Family meal time is important, it allows the family to bond. Homecooked meals provide children a healthy and fresh meal over takout. Homecooked meals need not be difficult, follow my smart recipes that allow you to cook smarter.

Family meals are one of the only remaining opportunities to spend quality time together, and the small moments spent preparing and enjoying dinners pay big dividends. When families take the time to create routines and traditions in their lives, such as sharing family meals, it establishes stability and connection within the family unit. Many studies show that children who eat regular meals with their families have lower rates of obesity and depression, demonstrate greater resilience in the face of challenges, and exhibit higher self-esteem. Evidence also indicates that teens who report eating several meals a week with their families are less likely to use drugs or engage in other risky behaviors.

Cooking Together

Preparing meals together can be a lot of fun, and it helps children develop independence and confidence. Kids who are involved in meal planning and preparation often demonstrate a deeper respect for their food and the processes involved in getting it to the table in a form they enjoy eating. Cooking healthy, smart recipes also teaches young ones to be more conscious of what they"re putting in their bodies.

Eating Together

Eating meals together in a positive and supportive atmosphere can be therapeutic for children and adults. There’s so little time to connect and truly communicate, and nightly dinners can become a regular place for this. Each member of your family can share something about their day, or anything else they’d like to talk about. Experiment with different ways to bring your family together for dinner to find out what works. Even if you decide to leave out the extra conversation, and just eat together, you’ll find that doing this regularly positively influences your relationships.

Kid Friendly Recipes

To reap the benefits of family meal times, you don’t have to prepare elaborate meals. In fact, simple, creative recipes with noteworthy flavors make it easier for children to help prepare meals, while still satisfying a more grown up pallet.

These smart recipes make it easy for you and the kids to cook meals suited to the time of year, using seasonal ingredients. The hearty and savory flavors of the Salisbury Steak and Savory German Potato Salad are great for cooler days when you want something warm and filling, while the Baja Fish Tacos and Stuffed Avocado Salad are perfect for warm summer evenings on the patio. Of course, no family meal would be complete without something to satisfy your sweet tooth. You"ll find these luscious desserts appeal to a wide array of preferences.

Here are some custom menus, that I have developed exclusively for this blog post – they are all simple and kid friendly. They are sure to be a hit at family meal time.

Savory Salisbury Steak Supper

Create the comforting flavors of down-home dishes like my Ultimate Salisbury Steak, a hearty blend of juicy ground chuck, savory spices, tender mushrooms and pan gravy. Pair it with a side of Savory German Potato Salad, loaded with crunchy bacon, fragrant herbs and a warm vinaigrette. Finish your meal with a cool and refreshing Simply Strawberry Sorbet, made with fresh strawberries and a splash of agave nectar.

Slow Cooked Navy Bean Supper

No matter which side of the Mason-Dixon Line you call home, your family will love this Slow-Cooked Navy Bean Supper! Imagine a steaming bowl of tender navy beans simmered with an aromatic medley of diced veggies, ham, bacon and spicy kicks of cayenne and jalapeno peppers! Let your slow cooker do the work for you. Try my easy Down- South Cornbread salad with robust veggies and cubes of cheesy homemade cornbread. For dessert, enjoy this decedent Sweet Potato Cheesecake with a buttery graham cracker crust, sweet potato-infused cream filling and a crunchy pecan glaze topping.

Easy Thai Chicken Curry

Instead of ordering take-out, try this quick and easy Thai-inspired menu. Sample the Quick Thai Chicken Curry with fresh green beans, savory curry spices and coconut milk over steamed rice. It is a tasty pair with Crunchy Thai Papaya Salad, featuring veggies, crunchy peanuts and a zesty peanut sauce. Save room for the delightful Caramel Spice Trifle that is infused with cinnamon and glazed with dulche de leche and walnuts.
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