What better day than Father’s Day to consider how important family meals are? According a Vanier Institute article, people’s hurried lives equate to skipped breakfasts, lunches eaten at work stations, and dinners that are subjected to severe time crunches. They found that work schedules and children’s activities make family meal preparation a challenge, with 55% of Canadians preparing dinners in 15 minutes or less.
Family meal patterns can have a direct impact on our health and well-being. AboutKidsHealth is a great source of information on how to get the family involved in meal planning, and by extension, increase everyone’s health outcomes. “Depending on the children’s developmental ages and stages, they may be able to help with: planning the menu calendar; preparing shopping lists; shopping; putting the groceries away; and food preparation and clean-up.” The farmer’s market is an ideal place to practice, and pass along those meal planning skills.
The Nutrition Wise blog from the Mayo Clinic provides a list of benefits to eating at least 3-5 meals per week together as a family. These include: “a sense of family connectedness, routine and stability; improved school performance; lower risk of substance abuse and delinquency; healthier eating habits; and healthier weight and a reduced risk of obesity and disordered eating.” Beyond shopping, preparing, and consuming food, there are a multitude of other opportunities to connect through food.
Growing food is an excellent way to start raising awareness of where our food comes from, and establishing an appreciation for the work it takes to meet even a small portion of our dietary needs. If you lack the space or time to grow your own food, consider visiting a farm. This is a perfect time of year to visit farms that offers u-pick strawberries. Harvesting berries is hard work, but something that provides a good bonding experience for families. Freezing the berries or making jam will allow you to enjoy the harvest for months to come.