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Family Meals: Serving Up More than Just Nourishment

School is back in session and with it comes hectic evenings of running kids to after-school activities. With little time at home, eating on the go has become a way of survival. The importance of family meal time is nothing new, but emerging research reminds us just how critical it is to serve up family time at the dinner table.

Recent studies show that both parents and children may reap long-term benefits from gathering around the dinner table. Research published in the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics found children that had better family meal environments showed higher levels of fitness and social skills, and lower levels of soft-drink consumption and aggressiveness. For parents, another study showed that moving evening meal time prior to 9 p.m., or two hours before bed, reduced the risk of breast and prostate cancers.

Savoring time together nourishes our body and mind. Unfortunately, finding time is a key obstacle. In honor of National Family Meals Month, here are a few ideas to put into practice this September:

  • Enjoy a family picnic at the park before the game.
  • If dinner isn’t an option, have breakfast together.
  • Plan meals with after-school activities in mind.
  • Involve the family in planning/preparing.
  • Batch cook or prepare meals on weekends.
  • Use tools. Slow cookers and instant pots make mealtime effortless.
  • Purchase foods that save time, such as precut vegetables, rotisserie chicken and deli sides.
  • Remember, meals don’t need to be elaborate to be enjoyed together.

Reach out to the nutritionists at Giant Food Stores for more ideas. Join Giant Foods local nutritionist Kilene Knitter, RD, LDN, at 6 p.m., September 13, for Personalize Your Pack, a fun and interactive culinary nutrition experience at Zest! Cooking School, located at 1180 Erbs Quarry Rd., Lititz. To register, visit /cooking-classes/. For more information, visit

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