Virtually every parent faces the same big issues regarding the health and happiness of their families. While moms and dads want what is best for their children, our hectic, over-scheduled lives make it difficult to find the time, energy, and wherewithal to get it done.

This, of course, makes it all the more important for parents to make eating meals at home a priority. Just as anyone would fight for their children's safety and well being, parents need to fight for their kid's eating habits. Here are seven good reasons why.

1. Family Meals Are Not Just About Good Nutrition

A recent article in Time Magazine describes how family meals help protect the spiritual and emotional well-being of our children. In fact, there is a substantial body of evidence that links regular family meals to a lower incidence of smoking, drinking, and drug use in children. These kids suffer less from depression, eating disorders, tend to do better in school, and delay sexual activity.

2. Less Fast Food

It's hard to dispute the fact that fast food is not healthy. You just have no idea what went into making that burger so tasty or, for that matter, where it came from. Furthermore, excessive fast food consumption has been linked to obesity as well as asthma and eczema, so maybe it's time to rethink what constitutes a happy meal.

3. Time Well Spent

Family time at the table is quality time spent conversing and sharing personal details about one another's lives — getting to know each other, which you cannot put a price on.

4. A Happier Household

Families that spend quality time together tend to get along better, making for a happier environment. Plus, mealtime is a good opportunity for parents to teach kids about manners and civility, while also instilling them with good values.

5. Know What You're Eating

Convenience foods often have a list of incomprehensible ingredients, not to mention GMOs. Cooking and eating meals at home allows you to pick and choose the healthiest and most natural foods.

6. Save Money

Fast food may seem cheaper than cooking at home, but I've never found this to be the case. There always seems to be one or two more side orders that increase the cost. It all adds up in the end.

7. Slowing Down

We live hectic lives, and the one area that takes the biggest hit is quality time spent together. Eating a family meal is a great way to slow down and actually pay attention to the people you are with.

Many of us can appreciate to the value of sitting down to a nice family meal, but the pace of our lives makes it all too easy to avoid it. It doesn't take much, however, to make it happen. Just remember, as a parent and caregiver, you have the ability to set the rules. Here are seven tips to help.

Make It Simple

Meals don't have to elaborate, just healthy and balanced. Simplicity will increase the chance of it happening.

Make It Raw

Raw veggies with ranch dressing or hummus are a tasty way to get your family to eat healthy foods. Carrot sticks are tasty all by themselves.

Cool It

Foods like soup, stews, chili, and pasta can be cooked beforehand, put in the fridge, and then quickly heated up in the microwave or on the stove.

Freeze It

For long term storage, certain foods like soup or lasagna freeze well and can store for very long periods of time.

Make It Green

Salads are a quick and easy way to eat healthy, but you can vary them to make them more delicious and interesting. Add meat or cheese to make them tasty and complete.

Ground Beef It

If you eat meat, ground beef is very versatile. You can brown a large quantity and put it in fridge or freezer, then use it to spice up spaghetti sauce or add chili powder and cumin to make tacos or Sloppy Joes.

Unplug It

Quality time at the table means no ear buds, no smartphones, and no TV. Pay attention to one another, not what's going on in the world outside.

The importance of the family meal cannot be overstated — not just from a nutritional perspective, but from a social, emotional, and spiritual perspective, as well. Let's do our best ensure that the family meal remains an important part of our daily routines.

To learn more, visit the website for The Family Dinner Project.