September 4, 2021

Gather around the table for Family Meals Month! Fostering family meal time by preparing and eating food together can create long-lasting relationships and big benefits. Eating family dinners can lead to better and more healthful food choices. Kids who eat family dinners at home have been found to eat more fruits and vegetables and are less likely to be overweight or obese. Family dinners may also relieve stress and save money. Make this time count by disconnecting from screens and devices and focusing on connecting with family.

Get all hands on deck when it comes to preparing your meal. Give your kids age-appropriate jobs to involve them in meal planning, shopping and cooking and they will be more likely to try new foods. Here are a few general guidelines you can follow:

• 3- to 5-year-olds: Preschool age kids are ready to start helping with small tasks like adding ingredients, stirring, washing fruits and vegetables and tearing fresh herbs.

• 6- to 9-year-olds: Measure out ingredients in cups and measuring spoons, crack eggs, read through recipe and follow directions, wash and dry dishes.

• Kids 10+: Learn to use knives (cut, slice and chop), peel fruits and vegetables, supervised cooking at the stove, helping with grocery list and putting away groceries.

Check out the recipe below for a tasty Weeknight Skillet Lasagna recipe. Fruits and vegetables make great side dishes to this meal that is sure to be a family favorite.

For more family meal ideas, check out our upcoming Family Friendly Freezer Meal Class. Your Hy-Vee dietitians will hold classes throughout the month of September. These hour-long virtual events will guide you through meals, how to feed your family, and offer tips and information on how you can shop and prepare food quickly and on a budget. Go to for more information.

Weeknight Skillet Lasagna
Serves 6

All You Need:
1 (1-lb) pkg 80% lean ground beef
2 tsp Hy-Vee salt, divided
1 tsp Hy-Vee ground black pepper, divided
½ medium yellow onion, finely chopped
3 cloves minced garlic
2 tbsp Hy-Vee tomato pate
1 tbsp chopped fresh oregano
1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
2 (14-oz.) cans Gustare Vita diced tomato
2 tbsp Hy-Vee salted butter
2 tbsp Hy-Vee all-purpose flour
1 cup Hy-Vee whole milk
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
8 Hy-Vee oven-ready, no-boil lasagna noodles
2 (8-oz.) pkgs sliced Soiree fresh mozzarella cheese
1 cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves, plus additional leaves for garnish

All you do:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Cook ground beef with 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon black pepper in a large skillet over medium-high heat until browned, stirring occasionally to break into pieces. Transfer beef to a bowl using a slotted spoon. Reserve drippings in skillet.
  2. Add onion and garlic to skillet; cook over low heat for 8 to 10 minutes or until softened. Stir in tomato paste, oregano, thyme and parsley; cook and stir for 1 minute. Stir in undrained tomatoes, ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Bring to a boil; return beef to saucepan. Remove from heat; set aside.
  3. Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat; whisk in flour. Cook and whisk for 2 to 3 minutes or until thickened. Slowly whisk in milk until smooth. Add remaining ½ teaspoon salt, remaining ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Remove from heat.
  4. Break 4 lasagna noodles into large pieces and place in bottom of a deep 12-inch cast-iron skillet. Layer with half each of the meat mixture, fresh mozzarella and sauce. Top with ½ cup basil. Repeat layers with remaining lasagna noodles, meat mixture, mozzarella, sauce and ½ cup basil.
  5. Bake uncovered for 30 to 35 minutes or until noodles are tender and cheese is bubbly and beginning to brown. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with additional basil, if desired.

Recipe source: September 2021 Seasons magazine. The information is not intended as medical advice. Please consult a medical professional for individual advice.