to find a balance that works for them. If sports, piano lessons, karate, homework, and other activities end up eating into family time at the table, then perhaps it would be appropriate to cut back a bit. We've both had to make those quality-of-life choices before. Liz's 8-year-old, for example, was involved in a travel hockey program that required two evening practices a week as well as two games a week. After a few hectic weeks of missing family dinners and running ragged, Liz switched him over to a lower-key in-town program. It ended up being the best decision for the entire family.
Q: What about other family members -- what can moms do get them involved in cooking healthier meals?
J&L: The weight of preparing dinner and cleaning up after meals should not have to fall on Mom's shoulders entirely. It's okay to assign tasks to each family member. Janice's 4-year-old helps by setting the napkins on the dinner table while her 11-year-old pours the beverages and sets and clears the table. Janice's husband makes the salad and washes the dishes. When kids help with food preparation, they may be more willing to try something new, so we encourage parents to welcome their children into the kitchen.