Family Dinner-Make it Happen

  • Family meals are an important life issue.
  • Start by articulating to your family that family meals are a priority.
  • By making it a priority it sets the stage for future planning of activities.
  • With every new activity, consider how the activity will affect family meal times.
  • Set a goal, make it realistic - – If your family never sits down together, perhaps eating together for just twice a week is a good starting point.
  • Set a regular family mealtime that works for everyone.
    • Dinner time
    • Breakfast
    • Lunch time on the weekends
  • Solicit menu ideas from your family
    • Involving the family helps
    • Make a list of family favorites; at least 10 menu ideas
    • Favorite menus will bring people to the table
  • Agree on a weekly menu - Decide on what will be served for the week
  • Post it somewhere visible
  • Make a grocery list based on your menu - – Shop according to what you need for the week.
  • Try theme meals during the week:







Meatless Mondays:

Vegetarian meals


Taco Tuesdays

Wellness Wednesdays:

Salads, light fare


Take out Thursday

Fish Fridays



  • Consider crock pot cooking
      • Put ingredients in crock pot in the morning before you leave for work;
      • Return to a fully cooked meal!
    • Take-out or pizza delivery counts as a family dinner
      • Make it a treat not an everyday occurrence.
      • Cook once; eat twice
      • Consider recipes that use the same main ingredients
    • Ground meat for meatballs one day; tacos the next.
      • Cook large batches of chili, spaghetti sauce, etc. and freeze. Enjoy days later.
    • Use spaghetti sauce in your lasagna another day
      • Cook large batches of soup
      • Leftovers!!!
    • Weekend cooking alleviates stress during the week.
      • Make large casserole dishes, large batches of soup, etc. and eat these during the week
      • Put away grocery shopping in a way that will facilitate cooking during the week.
      • Store meat in a freezer tight bag with marinade to save you time during the week
    • Use:
      • Frozen vegetables
      • Frozen fruits
      • Canned beans (rinse before using)
      • Rice cooker
      • Crock pots
      • De-clutter the dining room table - Set some ground rules
        • Telephone calls, messages, emails, etc. will not be made or taken during family meal times
        • All electronics including cell phone, e-readers etc. will be off the table
        • Reading materials will not be allowed on the table
        • Turn the television OFF.
        • Any kind of distraction will deter conversation.
      • Make meal time fun and light
      • Establish a quick family tradition that fosters conversation:
        • Rose/Thorn -Rose: name one good thing that happened to you today; Thorn: share a not so good thing that happened today and how did you handle this situation?
        • Name one interesting thing you learned, saw, or heard today?
      • Make table time enjoyable and not dreadful:
        • Keep table talk positive
        • Keep table time at a realistic time

Article written by: Julia Salomón MS, RDN, CD, corporate dietitian, Affinity Health System.