10 Reasons to Have Family Meals More Often

189 - Family DinnerWhen was the last time your family had a meal together?

I don't mean sitting in the car munching on burgers from the drive-through. I mean sitting down at the table and sharing a home-cooked meal. If you can't remember when you last enjoyed a family dinner, make plans to have them more often.

Experts have found - and continue to discover - plenty of benefits for both children and adults when families have dinner together at least three times a week. I know...I know, it's not always easy, so click here if you need help with meal planning and grocery shopping.

Here are 10 reasons why you should have family meals more often:

Good For The Body

1. When families eat together, everyone tends to eat healthier. People who have frequent family meals consume more calcium, fiber, iron, and vitamins B6, B12, C and E. It could be because home-cooked meals are healthier than fast food and restaurant meals. (Source: Archives of Family Medicine)

2. Children tend to eat more fruits and vegetables when they frequently have dinner with their families. They also tend to eat fewer snack foods. (Source: American Dietetic Association)

3. Children in families who eat dinner together are less likely to be overweight (Source: Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine). This makes sense, given the findings in #1 and #2 above.

Good For The Brain

4. Children from families who eat meals together get better grades than their peers who don't have lots of family meal times (Source: Lou Harris-Reader's Digest National Poll). So family dinners are not only good for the body; they're also good for the brain.

5. When families eat together frequently, children have better language skills compared to kids from families who don't have family mealtimes often. (Source: Harvard University) Good For Emotional Health 6. Children of families who eat together report feeling happier and are more optimistic about the future, than their peers who have infrequent family meals. (Source: Lou Harris- Reader's Digest National Poll)

7. Teenagers are less likely to use drugs, smoke, and drink alcoholic drinks, when their families eat together regularly. (Source: Columbia University)

8. It may come as a surprise, but among Moms who work outside the home, those who have family mealtimes reported feeling less stress than those who had family dinners less often. (Source: Family and Consumer Sciences Research Journal)

9. The more often teen girls had meals with their families, the less likely they were to have symptoms of depression and suicidal behaviors. (Source: University of Minnesota)

Good For Family Bonding

10. Eating together gives family members the chance to communicate and build relationships, something that both adults and children appreciate very much. (Source: Nutrition Education Network of Washington & Oprah Winfrey's "Family Dinner Experiment") I hope these reasons motivate you and your family to try and eat together more often. We're all busy - even children have plenty of after-school activities.

But as the list above shows, family meals are worth every effort we put into them. It helps to plan ahead so that we're not scrambling to get dinner ready or panicking because we don't have all the ingredients we need.

To make it easier to get the family around the table with a home-cooked meal, check out Dine Without Whine's menu planning service. It cost just a penny to try it out!

Drop the Weight with Pre-Planned Meals

We all spend a great deal of time planning the major events in our lives such as weddings and graduations, so why not plan out meals to lose weight. We all see commercials on television for companies that will deliver ready made meals to your door, but are they worth it? Advertising on television reveals that some of these pre-made meal plans cost about $70 (or more!) a week. Fine print also reveals that necessary staples such as milk, cereal, not to mention coffee and the like are not included. This can surely add up, especially if you still have a family to feed. So what is the best and most affordable way to lose weight fast?

Drop the Weight with Pre-Planned Meals

Having a plan of attack when visiting the grocery store is a great way to plan a smart and affordable menu to help you lose weight. It is recommended that you load up on fruits and vegetables that you commonly cook with. When you get home from the store, wash and cut them so that they are ready to use and convenient to cook with and snack on.

Next make your own pre-planned meals by doubling up on recipes. Freezing the left-overs in individual containers makes for a quick and easy, not to mention pre-portioned meal for in the future. Following this step will cut back on the time that is spent preparing meals and money in the long run.

Finally, by taking the time to make your own pre-planned meals to lose weight, you know that you are getting fresh food that does not contain any preservatives. Most programs that offer pre-planned meals do not require refrigeration of their food. That leads one to wonder about all the additives and preservatives that are added to keep the food fresh. Also, preparing your own meals ensures that there is no added ingredients that you dislike or allergic to.

Susan Patterson has been studying alternative medicine and health for over 10 years. She loves to write to help others, especially in the area of quick weight loss which can be accomplished safely. She has found several herbal remedies to be effective in her journey to better health without the side effects that medications cause.

7 Back-to-School Lunch Tips


Don't look now, but school's here! Are you ready for one of the biggest challenges for Moms of school-age kids - preparing school lunches day after day?

There's hope and help for you yet. Here are 7 back-to-school lunch tips. Hey, I can't come over and make your kids' lunches for you, but these tips will surely make it much easier:

1. Make dinner do double-duty

You're already in the kitchen preparing your family's dinner, why not use that time to get a head-start on the next day's brown bag lunches?

Make a double batch of meals that taste just as good "the morning after," you know, like fried chicken. Or cook dishes that can be transformed into something "new", such as pasta sauce that's just as yummy as pizza topping (on ready-made crust of course).

To make meal planning easier, take a look at Dine Without Whine. It's a monthly service for planning your family's meals and grocery shopping.

2. Include lunches when meal planning

To do tip #1, you need to be more organized. This means including  your kids' lunches when planning your family dinners.

3. Let the kids participate

Lighten your load and teach your children some important life skills at the same time. Even small children can help  prepare their lunches.

If morning is too stressful, then make this an after-dinner activity - which brings us to...

4. Make advance preparations

Do whatever you can do ahead of time. For example, cook in batches on the weekend, or put leftovers in packable containers the night before.

5. DIY fast food

Commercial packed lunches are attractive but unhealthy. But who says you can't make your own? Buy your own colorful and attractive lunch boxes, such as a bento-style lunchbox.

Fill it up with a variety of healthy food. Think of mixing up foods with different textures and colors. And cut them up into small pieces so they're easy and fast to eat.

6. Soup it Up

Soup makes a quick and healthy lunch. You can cook a large pot in the weekend and pack it in a thermos for a warm and satisfying lunch. Serve with whole wheat bread and some fresh fruit and you've got a complete meal!

7. Sprinkle in some fun

Sneak a little surprise into your child's lunchbox once in a while. It could be a little chocolate treat, stickers, or a sweet note from you. Getting something unexpected makes lunch fun.

With planning and creativity, your children can have healthy, delicious lunches without too much work for you.

For meal planning help, go to Dine Without Whine. It makes meal planning a breeze, while helping you save time and money.

Then you'll have time and energy for those school lunches.

Deep Fried Turkey – How To Video

Would you like a simple & delicious way to prepare your turkey this year?  Try deep frying it.  We've deep fried our turkey for the past five years.  It is never dry, always juicy and never greasy (believe it or not).  I doubt we will ever return to traditional turkey roasting.

Here is a great "how-to" video from Alton Brown - one of my favorite Food TV hosts.  The only drawback to turkey frying is that it can be very dangerous.  The video does a great job of explaining how to fry it safely.




Mac-N-Cheese or Cracked Pepper Albacore Steak with a Mediterranean Spinach Salad? You Decide.

[ Mediterranean Supreme™ ] 

Which would you rather have for lunch?  Alright - chances are...at least 75% of you are voting for the Mac-n-Cheese...but what if I told you that the second option is quicker and healthier?  Would you try it? BUMBLE BEE Prime Fillet® Albacore Steak Entrées

Earlier this month I told you about my less than flattering "Real Age" test where I "matured" considerably.  In my quest to find simple, quick and healthy meals I went straight to the "bagged" aisle.   Yes, I know "bagged" doesn't exactly scream "nutritious"...but bear with me....I used to survive on foods from the canned aisle....this was a step-up.

My results showed that I needed to eat more "leafy greens" and fish so I gave these products a try.  Baby steps, right?

As I was heating up some tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches for the kiddos I threw together a tossed salad while nuking a tuna steak for myself.  It was De-Lish!    The tuna steak was wonderful.  It was moist, firm and with additional squeeze of lemon juice and ground pepper - I would not have known that it wasn't fresh.

The salad was even better.  It contained foccacia bread croutons, a fantastic dijon vinaigrette and a bag of baby spinach leaves.  Needless to say, I was pleasantly shocked.  =)

I almost felt *fancy* despite my paper plate and neon green plastic spoon.

It just goes to show that you don't need to settle for mac-n-cheese, spagetti-o's, hotdogs for a quick and easy lunch!