Building a Family with Weeknight Meals

Building a Family with Weeknight Meals

In a busy household with kids participating in school activities and both parents working, it can be difficult to find time to spend together as a family. All too often families fall into the habit of grabbing fast food on the way home from practice or ordering pizza, because it is just about bedtime. This behavior is disturbing not only because the nutritious value of these meals is lacking, but also because the family bond is disintegrating.

Strong Ties and Good Habits

When parents do not ensure that a strong family link is formed, children tend to grow into teens with problems including drug and alcohol abuse. When parents do not teach children how to eat properly, they are far more likely to continue eating unhealthily as adults leading to illness and obesity. Family meals allow family members to interact on a regular basis, and they allow parents to know what is going on in their children’s’ lives. Meals that are planned and served when a family sits down together every night to eat are more likely to be comprised of nutritious food including fruits and vegetables.

Finding the Time

Depending on a family’s schedule, it can take a Herculean effort to make family meals happen, however, once the schedules are adjusted, the results will be well worth while. Finding the time to plan, shop, and cook the meals will be an adjustment for a family that has not been breaking bread together on a regular basis, but once they get in the swing of things it will be hard to imagine that they ever functioned differently.

Finding What Works

When making the transition, it is a good idea to identify what derailed the dinner hour in the first place. Oftentimes school schedules, work schedules and sports schedules collide, and there is no time left over to plan or prepare meals. Busy families may find that doing some preparation on the weekends is helpful. Other families may enlist older children to help prepare the meal. Still other families may choose to cook a week’s worth of meals on the weekend and slide them in the freezer, so that they are ready to pop into the oven for a weeknight dinner. Every family will find a routine that works to make weeknight family meals possible for them.

Life Lessons

The lessons learned around the dinner table are invaluable. Simple chores like setting the table, pouring drinks and clearing plates all encourage kids to pitch in and work as an agreeable unit. This is also the perfect place to instill civilized manners in a child. Parents can encourage a child to sit up straight, chew with their mouth closed or not talk with food in their mouth. Children learn to have a conversation, to listen and to respond. Children learn to pass the salt, complement the chef, and say grace. There is a certain ritual to an evening meal, and as a result good manners and life lessons are learned gradually over many years of the family gathering around the dinner table to enjoy an evening meal together.

By Veronica Smith of

About the Author

Veronica Smith, a contributing writer and designer for, offers tips on displaying metal art sculpture and contemporary metal wall hangings.