What do Family Meals Look Like? Harmons Dietitians Weigh In.
Your Harmons Dietitians are huge advocates of sharing meals together, but not every family or situation is the same. This week we wanted to give you a little glimpse into our homes to prove that no matter the situation, it’s possible to enjoy more meals with people you care about to reap the benefits we’ve talked about during Family Meals Month.
Family Meals are a priority for me even though it is just my husband and I having dinner together. With our busy schedules, I feel it helps us to stay connected and, just like for other types of families, helps us to eat more healthfully. We sit down together once per week (usually while we are eating breakfast at a favorite cafe) and plan what we'd both like to eat that week. One of our favorite meals in the fall is this Italian Sausage Lentil Soup. Not only is a great for dinner, but I often make a double batch so that we have leftovers for lunch.
With a blended family including five kids, mealtime can be chaotic at my house! Soccer, dance, school, friends, and jobs make it necessary for us to sometimes eat in “shifts”, but we try to eat as many dinners together as possible or at least overlap so we get to connect for a minute as a family of seven. I don’t know how I would survive without a crockpot and Instant Pot! I enjoy planning dinners that we all agree on, like our new favorite Italian Eggs, but I’m a realist and kid favorites like grilled cheese or quesadillas aren’t leaving the meal rotation anytime soon. One trick I’ve used for years is making a crudités plate (that’s cut veggies for us less fancy folks) before starting dinner. Instead of whining about being starved or asking about dinner 500 times, everyone is welcome to an appetizer or fresh veggies and dip while they wait. It’s been a great way to get my kids to try new things too!
Because I don't live with family, "family meal" takes on a little different meaning. Sometimes it's offering my leftovers to a tired roommate who has finished a long day at work. Sometimes it's planning a potluck with good friends. Food brings people together, not only specifically families. All of my friends know that I jokingly declare "FOOD" as my love language…but there is some real validity to that. Whether I'm taking the time to cook for someone, having it prepared for me, or getting lost in good conversation at a restaurant, food creates experiences that foster love and relationships. So no matter your family dynamic or living situation, make time for food with loved ones and all the good that comes with it.
As a dietitian married to a chef, you can imagine that our house loves a good meal. My husband works late, and because he cooks and creates dishes for a living, the last thing he wants to do at home is more work! Luckily, I love to cook and really enjoy trying new recipes and my hand at creating my own recipes. It's a match made in heaven but it also means that we don't get to eat many meals together since he gets home long after dinner time. We make a point to share a quick breakfast together in the morning, and when we do have nights off together, it's a team effort. I choose the recipe, he does the prep, and I do the cooking. Our vacations and favorite memories always start around a meal. It's the foundation of both our professional and personal lives, and at the end of the day it's a social time where we unwind, enjoy good conversation, happy vibes, and satisfied taste buds.
For my fiancé and I, family meals are both a tradition and centerpiece of many of our gatherings. Between the first Sunday of the month potluck dinner with his family and the weekly game and cooking nights with our friends, we enjoy meals with our friends and family on countless occasions. Now granted we’re not always a fan of every dish we eat, and cooking with several people in the kitchen can at times be hectic, but it’s the time spent creating, tasting, laughing, and enjoying each other’s company that truly brings us all together.
Between my work schedule and my husband’s school schedule, it can be difficult to spend time together–especially when I am an early riser and he operates best past 10 pm! Dinner is the one guaranteed hour we spend together. It is during this time we unwind, laugh, and talk about important things we have coming up for the week. Family dinner with my husband is what keeps our relationship going, and is something I look forward to every day. Between my cooking and his cleaning skills, we make a great team!
As you can see, no two families are alike. The take home message is eat more meals together with the people you love, no matter what that looks like in your home!