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From toddlers to teenagers, sitting down to eat together has so many benefits for the whole family.

Younger children start to learn table manners and social skills, and if they’re not eating ‘grown-up’ food yet, it’s a great opportunity to let them try little tastes and to teach them to enjoy healthy types of food. Older children and teenagers still need family time (and more nutrients than ever), and they’ll love the chance to sit down talk about their day. Here’s how to achieve healthy evening meals with the whole family.

Get the kids involved in creating healthy dinner options

Even the youngest kids can help with getting dinner ready – they can tear up herbs with their hands or decide on the seating plan. You can also take a look at our guide to cooking with children. Older children can lay the table, and teenagers can help with chopping and preparing vegetables. It’s a great way to start teaching them how to cook for themselves.

Staying healthy beyond eating: introducing screen downtime

Healthy dinner ideas go beyond food. Dinner time provides a natural break from the screens that dominate our lives, letting us rest our eyes and connect with the people around us. If you struggle to pry everyone away from their electronic devices, here’s a good compromise: allow phones at the table, but the rule is that they’re only to be used to spark conversation. So, sharing photos or looking up interesting facts are ok – but noses buried in phones for the whole of dinner aren’t allowed.

In need of a quick, healthy dinner?

As much as we’d like to, we don’t always have time for long, healthy evening meals. Luckily, there are some quick, healthy dinner options among our recipes. How about a delicious Thai red curry, or a refreshing avocado and quinoa salad? These recipes are quick and easy to make, and they can be eaten out of a bowl when we have to crack on with work or have come home from practice and are starving.

How to get in the mood for healthy meals for dinner

If you’re famished when you come home, it’s all too easy to reach for a frozen pizza or order some junk food for delivery. A way of disrupting this habit is to have some healthy snacks within reach, like a handful of nuts, while you plan dinner. What’s even better is to plan dinners for every night the week before, then do your shopping based on that. This way, you’ll know exactly what’s for dinner and you get rid of the moment of deliberation. Before you know it, you’ll have a gorgeous, healthy, home-cooked meal on the table.

We hope we’ve inspired you with ideas for healthy dinners to eat when you’re stressed, hungry and looking after a family. Make a habit of having healthy evening meals to wind down after a long day and fill up on nutrients. And remember: healthy habits are easier to keep if you don’t think of them as healthy but as something you enjoy.