Weeknight family dinner can be hard. Meal Prep can make it easier though! Get tips on making family meals possible, even on school nights.
As the school year approaches, carefree summer nights will soon be replaced with the fast-paced buzz of afterschool activities, homework, meetings, and preparation for the next day. The busy school nights certainly provide plenty of entertainment, but as schedules become more and more crowded, enjoying a relaxing family meal grows more difficult. I can't tell you the number of times my weeknight meal took place in the back of the car. While I had no problem with eating on the run, research shows that there are numerous benefits to sharing a meal as a family.
The benefits of family mealtime range from increased communication and improved relationships to decreased risky behavior. Children and teens that spend mealtime with their families tend to get along better with others, have higher self-esteem, have higher grades, and feel more secure. Additionally, family meals tend to improve the nutritional quality of a child's dinner. They are likely to consume more fruits and vegetables and less fast food. In the case of children following a gluten-free diet, they have one less meal to think about. They don't have to ensure that the food they're choosing with friends is gluten-free.
Sometimes the meal-on-the-road is unavoidable. After all, a ten-minute stop to change into a soccer uniform isn't really enough time to sit down to a family meal. However, what about those nights where there's 45 minutes to spare? It may not be enough time to make and serve a meal from start to finish, but it is enough time to sit down to a meal. By prepping ahead you can take advantage of those nights and the family can spend 30 of those minutes sitting together and eating a homemade, healthy, and satisfying gluten-free meal.
At Prep Dish, we recommend taking one day too prep for the whole week! We call this day “prep day”. On prep day, you can chop, slice, and dice produce; prepare marinades; cook grains; and set-up a week's worth of meals and snacks that are ready to go with little or no additional work when you're ready to enjoy.
How to Make Family Meals Happen
- Make a plan
- Take time at the beginning of the week to figure out what meals and snacks you'd like to serve during the week.
- Create a list
- Figure out what ingredients you have and what ingredients you need. Make a grocery list to make grocery shopping smooth on prep day. (Check out “Armed With a List” for grocery list tips)
- Prep your meals
- Take a day at the beginning of the week for all of your extensive prepping. Prep day is the perfect opportunity to get the kids in the kitchen helping too!
- Heat, dish, and serve
- When you're ready to eat, heat your meal and finish any small prepping. Now you can enjoy as a family.
Planning and prepping ahead may seem like a lot of extra work, but will save tons of time during the week. However, to save more time, try a Prep Dish plan. We'll take care of the planning for you and help you get gluten-free meals to the table with ease!
Do you have any great family mealtime tips? Share your ideas and pictures on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram as @prepdish in all 3 places, or leave a comment below.