Gather around the table for Family Meals Month

Hy-Vee dietitian Andrea Miller shares the importance of making time for a meal with your loved ones.
Updated: Sep. 19, 2021 at 5:00 AM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - September is National Family Meals Month. Experts say fostering family meal time by preparing and eating food together can create long-lasting relationships.

Hy-Vee registered dietitian Andrea Miller says there are major benefits to sitting down as a family for a meal.

“The simple act of getting together, eating together, even preparing and planning the meal together, that within itself can have huge positive impacts on our relationship with food and how we view food,” said Miller. “Overall, it can actually contribute to our health.

Hy-Vee research has found that kids who eat family dinners at home have been found to eat more fruits and vegetables and are less likely to be overweight or obese. Teens who eat regular family meals are more likely to be emotionally strong, have better mental health, manners and communications skills.

Miller says there are some tricks in the kitchen you can use to get the whole family involved in the meal-making process.

“I always like to talk about recipe helpers because any time you can lower the stress and the time involved in prep, the better,” said Miller.

She recommends giving kids age-appropriate jobs to involve them in meal planning, shopping and cooking and to think of the whole process as part of the “meal”.

Things like adding ingredients, washing vegetables, or stirring are great for preschool age kids. Older children 10 and under can help by measuring out ingredients, cracking eggs, and reading through recipe.

Young adults can learn to use knives, peel fruits and vegetables, supervised cooking at the stove, helping with grocery list and putting away groceries.

Weeknight Italian Lasagna Skillet

  • 1 (1-lb) pkg 90% lean ground beef
  • 2 tsp Hy-Vee salt, divided
  • 1 tsp Hy-Vee ground black pepper, divided
  • ½ medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp Hy-Vee tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley or, 1 tbsp dried Italian herb mix
  • 2 (14-oz.) cans Gustare Vita diced tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp Hy-Vee salted butter
  • 2 tbsp Hy-Vee all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup Hy-Vee whole milk
  • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 8 Hy-Vee oven-ready, no-boil lasagna noodles
  • 2 (8-oz.) pkgs sliced Soiree fresh mozzarella cheese (use pearls, if you can’t find sliced, or slice a whole ball in advance)
  • 1 cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves, chopped or torn, plus additional leaves for garnish
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Cook ground beef with 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon black pepper in a large skillet over medium-high heat until browned, stirring occasionally to break into pieces. Transfer beef to a bowl using a slotted spoon. Reserve drippings in skillet.
  2. Add onion and garlic to skillet; cook over low heat for 8 to 10 minutes or until softened. Stir in tomato paste, oregano, thyme and parsley; cook and stir for 1 minute. Stir in undrained tomatoes, ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Bring to a boil; return beef to saucepan. Remove from heat; set aside.
  3. Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat; whisk in flour. Cook and whisk for 2 to 3 minutes or until thickened. Slowly whisk in milk until smooth. Add remaining ½ teaspoon salt, remaining ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Remove from heat.
  4. Break 4 lasagna noodles into large pieces and place in bottom of a deep 12-inch cast-iron skillet. Layer with half each of the meat mixture, fresh mozzarella and sauce. Top with ½ cup basil. Repeat layers with remaining lasagna noodles meat mixture, mozzarella, sauce and ½ cup basil.
  5. Bake uncovered for 30 to 25 minutes or until noodles are tender and cheese is bubbly and beginning to brown. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with additional basil, if desired.

For other Hy-Vee recipe suggestions, click HERE.

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