Family Meal Time: Why is Something So Simple So Important?

Family Meal

Did you know that August is Family Meals Month? With summer coming to an end, school getting in to full swing and all the activities that fill our calendars this time of year, it’s not uncommon to let family mealtime fall to the bottom of the priority list. However, by making family meal time a priority, you’re creating an environment for a healthy family, helping your kids make better decisions and do better in school, as well as saving your families hard earned money.

Did you know that kids who eat dinner with their family are more likely to perform well in school? Only 9% of students who eat with their family are likely to get C’s on their report card. However, this number over doubles to 20% in students who do not eat with their families this frequently.1 Family dinners are a great place to recap the day, both academically and personally. Take some time at dinner to discuss what’s going on in your child’s classes and also what’s going on in the hallways.

Another benefit of family meals is that you can use this as an opportunity to demonstrate healthy eating habits. Many kids only know what tastes good. They haven’t learned the importance of eating healthy foods to fuel their bodies and their brains. Cook foods that taste good and provide nutrition to your family. Not sure where to start? “The Sneaky Chef to the Rescue” offers many great recipes that help you introduce new foods to your family by cooking them in to foods they already love. After they’ve eaten (and loved) it, it’s up to you if you tell them what’s in the recipe or not!

Lastly, are you looking to save a little money? In today’s tight economy, many families are looking to tighten the purse strings a bit. Cooking and eating together at home can help save your family extra money that you can use to go on a family trip or purchase a new game that you can play together. Statistics show that meals at home, on average, cost half as much as meals outside the home.1 What does the math look like? If you’re family stayed home one night per week that you typically go out, a meal that would have cost you $45 will now only cost $22.50. Over 1 year, the savings adds up to $1170 over one year. That’s just by changing your habit one night per week.

The bottom line is that family meals are good for your whole family. There is not one aspect of your family life that would be negatively impacted. The key to making this successful is to turn it in to a fun activity; don’t make it a chore. Get everyone involved in the cooking and cleaning, you’ll be teaching your children great life lessons while enjoying some much needed family together time!

Need a little help? Let’s face it, schedules are tight! “Make Ahead Meals Made Healthy” offers delicious recipes that can be prepared ahead of time to make your evenings less stressful. Or, if you’re looking to make your meals as inexpensive as possible, “The $5 Dinner Mom Cookbook” is filled will healthy recipes that will feed your family on a budget.

Why do you love family meal time? Please share your thoughts with everyone! You can always share here on the blog, on Facebook, Twitter or Google+. Let’s start the conversation!

1 Source: CNN.com


Back to School Lunch: Yeah, it’s really that time again!

We’ve written a lot of blogs over the years about school lunch. But, it’s that time of year again. With students heading back to school everywhere across the country, we want to give parents all the tools they need to pack nutritious and yummy meals for their kids! This year, we’re focusing on R.A.W. foods! R.A.W. actually stands for Reducing America’s Waistline. But, the whole idea refers to ‘getting back to the basics’… cutting out the things that are hurting our bodies and focus on the things that help our bodies. Keep an eye out for your Fall 2012 NCES catalog for all of the new R.A.W. products! Don’t get one? Request your FREE copy here!

What are you packing in your student’s lunch? The types of foods that you’re packing are probably the most important aspect to remember when you’re making lunches for your family. Picture MyPlate when you’re packing, and always remember to fill half your plate with R.A.W. fruits & veggies. So, start by packing fresh vegetables. Try to be creative though… the last thing you want to do is turn your child off to the idea of veggies because they are forced to eat ones they don’t like the taste of. Most kids will enjoy the taste of carrots, fresh broccoli and cauliflower. If it helps, don’t be afraid to provide them a dipping sauce like Light Ranch. But, you have to be responsible for controlling the amount. Only send one serving so they don’t overdo it. Also be sure to include foods from each food group. Along with your vegetable, pack a whole wheat grain, a lean protein, dairy and fruit. All of these foods contain vitamins and nutrients that will help your student perform better in school, both physically and academically.

How much are you packing in your student’s lunch? Portion control is important, even for kids. As a matter of fact, it is especially important at this age because we are helping to create habits that kids will remember as they grow. Pay attention to the suggested portion sizes of the foods you’re packing. Remember, there really is no limit to the amount of fresh vegetables you should eat. So, if after packing all of the other elements (according to portion recommendations), you feel like your student will still be hungry; fill the rest of the lunchbox with fresh vegetables and fruits.

Coming up in the Fall 2012 catalog are “Easy Lunchboxes”. Pack lunches fast with these sturdy and reusable containers; great for work, school or travel and perfect for both children and adults. They are dishwasher, microwave & freezer safe and made of non-toxic, food safe polypropylene (PP). They are also BPA, PVC & Phthalate free. It doesn’t get much better than that! These lunchboxes are in the Fall 2012 catalog (hitting mailboxes soon) and will be available at www.NCEScatalog.com next week. Want to be the first to order yours? Send us an email at info@ncescatalog.com and we’ll let you know as soon as these lunchboxes are available for order!

What do you enjoy packing in your kids lunches?  We all learn best from each other! So, share your tips and tricks for successful school lunches here on our blog, on Facebook or on Twitter! We love hearing from you!


Veggies for the Picky Eater

As you may be aware, August is National Healthy Lunch Month, which provides a good opportunity to talk about making healthy lunches,  for you and your loved ones.
Feeding a picky child doesn’t necessarily have to be a big chore. In fact, there are several little tips that you can employ in order to help your child be a little more ‘open-minded’ when it comes to the fruits and vegetables that are good for them.
Let your child be a part of the process.  You can do this by letting them help grow the fruits or veggies in question. Or, even by letting them help pick it out at the store.  You may see some surprising results in their willingness to eat the vegetables.  The more a child is involved in what they’re eating, the better and easier it is to instill good eating habits early on in life, that will stick with them as they get older.
Letting your child help prepare the dish also can go a long way towards getting them to eat it. A matter of pride then pops up, and they might choose to eat it, and might even accidentally like it, since they provided it for the family (and themselves). Even at very young ages, some children have enough fine motor skills to shell peas, wash lettuce and pop beans.
Presenting the vegetable or fruit in a different manner can also help. Now, we’re not suggesting dipping it into honey glaze or anything like that, but allowing for a light ranch dip, or peanut butter can make that celery a bit more appetizing. Even sprinkling parmesan cheese on top goes a long way to improve the appeal of vegetables and fruits.
Tips like these, as well as helpful recipes, can be found in the book “Meals Without Squeals.” A good guide for parents, and a great guide for childcare providers when it comes to what foods you choose for your children. Look in the ‘Educated Kids’ section of our catalog, or search for item #3925 at www.ncescatalog.com.