It’s the end of a long day at work, you’ve got little ones griping about rumbling tummies and your other half has only just got in. It’s no surprise then that eating dinner at the table as a family unit is falling out of favour. And that’s before we even mention the word healthy. 

Research shows that there are many health benefits for families in regularly sharing meal times. Dinner is possibly the only time of day to reconnect with each other as a family, giving you a moment to leave individual responsibilities behind and recharge your batteries over a home cooked meal.

We’ve combined forces with Heart Research UK to encourage more households to eat together at the table, in a bid for happier hearts. And to help those hearts stay healthy, ITV’s Lorraine Show resident chef, Sally Bee, has whipped us up some heart-loving, healthy recipes that are easy enough for the whole family to get involved in.

Download our 7 day meal plan recipes here:

Meat-free Monday: Roasted Veggie Frittata

Tuesday: Chicken Cacciatore

Wednesday: Chilli, Pork and Bean Stew

Thursday: Healthy Chicken Korma with Pineapple Salsa

Fish Friday: Butternut Squash and Prawn Rogan Josh 

Saturday: Pizza Parlour

Sunday: Lamb Hotpot with Celeriac and Potato

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Why you should eat together at the table:

1. Control portions and waistlines

Turning off distractions like the TV, phones and tablets at the dinner table could help you to focus on your portion size and how quickly you eat. Mindful eating is a great way to tune in to your body’s natural fullness, preventing you from overeating.

2. Control what’s on offer

Ditch the ‘TV dinner’. Ready meals and takeaways are often high in fat, salt and sugar which can negatively impact heart health. Planning out your meals carefully is a good way of incentivising you to prepare delicious healthy meals from scratch.

3. Eat your 5-a-day

Children are natural copy-cats, and evidence suggests that those who eat with their families are most likely to eat their vegetables. Having regular Meat Free Mondays is an easy way to up the veggie content at family mealtimes, and may also save you money on food bills. Sally Bee’s Roasted Veggie Frittatas are heaving with healthy goodness and make a great alternative to lack-lustre boiled veg.

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4. Develop skills for life

Give everyone a role in the food shopping and preparation before it reaches the dining table. This will set little ones up with useful life skills and involving them from the start can reignite their interest with food. The healthy Pizza Parlour recipes will be a favourite with little ones and their friends, making it a perfect choice for when you want to give them a task that encourages learning.

5. Learn healthy behaviours

Simply said, eating at the table gives some stability and routine. Family mealtimes help to build a healthy relationship with food which can even make teens less likely to fall into risky habits.

6. Nurture happy minds

Catching up on the day’s up and downs at meal times creates a nurturing environment, boosting social skills, intellect, self-esteem and the ability to manage stress. Remember, happy minds lead to happy hearts. A big bowl of Sally’s Chilli, Pork and Bean Stew is the perfect meal for everyone to tuck into, and it will get the conversation flowing.

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So, with the help of Heart Research UK and Sally Bee, hopefully your own interest in family mealtimes will be re-ignited, and some cooking inspiration sparked. And since it's the perfect month to begin a new health kick, it’s time to say goodbye to eating bland salads whilst your youngsters eat something different, and instead sit at the dinner table as a whole. We’ve even included some handy activities and quiz printouts, which will keep the little ones occupied whilst you enjoy some grown up time.

For further information about #TogetherattheTable, browse the campaign page where you will find all the information you need to start having regular family meals. If you want to know a little more about keeping your heart a healthy one, head over to the experts at Heart Research UK.

If you’re planning on trying out our meal plan, flaunt your culinary delights by tweeting or instagramming your picture using the hashtag  #TogetherattheTable.