The benefits of family dinner time

Dinners at home are a big key toward a healthy family.

It is easy to see how getting the family together for dinner can be put on the back burner. Whether it is soccer practice, guitar lessons or staying late at the office, a sit-down meal with the entire family can be hard to make happen. While work and hobbies are always essential components to the day, finding the time to get everyone together for a home-cooked dinner is a lost art that many families are missing out on. So, if your family enjoys supper scattered around the house or in front of the television, it may be worth making family dinner time a priority.

Bring everyone together
One of the obvious motivations for gathering the family around the dinner table is simply to cherish an opportune moment in the day when everyone is together. Recent surveys have estimated that only 40 percent of families in the U.S eat dinner together around three or fewer times per week, while 10 percent of families never eat supper together. While it's somewhat unreasonable to expect to mesh everyone's schedules together seven nights a week, planning family dinners in advance will help to improve the overall sense of unity, not to mention get everyone caught up with each other's lives. In an era where quickness and technology are held to the highest regard, sometimes sitting down, putting away the phones and sharing a healthy meal and discussion is the greatest virtue a family can have.

Emphasis on nutrition
There's no doubt that constantly being on the go and shuttling the kids from one activity to another may lead to the occasional fast food pit​ stop. These drive-thru occasions, no matter how infrequent, can add up and truly take a toll on you or your children's health. It is estimated that around 68 percent of American adults today are considered obese, and nearly 20 percent of children ages 6 through 11 are deemed overweight as well. Fast food intake is higher than ever, and is widely considered a major suspect in this national obesity epidemic. When you cook a meal at home, you are the chef and master nutritionist. Toss together a salad with fresh sliced fruit so that your family can reap the rewards of healthy antioxidants and nutrients. The dinner table is also an opportune time and place to enlighten your kids on their nutrition, explaining to them why fruits and vegetables are so essential to their everyday diet.

Balance your budget
Not only can going out to eat be unhealthy, it can also do some damage to your bank account! It has been estimated that upwards to 50 percent of all meals are eaten away from home, and when you really start to think about that, it can add up quick. This is just another reason why sharing a meal at home can benefit your family. The U.S. Department of Agriculture projects that the average cost to feed a family of four is between $146 to $289 per week. When you start to do the math, you will find that spending around $250 per week on groceries for the whole family accounts to $62.50 per person every week, which results in around $250 spent on meals per month for each family member. Now let's say a family of four dines out three times a week. At an average of $10 an entree, the total bill can be anywhere from $40 to $50 per restaurant meal, which comes to about $150 per week spent on eating out, or $600 a month, on top of already purchasing groceries for home. These casual dining routines can take its course financially over time, which is why sticking to a home cooked meal is just another advantage for the entire family.       

Planning the perfect dinner
Establishing specific days during the week is a perfect way to start organizing your family's meals and help everyone stay on the same page. If there is an evening that no one has any scheduled activities, designate it as family pasta night and create your own tradition. Sundays are generally the perfect occasion for such, plus you can spend the day cooking together – why not try your hand a homemade pasta. Make a few rules for the dinner table as well, such as no phones or television so everyone's attention is geared toward enjoying the company and food. Remember, a closer dinner table can be a big step toward a tighter family, so try to squeeze some time in for exclusive dining experiences.

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