September, Family Meals month is a good time to set a successful dinner table especially in the fall with hectic family schedules. Interviewing me for her blog post, Chere Bork, registered dietitian, energy igniter, coach and co- author of the Five Ingredient Cookbook asked me as the Family Meals Dietitian to share some tips to help put some healthy foods on the table in no time at all, and so I share these tips with you today.
Barbara’s Five Family Meal Saving Secrets!
Be Flexible. Adapt meals to the way you and your family live, but make it healthy! If you work late and need to get your children off the bus to a game or practice, plan ahead so you can sit and eat before or grab a satisfying snack (string cheese and a fruit) to hold you over until you get home and eat a meal together sitting (not standing) together at the table!
Cook Together. Eat Together Stick Together. Good memories start in the kitchen preparing the food. Get family (or friends) of all ages to help. Peeling, chopping, washing teach basic cooking skills. Setting a “proper” table can help start good table manners; and just gathering together encourages conversation. Aim to sit together with family at least twice a week if you cannot go for all 7. Invite your children’s friend to stay for dinner, too. At the table and in the car to and from practice, parties, play dates, etc. are two great places you learn about their lives.
Make Mealtimes Memorable. Start by bringing a healthy attitude to the table. It helps to make a favorite food from a member in the family. If you introduce something new to the meal, it helps to bring a little known fact or family history about that food to increase acceptance. Trite but true, put away all devices and enjoy a conversation. Ask each other, especially your children, what was the favorite part of their day or what they are looking forward to? I raised two boys, and learned very quickly – never to ask, “Did you have a good day?” The answer was always “good”. Ask the open-ended questions, for example, “Tell me about 2 good things that happened to you today?
Salad is a Staple at Dinner. Salads can help curb your appetite so you don’t overeat. Barbara’s mom served a salad with every meal, (so did mine) and she continues the tradition. Choose greens rich in Vitamins A, C and potassium, too! Barbara loves using escarole, chicory, arugula, and romaine or a combo. Sliced tomatoes or beets are also easy stand-alone salads. My go-to dressing is extra virgin olive oil with vinegar or lemon juice but choose something you like. For me, dinner is not a complete without a salad.
When you do all these tips you will find yourself savoring the savings. Cook and eat at home! Your wallet will thank you. Most often you can make a protein and two sides at half the cost of dining out. Plus, no tipping required. Again schedules can get in the way, so cook double on your off day and you will have enough for leftovers to heat and serve during the week when time is scarce.
My sons Daniel and Michael having fun together raised their soup bowls to enjoy the very last drop.
What are your tips to get a healthy meal on your family dinner table? We can’t wait to hear!
Chere and Barbara
More About Barbara
Barbara Baron, RDN works with individuals, health care providers, and organizations who want more energy, time and money while juggling demands of family, work and fun! A mother of two, she has over 30 years of bringing good tasting healthy foods to the table believing it is critical to become your own healthy eating advocate, be an MVP, using a three prong approach shedding light on the important roles of Moderation, Variety and Planning.
She loves visiting fresh farm markets and the ethnic neighborhoods! Born and raised in Brooklyn, Barbara especially loves visiting tried, true and even new specialty food shops. Ms. Baron dishes up health tips to meet your personal needs to improve health for you and your family, believing in a simple yet a forgotten concept bringing loved ones back to the table to share their stories over a healthy good tasting meal instead of in front of a screen! As a working mother of two, now in their twenties, she understands juggling work and family! In her free time, loves yoga, cross-country skiing, bike riding, and simply walking and relaxing on the beach.
Barbara Enjoying the NJ shore!