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I totally get it. Whether you’re a family of two or twenty-two, it’s not easy making family dinners happen. But getting everyone to the dinner table at the same time even a few times a week is a great idea. Some reasons might surprise you.
One of the more simple reasons is that being together for dinner helps families stay connected. When families are together with phones set aside and TVs turned off, conversations emerge that help us understand what’s happening in each other’s lives. Even without profound conversation, time around the dinner table builds family bonds and sends the message that family is important.
Saving money is another reason. When families eat dinner separately, it usually means some or all of us are eating out. And eating out is more expensive than a eating at home. A family of four can easily spend thirty dollars or more even at a fast food restaurant. In contrast, a simple dinner at home costs half that, or less. As an example, the My Street Grocery Brazilian Black Beans and Sausage Meal Kit is only $12 and makes 4-6 hearty portions. Take the savings and put it aside for a family vacation. The dollars will add up fast.
Eating out not only costs more but it can also discourage eating different varieties of foods. Introducing variety is important because it’s often healthier, and because it encourages kids and adults alike to explore the world around them. Kids in particular sometimes need a little nudging to experiment beyond chicken strips and cheeseburgers. They’ll grow up to be more interesting people if they learn to try new things. Experimenting with new and different foods is a great place to start.
Building Family Memories
I have fond memories of certain family recipes while growing up. Cheese enchiladas, Swiss steak, and lasagna are all comfort foods that I enjoyed at the family dinner table. Even if they don’t know it now, kids in particular will appreciate family favorites later in life. When they come home from college they’ll be asking for their favorite dinners that remind them of loved ones and of simpler times.
Staying in Control
When preparing dinner at home for the family, you control the ingredients. This helps makes for a healthier meal. Even seemingly innocent restaurant meals can be loaded with surprise and less-healthy ingredients. I once asked a chef friend of mine how he makes his scrambled eggs so delicious. His reply was “Butter, lots of butter.” Even a simple breakfast of scrambled eggs away from home can contain more fat than you thought possible. I walked by an open kitchen at a local restaurant once to see the chef painting loads of butter on top of a grilled steak with a brush. Even simple foods can have unexpected (and not-so-healthy) ingredients. Going out to eat is great fun and I encourage it. But with a family dinner at home it’s likely you’re eating fewer calories and healthier ingredients.
Give it a Try
Bringing the family together at home for dinner is a great way to stay connected, save money, and add variety to our diets and our lives. It also creates fond memories of favorite family recipes. Finally, when you prepare dinner at home, you control the ingredients. Most often this results in a healthier meal. With a bit of effort, even the busiest families can get everyone at the dinner table at the same time a few nights a week. Give it a try…You’ll be glad you did.