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Dine Without Whine - A Family 

Friendly Weekly Menu Plan
10 Great Reasons to Eat Dinner as a Family

I have my meals planned this week. But rather than posting my plan (it's just pasta Monday, fish Tuesday, meatless on Wednesday, frozen leftovers on Thursday), I thought I'd post my rationale for eating together.
When I was out walking recently, my daughter Katie said to me, "You know what I like about our family, Mommy? We eat together."

It's such a little thing, but when the girls have friends over, it's amazing how many confess that it's a new experience for them. Most people eat in front of the TV, or they grab dinner on the run.

And that's not good. It's over food that we connect, talk, share, and bond.

But I know meal planning takes time, especially when everyone has busy schedules. But it is more important for your family to eat dinner together at least 3 times a week than it is for your kids to all be in soccer, or to all be on the baseball team. Family trumps sports. It really does. As adults, kids will remember sitting with family and the relationships that grew from that far more than they will anything else.
If you don't have time to eat dinner together, you're doing something wrong. You have to change your schedule. No ifs, ands, or buts. And if you don't believe me, read on! Here are 10 benefits from eating together:

It's Good for the Body!

1. When families eat together, everyone tends to eat healthier. People who have frequent family meals consume more calcium, fiber, iron, and vitamins B6, B12, C and E. It could be because home-cooked meals are healthier than fast food and restaurant meals. (Source: Archives of
Family Medicine)

2. Children tend to eat more fruits and vegetables when they frequently have dinner with their families. They also tend to eat fewer snack foods. (Source: American Dietetic Association) When we eat all together, we cook meatloaf with veggies on the side or we make stew. When the kids eat alone, we heat up chicken fingers. Not good.

3. Children in families who eat dinner together are less likely to be overweight (Source: Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine). I think this is also because parents are watching what they eat! And when we snack in front of the TV, we eat way more than if we were sitting at a table.

Good For The Brain
4. Children from families who eat meals together get better grades than their peers who don't have lots of family meal times (Source: Lou Harris-Reader's Digest National Poll).
5. When families eat together frequently, children have better language skills compared to kids from families who don't have family mealtimes often. (Source: Harvard University) TV doesn't teach language skills well. When we eat at the table, kids hear their parents talking to each other, too. It's great!

Good For Emotional Health

6. Children of families who eat together report feeling happier and are more optimistic about the future, than their peers who have infrequent family meals. (Source: Lou Harris- Reader's Digest National Poll)

7. Teenagers are less likely to use drugs, smoke, and drink alcoholic drinks, when their families eat together regularly. (Source: Columbia University) I read this study a few years ago and have quoted it frequently. When we eat dinner, we catch up with our kids. They know we care. So they're less likely to give in to peer pressure!

8. It may come as a surprise, but among Moms who work outside the home, those who have family mealtimes reported feeling less stress than those who had family dinners less
often. (Source: Family and Consumer Sciences Research Journal) When we feel that our priorities are being met, we feel less stress.

9. The more often teen girls had meals with their families, the less likely they were to have symptoms of depression and suicidal behaviors. (Source: University of Minnesota) And fewer teenage pregnancies!

Good For Family Bonding

10. Eating together gives family members the chance to communicate and build relationships, something that both adults and children appreciate very much. (Source: Nutrition Education Network of Washington & Oprah Winfrey's "Family Dinner Experiment")
I hope these reasons motivate you and your family to try and eat together more often. We're all busy - even children have plenty of after-school activities. But as the list above shows, family meals are worth every effort we put into them.

It helps to plan ahead so that we're not scrambling to get dinner ready or panicking because we don't have all the ingredients we need. To make it easier to get the family around the table with a home-cooked meal, check out Dine Without Whine's menu planning service. It cost just a penny to try it out!

And check out Org Junkie every Monday for her Meal Plan Monday! But get eating

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At 8:50 AM , Blogger Jodi said…

as a mother to 4 kids (2 teen boys, 1 preteen boy and a young girl)I agree with your posts about eating as a family! We eat dinner every night together! We have made a few 'dinner rules' for our table too(other than the normal ones of manners and behaviour):
there is no talk of video games, tv, or movies (unless it is in reference to a movie seen for school).
the kids all take turns saying their own graces.
we try to have the kids talk about the best part of each of their days.
we also try to do the clean up together so that it doesnt drag out all night and they see at we all are part of the meal process!


At 8:57 PM , Blogger Mélanie said…

I grew up with a family of 5 kids in a small Northern village. We always ate dinner together with my dad always making it home from work early enough to join us at the dinner table. I'd say that this has been the thing I have been the most persistent about with my husband, as everything always dragged him away at suppertime. The past year or so, I think I've finally convinced him of the importance of it all... He's been joining us at the dinner table, and I can't tell you how lovely that is. It motivates me to put more effort into cooking (so we all eat better), and the girls love to catch up with their dad at that time and tell us about school, they fight to say grace (so they usually both say it one after the other!). It's just a good family bonding time. I'm glad we're finally in the habit as I've been longing for it since my first was born 6 years ago! ;) I also ran into this site a while back from Tim Kimmel's Family Matters site:

The purpose of this site is to bring deeper and more open discussions to families using news that opens up topics on moral, ethical and spiritual issues. My family's still a bit young, but it's a neat resource, thought I'd pass it on! Good post!

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About Me

Name: Sheila

Home: Belleville, Ontario, Canada

About Me: I'm a Christian author of a bunch of books, and a frequent speaker to women's groups and marriage conferences. Best of all, I love homeschooling my daughters, Rebecca and Katie. And I love to knit. Preferably simultaneously.

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