Smelling the aroma of a home-cooked meal from down the street was a daily occurrence in my neighborhood when I was growing up. The sweet smell was always followed by momma’s voice saying, “Time to eat. Come on in. Wash your hands and get to the table.”
Now, it seems that all we hear is: “Would you like to make that a combo?”
What happened to the good-ole days where families sat down together to eat dinner and talk about the day’s happenings? It seems that fast food restaurants have helped make dinner a fast, convenient meal, especially in the times of two working parents, kids’ soccer practice, church activities and various other daily tasks.
Even when we do cook at home, we don’t sit down at the table. Everyone grabs their plates and heads to the couch to watch TV or to their room to get back on the Internet.
As generations change, we have moved from the table to the living room. So how and why do we need to get back to the table?
Numerous studies show that children who regularly eat meals with their families have a larger vocabulary and score higher on academic achievement test. Having dinner together reinforces the family unit and allows families to have great communication with each other.
Family meals also give parents the opportunity to display appropriate table manners, meal etiquette and social skills. Involving your family in menu planning, grocery shopping and food preparation is fun for everyone. Children who help make a meal are more likely to eat it.
Maybe your schedule doesn’t always afford the opportunity to eat with your family every night, so start off doing it once a week. Write it on your calendar as you would a dinner date. Preparing ahead of time will definitely make it more convenient.
Make the menu for a week and go to the grocery store ahead of time. Having sit-down dinners can be a nightly treat for you and your family. It will amaze you to see the difference a sit-down dinner will make.
For information on how to start Expanded Food and Nutrition classes in your school, church or community, contact Tamika McLean, 4-H Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program assistant with North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Robeson County Center, at 910-671-3276, by email at Tamika_McLean@ncsu.edu or visit our website at http://robeson.ces.ncsu.edu.