Family Meals Fuel Better Nutrition and Healthy Eating Habits

Studies show when families enjoy their meals together, they tend to be more nutritious.

You want the best for your family but ensuring your child’s success seems a monumental task when everyone has a busy schedule. In fact, we are busier than ever before with work, school, evening activities and life in general taking our time. However, studies show that with good time management, there is a simple solution to helping your child by making time for family meals. Family meals provide a dedicated time to bond over a healthy meal. Mealtime can be in a restaurant, a car or wherever is convenient, not only the dining room table. As long as you’re together enjoying a meal, your child will eat better and thrive.

Simple one-pan recipes like our Meatballs in Creamy Tomato Sauce make gathering family around the table easy. Add a ready-to-eat bagged salad to round out the meal.

Share Values
Time spent sitting together increases family bonds and allows the opportunity to share values with one another. Children report that they feel closer to their parents and experience less emotional stress when eating together and communicating as a family.

Cheer on Educational Successes
Mealtimes also provide a space to offer encouragement in your child’s studies. Students who eat five or more times with their family each week are 40% more likely to earn high grades, excel in standardized tests, as well as develop a better vocabulary and overall reading comprehension. With milk’s protein, calcium and vitamin D, these nutritional foods also provide your child’s mind fuel for school.

Encourage Important Eating Habits
Family meals promote eating habits that help your child’s growth, so focus on what is on your plate. To encourage nutritious eating, prepare examples of healthy meals for your family using the USDA MyPlate as a guide. Because including milk provides 3 nutrients that many meals otherwise lack— calcium, potassium and vitamin D—choose dairy-focused recipes like our Meatballs in Creamy Tomato Sauce with Burrata or our Cheese Spinach Strata.

Follow these tips to help bring your family together for mealtimes:

  • Plan out your meals. Prepare a weekly menu so you can enjoy more time with the family and less time evaluating your possible ingredients.
  • Let everyone help. When families prepare meals together, kids demonstrate more confidence in choosing healthy foods.
  • Pair your meals with a glass of milk. Milk provides key nutrients, like high quality protein and calcium, to everyone in your family.
  • Dedicate a day of the week to eating together. Begin with one meal a week that takes precedence over other plans.
  • Remember family meals don’t have to be at dinner. Gather for breakfast, lunch, dessert or even a snack.

The Dairy Alliance is dedicating October to the importance of family meals, a simple way to ease a parent’s worries about their children. Starting October 1, make time for family meals, offer nutritional yet easy recipes for mealtimes and share the importance of having milk with each meal. Visit for additional facts and information on including dairy in your family meals.

Source: The Dairy Alliance

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