“Family Day – A Day to Eat Dinner with Your Children” is a national movement launched in 2001 by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University to encourage more parent-to-child communication as a means of substance abuse prevention. It is celebrated the 4th Monday of each September, which is tomorrow.
More than a decade of research has consistently found that the more often kids eat dinner with their families, the less likely they are to smoke, drink, or use drugs. A powerful quote by Joseph A. Califano, Jr., sums it up best. “America’s drug problem is not going to be solved in courtrooms or legislative hearing rooms by judges and politicians. It will be solved in living rooms and dining rooms and across kitchen tables – by parents and families.”
There is no doubt that having kids involved in sports, music, 4-H or church activities can make sitting down to a meal together a bit challenging. Here are some tips for organizing family dinners.
· Set a goal that works with your schedule. Try starting twice a week and build from there.
· Keep it simple. Family meals do not have to be elaborate. Try to incorporate salads and vegetables into meals.
· Be prepared. Keep ingredients for healthful meals on hand, including plenty of fruits and vegetables
· Keep healthy “appetizers” on hand. Stock the kitchen with fresh fruits, nuts and low-fat cheese-stuff the kids can snack on after school, instead of chips.
· Get the whole family involved. Let the kids help prepare and set the table.
· Use a crock pot. Put everything together before leaving for work in the morning. You will come home to the delicious smell of a cooked meal.
· Picking up take-out or ordering a pizza is okay, but attempt to make “fast food” an exception rather than a regular routine. It still counts as quality time together even if you did not make the meal.
Why not take a few minutes right now to plan your meal for tomorrows’ family day? You may want to check out this site: http://www.kidsacookin.ksu.edu/. The “Hooked on Salmon Sticks” or the “Lemon Pepper Chicken and Veggies” recipes would make a great entrée. The Kids a Cookin’ site has wonderful kid tested recipes that are simple enough for youngsters to help with the preparation. From snacks to main dishes to quick and easy desserts I think you will enjoy the recipes.
Donna Krug, is the Family and Consumer Science Agent with K-State Research and Extension – Barton County. She may be reached at (620)793-1910 or firstname.lastname@example.org