How often does your family have dinner together? Every night? A few times a week? For many families nowadays, the answer might be, “Not very often.”
It’s understandable. Modern families are busy. Both parents may work and get home at different times. In my family, we have had to get creative because my husband works at night, during the traditional dinner hour. Children have activities to go to, and Mom’s got to drive them all over the place. Really, who’s got the time and energy to prepare a meal every single night?
You, that’s who! Eating together is good for you and your family. So you need to make time and summon the energy to make home-cooked meals and sit down and eat together more often.
Researchers have found many benefits to home-cooked meals. Watch this video to learn about some of them. In my own experience, though, there are many more. Here are 24 reasons I have found to share family meals more often:
1. Families who eat together eat healthier, because homemade meals are healthier than fast food.
2. Family meals allow busy families to catch up with each other.
3. Young children learn a lot of verbal skills just by eating with their family members. Since parents model the behavior their children will learn, use this time to model those verbal skills and TALK!
4. It gives everyone a chance to unwind after a busy day. Even kids need to take a time out and decompress. Make the dinner hour a stress free place to be.
5. Having family meals more often forces you to end your working day and other obligations in time for dinner. This is a biggie for me since I work from home and could work through dinner if I didn’t have 3 little faces to look forward to each night at the dinner table.
6. Home cooked meals are cheaper than takeout food or eating out.
7. Eating together encourages everybody to tell stories.
8. Cooking at home motivates you to be creative with your meal planning and cooking.
9. Children can get involved in cooking meals. This provides them with necessary skills and it helps mom.
10. Preparing food and eating together creates happy childhood memories.
11. Eating together is an opportunity to explore different cuisines and different cultures.
12. Eating with your family is more fun than eating in front of the television (or the computer).
13. Eating together gives parents a chance to talk about current events from their point of view, injecting their personal values without giving a lecture.
14. Eating together helps family members bond and get to know each other better.
15. You’ll be surprised what your kids reveal when you’re in a relaxed environment, such as a family meal.
16. Kids are less likely to roll their eyes when you reminisce and tell stories from your childhood while eating a meal together.
17. Family meals can be good teaching moments, even for small children.
18. Eating together is a good opportunity to model good manners.
19. Family meals give a good transition from work or school to home life.
20. Family meals are also good times to share music together!! We LOVE to incorporate music and food in our house. If you are eating Italian then let your kids choose a couple Italian songs from iTunes and create your own mood music.
21. Family meals teach everyone valuable life skills, such as how to interact with other people in social situations.
22. Stopping and sitting down to a meal gives everyone a chance to quiet down and regroup. It can also be a starting point for even more meaningful family time if you pull a board game to play afterwards.
23. If you are religious, family meals provide an additional occasion for family members to pray together and discuss your faith. I am agnostic but we often discuss religion at the dinner table too.
24. Eating home is more eco-friendly than eating out or ordering food – less waste!
If you think having family meals is too much work, don’t despair. You can get help for everything from meal planning to putting your weekly grocery shopping list together. Check out Dine Without Whine for kid-tested, quick recipes that will help you put together family meals with less effort. Dine Without Whine’s weekly shopping lists will also help you get food shopping done much faster, and even save money on groceries.
As you can see from the list above, the extra time and effort you spend to have family meals more often are worthwhile.