Throughout the past week, how many times have you sat down together as a family and enjoyed a meal together? If you had to think about it, chances are it was far less than the recommended four times for optimal family functioning long term. Long commutes, numerous after school activities coupled with relentless traffic tends to mean that family meals, during the week at least, are a thing of the past, with dinner often consumed at 3 or 4 different time intervals and meal concoctions throughout an evening for the average over-committed family.
Weekends on the other hand, offer an opportunity to make up for lost meal times – a regular opportunity for families of all ages, sizes and locations to come together and enjoy a homemade meal together. An opportunity for young children to role model good eating behaviours from adults, to learn the appropriate manners, eating speed and have it reiterated that dinner does not always translate to 2 minute noodles or chicken nuggets with a few token vegetables. An opportunity for much needed time together to communicate, share, laugh and listen.
Despite the rapid rise in television shows that promote cooking at home and involving children in the kitchen, few would argue that a home cooked meal from scratch is becoming less and less common as we grab other quick and easy options that can ensure dinner is on the table in minutes rather than hours. Weekends then, also offer a chance to savour the food preparation process – to shop for ingredients at local markets or shopping centres, to plan the menu, to involve children or even grownups in the preparation process.
What may seem like a lot of work, is also an investment in your family’s future for research has shown that children who grow up in a family that enjoy s a meal together at least 4 times each week do better at school, are less likely to have drug and alcohol problems and function better psycho-socially. So this week, instead of grabbing a take away menu and settling down in the front of the TV for the evening why not start a weekly ritual of a family meal? Aim for it to be the same meal each week, say Friday night dinner or Sunday lunch and involve the kids in selecting the menu. Set the table, give each family member an opportunity to talk about the week they are getting ready for and give each family member designated jobs.
Sitting down to enjoy a meal together is one of life’s most simple pleasures and one that families have been missing out on for too long. Give it a go, you may find that you even enjoy the family that you have recently forgotten you have.
Don’t forget to share your family meal as part of my Peppercorn midweek meals competition to win a De’Longhi MultiFry appliance as well as a goodies pack of Peppercorn products and merchandise. Simply share recipe using Peppercorn Extra Lean Beef Sausages over on the Peppercorn Facebook page by Sunday, 3rd May.