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In 2001, the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASA) launched Family Day – a day to eat dinner with your children. Their goal is to ignite a national movement to encourage families to sit down and break bread together.


More than a decade of research has shown that when parents and their kids eat dinner together, those kids are happier, healthier, do better in school, and are less likely to experiment with alcohol, tobacco and other drugs. Unfortunately today’s fast paced world makes this tradition more and more difficult to honor.


Thanks to extended work hours, long commutes, after school commitments, and extracurricular activities, many families just can’t seem to find the time anymore. Another, less obvious result of our sped up modern world is that meal planning and home-cooking are seemingly lost arts, as the parental and family time-crunch increases.


Here are some tips to make planning and preparing a meal for Family Day a little easier and less stressful:

  1. No time to cook? Or you just don’t have the skills? No problem!  Family Day has one major goal – to make it easier for you to have dinner with your kids. We want to make it as easy and fun as possible for you to slow down, and spend time with your family, talking and communicating. To help d-RAP meet this goal, this year, participating Colorado Wendy’s restaurants will offer a free Dave’s Hot N’ Juicy Single with the purchase of combo meal or salad on Monday, September 24, 2012 with coupon. People can download the coupon at Facebook.com/WendysColorado.
  2. Short on cash? Healthy, delicious meals don’t have to cost a fortune. Here’s a list of nutritious and tasty food from WebMD, all for around $2.00. Or visit the FDA’s choose my plate Website for their guide to healthy eating on a budget.
  3. Not sure what to make or how to get started? The world-famous Mayo Clinic provides this handy healthy meal planning guide.
  4. Are you a little rusty in the kitchen? Don’t worry about that either. Family Day isn’t about making a fancy meal. It’s about sharing a family meal. So make something easy, a childhood favorite of your own, or again, pick something up on the way home. The Family Day Website has meal planning guides and menus to help you decide what to make if you need assistance.
  5. Not sure what to talk about? Don’t feel guilty. Your kids don’t want clever conversation. They’ll be happy just to be spending the time with you. Ask them about their day. Tell them about yours. The great thing about family dinners is that kids get the benefits we were talking about before without you ever needing to actually mention drugs, alcohol or smoking. Just carving out the time to talk with your kids and really listening to them is the foundation of good parenting.


The main thing to remember about preparing for Family Day is to just do it. Few pleasures in life can match the joy of spending time and conversation with your children and loved ones. With just a little planning and a commitment to enjoyment, Family Day will be a huge success for your family and maybe even the start of a new tradition.


Bon apetit!


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