Celebrate Family and Consumer Sciences Day with “Dine In” for Healthy Families

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The 1st Annual Family and Consumer Sciences Day is Wednesday; December 3rd this year. In observance of this day, American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences are asking families to plan a Family Meal Night. Here are some nine tips to help support plan your meal.

  1. Pre-Meal Preparation: Meal planning will help families stay healthy and save money at the store. First, check the refrigerator, freezer and cabinets to see what staples food items are already on hand.  Next, check online and the newspapers for store and company coupons, then begin to prepare the family meal plan. Transfer the meal plan onto a shopping list. Make sure to take your shopping list and coupons to the store. Also, check in-store advertisements to see if there are additional discounts.
  2. Pick a Recipe: As a family, select a quick, simple and nutritious recipe. Also, when choosing a recipe consider the health restrictions of every family member.
  3. Focus on Healthy: As the family plans the meal; use MyPlate as a guide. Focus on preparing half of the plate with fruit and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy and lean proteins. Also, limit the amount of sodium, sugar and saturated fat in the meal. Lastly, choose healthier cooking methods like baking, braising and grilling, instead of frying and sautéing with oils and saturated fat.
  4. Cooking for one or two: Cooking in bulk can help small and singular families save money and time while staying healthy. Pre-cook two or three meals and store it in small, air-tight containers. Some containers can be frozen and consumed later in the week while other containers can be left in the refrigerator ready to heat later in the day. This also provides meal variety throughout the week.
  5. Cooking for Large Families: If the family is large, prepare some food items early by precutting  fruit, vegetables and other seasonings, thaw and marinate meat in the refrigerator a few days prior to cooking. Also, divide meal planning and cooking responsibilities with family members.
  6. Dads on Duty: Research suggest that when fathers (or father figures) are actively involved with the health and nutrition-related activities with their children, children are less likely to be obese or overweight. So encourage fathers to participate in preparing the meal.
  7. Cooking with Kids: Children as young as two year of age can assist with meal planning, grocery shopping, food preparation, cooking and clean up. For example, young children can pick out fruit and vegetables, add in and mix ingredients, hand shred dark leafy greens and set the table.  Also, the older children can assist in cutting of ingredients (with appropriate knife safety procedures discussed); help to place food in and out of the oven and on the stove; check food’s internal temperature and stir food on the stove.
  8. Don’t Forget Food Safety: When preparing food for family meal night review the four food safety principle: Clean, Separate, Cook and Chill. Make sure to wash hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds when working with food. Also, make sure to keep cooked and uncooked food separate while preparing. Use an internal thermometer to cook food to the appropriate internal temperature. Don’t keep food out more than 2 hours in the “Danger Zone” between 140 – 40 degrees. Once cooked divide food into small containers and place them in the refrigerator.
  9. Make an Effort to Continue: Continue to schedule at least one time a week to have a family meal night.

Hopefully, these tips can assist in planning a fun Family Meal Night in observance of Family and Consumer Science Day and for future family meals to come.


Garden-Robinson, J. (2011). Cooking for one or two. http://www.ag.ndsu.edu/pubs/yf/foods/fn521.pdf

Hopkin, M. (2008). Cooking with kids. Morgan County USU Extension.

Hunter, J.G. & Cason, K.L. (2009). Planning meals for a family. Clemson Cooperative Extension. http://www.clemson.edu/extension/hgic/food/pdf/hgic4200.pdf

Mississippi State University-Extension Service (2012). MyPlate meal planner-EFNEP Calendar 2012-2013. http://msucares.com/pubs/forms/f0982.pdf

United States Department of Agriculture Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion. (2013). Be food safe. http://www.choosemyplate.gov/food-groups/downloads/TenTips/DGTipsheet23BeFoodSafe-BlkAndWht.pdf

United States Department of Agriculture Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion. (2011).Build a healthy meal. http://www.choosemyplate.gov/food-groups/downloads/TenTips/DGTipsheet7BuildaHealthyMeal-BlkAndWht.pdf

United States Department of Agriculture Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion. (2011).Choose MyPlate. http://www.choosemyplate.gov/food-groups/downloads/TenTips/DGTipsheet1ChooseMyPlate-BlkAndWht.pdf

United States Department of Agriculture Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion. (2013). Save more at the grocery store. http://www.choosemyplate.gov/food-groups/downloads/TenTips/DGTipsheet37SaveMoreAtTheGroceryStore-BlkAndWht.pdf

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