Family meals were once a daily tradition in American households. But in recent years families, have gotten out of the habit of eating together. Researchers say that dinnertime is far from obsolete, and it’s beneficial for everyone at the table.
Reports from various sources have found that family dinner provides a number of physical, mental, emotional, and social benefits. Enjoying dinner together:
- Improves relationships between teens and their parents.
- Builds strong relationships between family members.
- Gives you a chance to fully focus on one another.
- Encourages kids to try new foods.
- Leads to healthier food choices and portion sizes.
- Decreases the likelihood that kids will develop bad eating habits, and they’re 35 percent less likely to develop an eating disorder.
- Lowers the chances of kids becoming overweight.
- Increases your kid’s vocabulary.
- Helps children and teens perform better academically.
- Reduces risk that teens will develop substance and alcohol dependencies.
- Teaches kids important conversation skills and good manners.
- Lowers risk of depression.
- Effectively relieves stress.
All families large and small can benefit from making dinner together a daily ritual. Now you just have to put your time blocking skills to work so that family meals become a priority.
Dinnertime Time Blocking Tips
Studies show that family meals are making a comeback. Nearly 60 percent of families report eating together five or more times a week, which is up from 47 percent in 1998. Becoming one of those families is easy when you time block in advance.
Time Block for Meal Planning
Meal planning can help save time throughout the week, make grocery shopping easier and ensure that there are healthy options everyone will enjoy. It’s also another activity that family members can do together.
Time Block Dinner at the Same Time Every Night
It will be much easier to gather everyone around the dinner table if the meal happens at roughly the same time every night. Take a look at your normal weekly schedule and decide the time will work best across the board.
Aim for Eating Together Five Times a Week
Eating dinner together every day may not be possible and it’s not an absolute necessity. While research from Columbia University’s National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse found that having at least five family meals a week provides maximum benefit, there are other ways to get that quality time together over a meal. If you can’t fit five dinners into everyone’s schedule plan to have breakfast, brunch or lunch together on the weekend.
Make Time for Home Cooking
People are busy these days and oftentimes, the family meal is a casualty of our busy lives. Fortunately, smart entrepreneurs are coming up with solutions by offering services that deliver groceries and pre-planned, pre-portioned recipes and food for our hectic lives. With companies like Blue Apron, Plated, and Instacart at our service, there’s no need to make a trip to the grocery store or spend time trying to figure a meal out.
Grocers like Whole Foods also have pre-prepared fresh meals that just have to be popped in the oven. What’s most important is that you spend quality time together, regardless of whether the meal was prepared at home.
Make the Dinner Table is a Device-free Zone
The benefits of family dinner come from being able to spend time fully focused on one another. Electronic devices build an invisible wall between dinner guests. When you are time blocking your family dinners, remember that this part of your schedule should be completely free of emails, texts and phone calls.
Delegate Dinnertime Tasks
Find ways for everyone to pitch in so that making dinner isn’t on the shoulders of a single family member. Even young kids can help out by setting the table, and teens make great kitchen assistants. When you time block for family meals include time before and after the meal for each person’s dinnertime tasks.
Making dinnertime your family’s ONE Thing may require reworking your schedule, but it’s time well spent. When you make eating together a priority, everyone in the family benefits.