Families that eat together are healthier and happier. If it seems like a difficult task to get your family to sit down for a meal together, studies show that it's worth the effort.

Simply by sitting down together as a family for breakfast, lunch or dinner, four or more times per week, you reduce your child's risk of obesity, eating disorders and risky behaviors such as underage drinking and smoking. The opportunity for meaningful conversation around the table can increase a child's vocabulary, self-esteem and even improve their grades.

In fact, kids who eat family meals most often are 40 percent more likely to get mainly A's and B's in school than kids who have two or fewer family meals per week.

September is Family Meals Month. The goal of this month is to encourage families to add one or more home-cooked meals to their weekly routines.

As a full-time working mom of a toddler, I know how difficult it can be to find the time and energy for a home-cooked meal each night. I have mastered the art of one-arm cooking while holding my curious son. As he grows up, I want him to know that healthy eating should always be a priority, rather than something that is sacrificed due to busy schedules.

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Family meals don't have to be complicated. Use your slow cooker. Make double and freeze some for later. Follow a schedule such as Meatless Monday, Tacos on Tuesday, Spaghetti Wednesday, etc. Let your child decide what the family eats once a week.

Most Americans decide what they're going to eat for dinner less than one hour prior to eating. Try not to do this. Plan your meals ahead of time, and reap the benefits of home-cooked, nutritious meals that your family can enjoy together.