It’s a sobering fact of modern life that most young couples with children are under a lot of time pressure. More often than not, both mother and father have to juggle their stressful jobs with finding enough time and energy for some home life and, particularly, time with their children. This can put a lot of strain on the family unit. One of the biggest casualties is healthy eating and family mealtimes. It is just so much easier and quicker to rely on ready meals or take-away food.
This all means that we’re cooking less these days and that it is not a good thing. Not only are we losing the cookery skills that we used to take for granted but recent research suggests that kids who eat together around a dinner table with their parents tend to do better in school and learn healthier eating habits. It’s vital that dads try to establish better cooking habits, and we present 6 ways that they can do that for the better of their own health as well as their families.
1. Establish fixed mealtimes
Establish fixed and agreed breakfast, lunch and dinner times when the whole family will sit down together around the table and eat. If necessary, limit TV, phone, video and computer time in order to accommodate the family meal. Ideally, screen time should really be limited to 1-2 hours a day anyway.
2. Get your kids involved in the process
You’ll remember this in several of your new dad books because it works. By involving your kids in the planning of meals you’re really helping strengthen those co-operative bonds. For example, older kids can help with peeling and chopping while younger ones can help with counting and measuring. This can be extended to involving your children when you buy groceries so that they feel that their tastes are being taken into account. By reading food labels with your kids, you can also start to teach them about the different between healthy and less healthy food options.
3. Create a list of recipes
A lot of precious cooking time or family time is squandered while families argue about what to eat. Instead, why not plan your family meals a week ahead of time? There are so many sources on the internet of delicious, simple and healthy family recipes that it should really take no more than 20 minutes to compile them into a file. Your kids will appreciate dads cooking a lot more and you know exactly what the family is going to have for mealtimes. The added benefit of this is that it will also make grocery shopping much quicker.
4. Clean the kitchen as you go along
All good chefs know the importance of keeping a clean workstation. Not only does it mean that you have much less to clean up after you’ve made the meal, but it also gives you more space to work in while you’re making it. If you have a dishwashing machine, then get into the habit of loading it with dirty dishes right away. Also make sure that your kitchen is well stocked with cleaning cloths and products so you don’t have to waste more time looking around for them. Try to keep the kitchen as clean as possible not just for efficiency but to keep unwanted germs at bay too. A cleaner kitchen will make it much more desirable to be in and cook in.
5. Get outdoor cooking
As we approach better weather a BBQ is a real opportunity for dad to shine as a cook. Traditionally, BBQs have always been a dad thing anyway but a dad who can add some extra cooking skills to the usual BBQ fare will be a real hero in the eyes of his kids. So try to have BBQ days whenever the weather permits and invite round friends and family members to join. Everyone loves BBQ on a sunny day and, for your kids, it reinforces in their minds the importance of meal times as a social and family gathering.
6. Make healthy snacking options
Dads should take some times to prepare some healthy snacking options to keep in the fridge. This doesn’t have to be a strenuous baking effort every week either. A cut up bunch of fresh vegetables with salad leaves in a bowl works just as well in the hot weather as something to refresh and satisfy. Not enough dads do this so taking up this habit really illustrates to your kids that you care about their health. You can be creative by adding things like shredded carrot, raisins, seeds and nuts. You can also keep things like trail mix or dried fruit in jars. The end result is delicious, filling and a whole lot healthier than sugary carbs. At the same time, if you have older children, you can ask them to help while teaching them how to use sharp kitchen knives responsibly and safely. It’s a lesson they will never forget.
Author bio: Han-Son runs DaddiLife, a parenting website for dads featuring a range of tips, stories and advice from modern fatherhood and things to do, through to health and lifestyle.