Each September, we celebrate National Family Meals Month. It’s a time to highlight the importance of family meals and encourage families to embrace a regular mealtime routine. There are many reasons why families miss out on family meals, including conflicting schedules and different tastes. And maybe even because the home chef needs more meal ideas.
This year, I reached out to my colleagues for help. Together we gathered a list of books, recommended by nutrition experts, to encourage more family meals in your home. These books are helpful for children of all different ages. They cover a variety of topics including support for particular eaters, feeding young athletes, and meal prep and recipe ideas.
Making Family Meals Happen
We could all use a hand when it comes to gathering the family around the table for a nutritious meal. My colleagues were quick to highlight these three favorites:
- Dinnertime Survival Guide by Sally Kuzemchak, MS, RD
- The Mom’s Guide to Meal Makeovers by Janice Bissex, MS, RD & Liz Weiss MS, RD
- Dinner, Done! by Jen Haugen, RDN, LD
Written by nutrition experts, these books help families boost the nutritional quality of their meals. They also offer strategies for making it easier on the home chef (who wouldn’t want that?!).
Raising Healthy Eaters
If there is one name that’s synonymous with raising healthy eaters, it’s Ellyn Satter. My colleagues unanimously selected two of her books as “must haves” for families:
- Secrets of Feeding a Healthy Family: How to Eat, How to Raise Good Eaters, How to Cook
- Child of Mine: Feeding with Love and Good Sense
Satter’s nurturing approach to feeding helps develop a safe and healthy relationship with food. Her guidance is also invaluable to parents managing feeding challenges.
Adding More Fruits and Veggies
One of those challenges that may arise is helping your children consume more fruits and vegetables. We want children to recognize and embrace a variety of produce. But sometimes we need help along the way. Dietitians recommend Deceptively Delicious: Simple Secrets to Get Your Kids Eating Good Food by Jessica Seinfeld, as a good resource. In her book, Seinfeld collaborates with a nutritionist and a personal chef, “to offer a month’s worth of recipes with unexpected ingredients to increase your child’s intake of fruits and vegetables.”
Don’t Yuck My Yum!
Children have fears about trying something new and different. They also worry about what other children will think of their food choices. To lessen this apprehension, my colleagues rely on books that teach kids to have compassion for others’ tastes and preferences. Two favorites are I Really Like Slop by Mo Willems and Daniel Tries a New Food by Becky Friedman. These supportive books share important lessons about inclusivity at mealtime.
Feeding Young Athletes
Parents of young athletes know that balancing meals and snacks throughout a packed day is a challenge. And it’s no secret that the exceptional needs of active, growing children require a unique approach. To ensure it’s done right, nutrition experts recommend Eat Like a Champion by Jill Castle, MS, RDN. Additionally, my colleagues agree that sports nutrition guidance would be incomplete without Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook by Nancy Clark, MS, RD.
Raising Adventurous Eaters
If we want our children to become healthy eaters, we need to make it fun and enjoyable. This is why my colleagues recommend Kid Food Explorers. Created by Dani Lebovitz, RD, this online store is a collection of “children’s books and STEAM activities that invite kids to experience new foods and explore their taste buds through play-based learning.”