The scenario is similar in most homes: You’re juggling work, kids, extracurricular activities, events, laundry, grocery shopping, walking the dog and other to-do’s on a never-ending list. But somewhere in the last few decades, one of the most important items on the list has fallen to the wayside: family dinner.
Only 30 percent of American families share dinner every night, according to a 2013 Harris poll. We get it—it can seem daunting. “I’m too busy to make dinner every night.” “I’m a horrible cook.” “My kids are picky eaters.” The list of reasons goes on, with the idea that family dinners are an unrealistic goal, reserved for those who have endless time, money and privilege.
But guess what? It’s not true! Family dinners can become a habit and we’re going to show you how all month long. In celebration of National Family Meals Month—which aims to bring families back to the table for one more meal at home per week—we’re running a special series of tips and recipe suggestions to make family meals easy, accessible and engaging.
Welcome to The Dinner Habit
This is a mantra we live and breathe ourselves at Tessemae’s. Every night, no matter what chaos we’re living in, my family sits down to eat dinner together. Sure, it started out as an excuse to eat good food and engage with my four young kids, but it’s since turned into a tradition that aligns with the core mission of Tessemae’s: create real, better-for-you foods that build community around the dinner table. We’re all about the nourished life, from the foods we eat to the people we share it with.
But how large of an impact can dinner really make? In a nutshell—a lot. Study after study shows that children and teenagers who participated in family meals were more likely to excel in school, develop better relationships with parents, exhibit positive behaviors like sharing and fairness, maintain healthy weight, and are at lower risk of using drugs, drinking or smoking. The numbers go on, but the takeaway is the same: Having dinner together as a family is one of the most significant building blocks for positive change and creating a healthier generation.
How to Make It Happen
When those nagging thoughts creep in—not enough time, no cooking skills, you name it—just remember that there’s no wrong way to start. You don’t have to cook Top Chef-caliber meals or attempt recipes with dozens of hard-to-pronounce ingredients. Start small, start simple and even if that means the menu is pre-prepared items, the idea is to get back to the table, eat together and engage with your loved ones. Small effort creates big impact.
With the start of the school year, there’s no better time to take a seat at the table. We’re getting back into our routines, nourishing both our bodies and brains, learning more about what’s going on in each other’s lives now that work and school is in full swing, and of course, digging into delicious, satisfying meals while doing it.
Join us in pledging one more family meal each week—and stay tuned for our ideas, recipes and more to help make it happen. When in doubt, just remember our clean, healthy, back-to-basics philosophy at Tessemae’s: Simplify food so you can amplify life.
And if you’re hungry for more, check out my TED Talk, “The Dinner Habit: The Recipe for Change" where I dig into the staggering statistics, share how my working parents made dinner happen when I was a kid and reveal why the skills used in preparing meals together double as life’s biggest lessons: