Food Sense and Nutrition

Helping you Treasure your Family

Sometimes families get lost in all the chaos surrounding everyday life. We often let our health and well-being slide. Here are some ideas for building family health, quality time, and traditions and doing it together. It’s not what, but how you feed your family...

 It doesn’t have to be fancy to be healthy!
Healthy food doesn’t need to be expensive or difficult to make. Tacos, a salad and frozen yogurt can be just as healthy for your family as something fancy.

Start slow, learn as you go.
Don’t try to go from no meals to nightly meals. Start with a couple meals together weekly. Find what works for your family and go from there.

Talking Stick
If everyone in your family talks at once, take a tip from the Winnetka alliance for Early Childhood. They suggest borrowing the talking stick idea from the American Indians. They only allow the person holding the stick to talk. You might have a talking cup or other special item that gets passed from person to person, giving each the opportunity to speak.
Turn off the T.V.

Encourage family members to star in their own lives and relate to each other rather than to some image on the TV screen. If there is an absolutely must see show that occurs during dinnertime, tape it for later.

Don’t answer the phone or cell phone during mealtime.
How often are your meals interrupted by the phone? If you can’t stand to ignore it, unplug it or turn it off.

Get children and spouses involved in making meals.
Family members tend to eat better if they help prepare it. Plan, prepare and freeze meals ahead for busy evenings ahead. Take this time to listen to your family and what they have to say.

Table talk tips

Share positive things that have happened during the day. One family had a mealtime ritual in which everyone, including Mom and Dad, told one new thing they learned that day. Some families have a night where there’s an assigned table topic.

  • Describe something that happened recently that made you feel happy.
  • Someone gave you 1,000 dollars, you have to spend some of it on your family before you can buy anything for yourself. What would you buy for everyone?
  • If you could live in a different time and place, where and when would you want to live? Why?
  • If you could spend an afternoon with a famous person living or dead who would it be and why? What would you do?

Some food for thought: if your family’s’ life is being lived in fast forward, maybe it’s time to hit the stop or pause button or a few meals a week.


Fun Family projects

Family Cookbook

1.       Write to members of your extended family, asking them to participate in a family cookbook. To each of them send a few recipe cards.

2.       Ask them to write their favorite recipe on the card.

3.       As the recipe come in, enjoy making each recipe with members of your immediate family

4.       Take a picture of the food before you eat it. Put the picture of the food, the note card and the recipe in a notebook in sheet protectors or photo album. You can even add pictures of the family member.

5.       Decide how you are going to distribute the book. Look at the strengths of your family and see if some one could design the cook book and use the computer to input all the information on the computer. You might have a contest to create a book cover design.

6.       Check with local copy stores or printers to see how you can reproduce the cookbook for the best price.

7.       Family members may preorder books so you will know how many copies to make. Share the family cookbook at a reunion or holiday. 

Family Place Mats  

Making and using special place mats will remind each person of their talents and special traits.

Supplies needed: a 14" by 22" piece of poster board (half a standard poster board) for each person, colored markers, colored pencils and crayons. Scissors, magazines and newspapers that show pictures or activities or interests that your families have, any personal items that your families have that show their interests, clear contact paper or access to laminating machine, glue.

1.       Make a place mat for mealtimes. Both sides of the place mat will be decorated with a collage. One side will represent “these are the things I like” done with drawings, pictures and sayings.

2.       The other side will represent “what makes me who I am” this side also will be decorated with a collage using the same techniques.

3.       After both sides are decorated, the place mat needs to be covered with clear contact paper or laminated.

4.       Use the place mats at least once a week. Talk about what is on the place mat.

5.       Make new ones every year and see how the family has changed. 


Source: Family Treasures, University of Nebraska, Lincoln Extension