At EatLove, we understand the importance of sitting down for a meal with those we love, and help to make it possible to create mealtime habits and memories without all of the stress. We understand there are many decisions which are made and preferences to be considered when preparing a meal. Every good meal is comprised of so many parts, and is not just one single activity. It can be broken down into planning, shopping, prepping, cooking, and then finally eating and enjoying the food. While the majority of these tasks may fall on one member of the family, if we open up the conversation, everyone can take part in shaping the important decisions around family meal time.
Regardless the size of your family or if you are cooking for yourself, each of us come to the table with different goals and preferences related to food choices, preparation, where food is purchased, how food is presented, where we eat our meals, and who cleans up afterward. So why does this matter? Understanding how we make decisions about our food and health can lead to improving our family meal experiences and eating habits.
According to Ardyth H. Gillespie and Gilbert W. Gillespie Jr., authors of the article Family Food Decision-making: An Ecological Systems Framework, our food decisions are influenced by those we live with, and with the understanding of our food decisions comes positive dietary changes. Most of our food decisions and rituals have become habitual, requiring little to no discussion. Only when we know how we arrived at our habits around food can we truly begin to change them.
Here are some questions and ideas to get you thinking about your own family food rituals. Grab a pen and paper, and sit down with your family to see what you can come up with together:
- Who does the meal planning and grocery shopping?
If one person does the planning and shopping in your household, perhaps you can try doing so together. This is a great way to spend time with and help one another.
- What are your favorite and least favorite foods your family eats?
Our tastes are unique, and that is what can make meal preparation fun, but also sometimes challenging. For example, you may have one family member who wants to eat more pescatarian meals, while another dislikes fish. Or perhaps one family member wants to try a new cuisine every week, while another could eat the same meal over and over again. To account for multiple food preferences and tastes, we offer several different diets, avoidances, and cuisines so you can customize just for your family. For a fun activity, each family member could take a turn planning one meal a week that they’ve personally picked out themselves. This helps everyone feel included and excited about the family mealtime.
- What food and/or meal goals do you and your family have?
Just as our previous blog posts have explored, each of us has different goals when it comes to meal planning and preparation. For example, you may want to meal plan only 3 days each week, or your family may have a financial budget. EatLove allows you to set goals around preparation, budget, cooking time, and servings of fruits, vegetable, and nutrients.
- What food routines are you most and least satisfied with?
Many of us wish to make changes to our current routines. For example, we hear from many families they wish to avoid last minute meal decisions. By planning ahead, for the whole week or even just one day, we can help you cut back on the stress of making food decisions on the spot.
- What changes would you like to make to your current food routines, such as grocery shopping, preparation, and clean up?
After answering the first four questions with your family, think about the changes you wish to make, set a S.M.A.R.T goal, and work toward it together. You can set any goal, such as choosing a day to meal plan together, or sharing your favorite meal ideas with one another and shopping together for the groceries.
As you can see, there are many facets to our family food and eating routines, and recognizing them can help you to make positive change. Eatlove honors your family goals and values, and we are here to help make mealtime decisions easier, more enjoyable, and fit your individual health needs. Want to try EatLove today? Check out our free 3-day plan and get started!
Julie Shimko, MA and Tara Linitz, MS RD