How often does your family have dinner together? If you’re like most families nowadays, the answer is probably, “Not very often.”
It’s understandable. Modern families are busy. Sometimes both parents work and sometimes get home at different times. But even if you’re home during the day it’s still hard to find energy to cook every night, or even work out the logistics of when dinner is going to get made and consumed! Children have activities to go to, and Mom’s got to drive them all over the place. Who’s got the time and energy to even cook dinner every single night?
I know it’s tough, but few things in parenting are more important. Eating together is good for you and your family. Inside jokes, laughter, and deep discussions flow from dinner times. Family devotions and family games nights naturally follow. You build the family identity. So you better make time and find 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 home-cooked food is 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.
4. It gives everyone a chance to unwind after a busy day.
5. Having family meals more often forces you to end your working day and other obligations in time for dinner.
6. Home cooked meals are not only healthier, they’re also cheaper than takeout food or eating out.
7. Eating together forces everybody to tell stories. And even if your 7-year-old son punctuates those stories with fart jokes, at least he’s learning how to communicate!
8. Cooking at home motivates you to be creative with your meal planning and cooking.
9. Children can get involved in cooking meals. We decided to teach the kids to cook one meal a year after age 10. So at 11 they can make one thing, at 12 they can make two things, and by the time they leave home they have a meal for every day of the week–plus company!
10. Cooking and eating together creates happy childhood memories.
11. Eating together is an opportunity to explore different cuisines.
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. My toddler learned how to count by counting after-meal treats on his high chair.
18. Eating together is a good opportunity to teach and 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.
21. Family meals teach everyone valuable life skills, such as sharing and taking turns.
22. Stopping and sitting down to a meal gives everyone a chance to quiet down and regroup.
23. Family meals provide an additional occasion for family members to pray together.
24. Eating home produces less waste than eating out or ordering food–all while it costs far less, too!
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.
I know it takes time. But it really is worth it to cook dinner for your family! I’m always amazed at how many memories revolve around food. So go cook and make some memories!
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