October is national Eat Better, Eat Together month! This movement focuses on putting more effort and thought into the foods we choose to eat while promoting positive eating habits and sharing meals with others around us. Having meals with our friends and family can bring us many benefits including support for consuming nutritious food options, improved social skills, as well as potential saved money due to better budgeting. If cooking at home, this is also a wonderful opportunity to spend time with one’s partner or children to connect and work together.
Not only can cooking be a fun activity, data shows that when families eat together, meals tend to be more nutritious and include higher amounts of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. This also allows for a strong sense of community where we can check in with those around us and stay up to date with life changes that occur. At times it may be difficult to get all members of a group or family to make meal time a priority, but luckily there are ways that may help encourage everyone to get together. Consider the following:
- Plan a meal ahead of time that everyone has a role in, including all steps from chopping ingredients to cleanup of dishes.
- Let different members of the family come up with meals for the week so everyone gets to be included and can look forward to the meal they chose.
- Have pantry staples on hand such as pasta and jarred tomato sauce for a nutritious and quick meal in a pinch.
Through making small changes and sticking to them over time, these meals
shared with friends or loved ones can become more permanent. In addition, you may find that your cooking skills improve, and you enjoy foods you rarely ate before!