On weeknights, is it possible to serve kid-pleasing, healthy dishes with minimal time and effort? Yes! … with help from local meal services and shortcuts.

Benefits of Family Dinner

Let’s face it. For busy parents, cooking on a weeknight can seem like a daunting task. And dinnertime, sandwiched between homework, chores [insert Scout meeting, dance class or sports practice] and bed, can become an on-the-go checklist item.

Before you beat yourself up, it’s OK. Life is busy!

But, sometimes, it’s worth the effort to eat together. Family dinners have some obvious and not-so-obvious benefits. For starters, kids who regularly eat with their families will naturally eat more healthy foods and are less-likely to struggle with obesity. Makes sense.

Yet, the power of family dinner goes beyond nutrition. As kids become teens, family dinners have been linked to less anxiety, less depression and even less substance abuse according to The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University.

The secret isn’t actually so secret. It comes down to quality time. Dinner can be a beautiful oasis in a busy evening to sit and catch up. And night after night, those little moments can make a big impact in kids’ lives.

Local Meal Services and Shortcuts

These Little Rock meal services offer effortless ways to get dinner on the table.

Healthy Chew Kitchen
This local meal preparation service offers grab-and-go, pickup and delivery options. They offer kid and family meal plans that are perfect for picky eaters.

Get in touch: 501-904-5111 | Info@HealthyChewKitchen.com
9811 W. Markham St., Little Rock

Bella’s Kitchen
Scheduled to launch this month, Bella’s Kitchen was created with busy parents in mind. You can have three delicious and nutritious toddler or kid-size meals delivered right to your door each week. Parents, all you do is heat and serve. Less time cooking means more time for cuddles.

Get in touch: Sarah@BellasKitchenUS.com

New South Produce Collective
Joining New South Produce Collective means you’re supporting a collective of local farmers. It also means that during the spring, summer and fall, your family will have easy access to the freshest local produce and cheese. Your grocery list will be that much shorter.

Get in touch: 501-615-8963 | CSA@NewSouthCoop.com
P.O. Box 2335, Little Rock

Parent Chat: Favorite Weeknight Meals

The “what to cook on a school night” struggle is real. Thanks to our readers, we curated some delicious and nutritious recommendations for those nights when the drive-thru is calling your name.

Make Ahead FTW
Three cheers for recipes that cook while you’re away!

"All things slow cooker! Barbecue shredded chicken, literally throw frozen chicken breasts in, add barbecue sauce, cook on low all day, shred it up and you're ready to serve! Same with meatballs and spaghetti sauce, just cook noodles and you're done! …  My kids love crack chicken, frozen chicken breasts, packet of ranch dressing and brick of cream cheese on low."Ashley Lyon

Leftover Know-How
Don’t let your hard work go to waste. Brainstorm ways to repurpose and reinvent leftovers.

“I do a lot of ‘clean out the fridge’ one-pot meals. Pasta with veggies, tomato sauce and cheese, vegetable curry with whatever jarred Indian curry I might have or "taco rice" which is just veggies and flavored rice mix.”Jennie Sanderson

Make Your Plan
Build your weekly menu with these rotation-worthy dishes.

“Monday we do red beans (I’m a Louisiana girl), Tuesday tacos, Wednesday leftovers, Thursday any meat and veggies.”Karen Murchison

Colorful Quesadilla Bar
We love this creative spin on our readers’ most recommended dish.

“We line up diced green/red/yellow/orange bell peppers, Mexican blend cheese, diced tomatoes, diced purple onions and grilled chicken strips. Getting our daughter involved in picking the ingredients by the colors of each one and making her OWN food has worked wonders. She inevitably wants every color ingredient so it makes her try it."Robert Fisher

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2020 Ultimate All-School Guide