11 healthy family food habits to embrace in 2015

This list originally started as a few notes scratched in a notebook I keep in my bedside table. Reminders. Little practices that I occasionally forget about, yet want to continue because I know they have a long-lasting positive impact on my family.

It wasn’t until a few days later, standing at the sink up to my elbows in dishes and spacing out the window at the falling snow, when I realized that you might want a similar nudge. The new year is a popular reset time for many reasons, and while I am not going on a diet or pledging any massive goals, I am taking a look at how I can improve our family food culture and strengthen healthy food habits.

I think that you are all doing a bang-up job around the family table, but perhaps in reading, you will find there are one or two practices you could adopt.

family dinner

“The shared meal is no small thing. It is a foundation of family life,
the place where our children learn the art of conversation and acquire
the habits of civilization: sharing, listening, taking turns, navigating
differences, arguing without offending.”
― Michael Pollan, Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation

11 healthy family food habits to embrace in 2015

These aren’t resolutions, or even goals, they are small steps to introduce positive change in your family food life. As always, start small and don’t attempt the impossible.

1. Waste less. This one is first for a reason: wasted food makes me squirm. Cook less, if needed. Reduce portion sizes. Freeze or repurpose leftovers. Store foods correctly to avoid waste. Talk with your children about global hunger; specific projects like The Lunchbox Fund are a good starting point.

2. Plan more. Part of wasting less is making a menu plan and buying only what you need. Perhaps it’s time to implement one. I follow a loose Monday – Friday plan that I pencil out on Saturday or Sunday. You’ll find what works for you and discover that both sanity and money are saved in the process.

3. Review food values. Is eating local and in season important to you? Why? How could you improve your food sustainability as a family? I joined a winter CSA so that the majority of our produce from November to May is grown nearby (in rooftop greenhouses) and travels only a few short miles to our table.

Mateo cheese-1

4.Trust more. Delegating kitchen tasks to children gets easier the more you learn to let go. Give them an opportunity to shine this year. The benefits are many.

5. Stress less. Are your children only eating meat? Refusing meat? Scarfing breakfast but only picking at dinner? These are normal patterns, from what I have experienced. Guess what?  They will be fine if they don’t get 3 square meals a day, so let it go this year. However, don’t skip #6.

6. Snack healthily. This is how we mums make up for skipped or shunned meals. Here are 18 healthy snacks, better for you and better for your wallet.

7. Open your home. Embrace hospitality more this year. Let your children see you welcome others around your table and learn how to be a gracious host. While you’re at it, make a few meals for others.

8. Plan a date night. The centre of a healthy family are parents that connect regularly with each other. ‘Date nights in’ are not something Danny and I have done regularly in the past, but I will be initiating more, beginning with two a month. Doable? Most certainly. Anticipated? Definitely.

A birthday party mingle for Clara and Mateo | Simple Bites #birthdaycake #birthdayparty #kids #cake

9. Practice Balance. Moderation is a foreign concept to children yet never has it been more important to learn. Don’t deprive them of treats entirely, but lead by example to demonstrate that a little goes a long way.

10. Host Sunday dinner. My upcoming cookbook has an entire chapter dedicated to Sunday dinners, a practice I have embraced since this post two years ago. It’s the best meal of the week where we slow down and savour, both the food and each others company.

11. Encourage conversation. Connecting with one another around the table is why we gather as a family. Listen. Ask questions. Talk about stuff that matters and show the children you are truly interested.

What is one healthy food habit you plan to adopt this year?

About Aimee

Cooking has always been Aimée's preferred recreational activity, creative outlet, and source of relaxation. After nearly ten years in the professional cooking industry, she went from restaurant to RSS by trading her tongs and clogs for cookie cutters and a laptop, serving as editor here at Simple Bites. Her first book, Brown Eggs and Jam Jars - Family Recipes from the Kitchen of Simple Bites, was published in February 2015.

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  1. I could use ALL these food habits in 2015. I love this personal list, Aimee. Definitely helps with accountability! Hope you’re able to embrace all these in 2015 – yay!

  2. I love these Aimee. I think we have a lot to talk about as we go into 2015, and I am excited to get my children involved in the health of our family.

  3. I plan on making up a weekly menu and making sure I have all the ingredients needed. I do think it is important to have a family meal and converse. I love that idea. You’ll chuckle at this — the picture of your son putting cheese on the pasta — mt first thought was my he has a healthy appetite. That would have been some feat if he would have been able to eat all of it 🙂

  4. Love these, Aimee! My personal fave: opening up our home to guests. With my youngest now 2 yrs old, it’s time to start having dinner parties again! Happy New Year!

  5. Love this! I’m a big fan of voluntarily slowing down and enjoying more slow foods (like Michael Pollan’s book). We all need more of this in our lives! Thanks for sharing these little nudges 😉

  6. I gotta say the maintaining Sunday dinners is my favorite. It’s hard to keep up, but it makes a lovely anchor in the week that really helps with the menu planning. A nice reminder to make a habit Sunday meals- thanks!

    • Totally agree, Steven. January is one of our best months for Sunday dinner, as there is little else going on and it’s so cold we just want to stay in. 😉

  7. Love your list! I have been toying with the idea of practicing hospitality, what does it look like? What needs to be present for people to feel welcome and wanted in our home?
    I’m going to run with your idea of Sunday dinner for 2015 so please keep those Sunday menus coming.

    Thank you.

  8. Such a great list! There are several here that we need to be better at as a family. Thanks for sharing!

  9. of course I love this!!! Wonderful summary of good family eating values 🙂

  10. Love this list and your heart that shines through it. We try to practice many if these but I’m thankful for the inspiration and encouragement to do more. I know date nights in and better table conversation are areas we could work on. Plus this year I’m really excited to start a weekly dinner for any and all friends and family who can come. It will be a simple meal without much fanfare but it will also be so refreshing and exciting to see different people I love and want to know more all gathered at the same time. Here’s hoping others agree! 😉

  11. Demonstrating thanks – slowing down enough to say grace/give thanks before eating. A round-table approach works great with kids – what’s one thing you’re thankful for today?

    • Lisa, we could do this daily. My kids frequently dwell on their ‘problems’ and it only takes a few thankful reminders to pull them out of it.

  12. Fabulous tips A Happy Aimee!! Happy new year 🙂

  13. The one thing that I did when my kids were still at home was to eat the evening meals together. As soon as they were old enough, they fixed their own breakfast and lunch was hit or miss. However, they were expected to be home for the evening meal unless they had a very good reason (and only occasionally). I was raised to eat meals together, so it never occurred to me to do it differently. I cooked, mostly from scratch, because with 6 kids I couldn’t afford not to. As the kids got older, they each took a turn planning and (mostly) preparing the meal on a regular basis. They looked forward to it because they could fix what they particularly liked. My youngest is 30, and they all know how to plan, shop for and cook basic meals, and tell me they are glad they do.

  14. What a great reminder, Aimee! We’re smack in the middle of some crazy toddler eating habits that have me stymied most meal-times, but creating some of these other positive structures around food will help me feel like I’m doing some of the right things, my daughter’s pasta jag notwithstanding!

  15. What a fantastic list of food habits for the new year. Like you, we do Sunday supper with our entire extended family every week and my kids have learned so much about hosting others for a simple meal. So glad to see you’re putting date nights on your list of things to accomplish – we’ve been doing it for years and now we all look forward to Wednesday nights.

  16. Great tips! I think these are good tips for any-sized family too, my husband and I don’t have children but we can always implement some of these. We often don’t eat dinner at the table together and it’s something I’d love to start doing..and date night is always good! Thanks for sharing!

  17. Love this, Aimee… I have tried to do a lot of this, but this list was a great reminder and a nudge to get back on track with a few things!

    PS… I’m headed directly over to that list of healthy snacks right now. Thank you 🙂

  18. Thanks for all these wonderful reminders. I needed that. I feel like I have good intentions, but then… life happens. So it’s good to be reminded of the small efforts that can have big benefits.

  19. Fabulous tips!

  20. I want to host more Sunday dinners with friends, this year! Lovely list, Aimee! Happy New Year 🙂

  21. Happy New Year, Aimee!

    Great post. I love how date night was included – such an important one! I will definitely keep these in mind!


  22. Beautiful post and a beautiful family also 😉
    All the best for the New Year and your book launch 🙂

  23. Oh Aimee, I think it is so important to emphasize all of these rules. What a great list you’ve put together. Family meals are one of the best memory makers around.

  24. Aimee! Merci! J’adore ton blog. Sharing this post with my readers- love it.

  25. These are lovely ideas! Happy New Year!

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