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When it comes to getting dinner on the table, a few things never change. Some of you are too tired to cook a meal after a long day, and some of you are too busy to even make it home in time for dinner. And let’s face it—some of you just can’t cook. But the way American families prepare food and share meals is changing as schedules get more complicated than ever and electronic distractions become ubiquitous.
First, the good news. According to an AP-iVillage poll of 1,006 adults conducted during the last week, there’s still hope for the home-cooked meal: Two-thirds of respondents reported cooking and/or eating a home-cooked meal five or more nights a week, and about 60 percent said they make an effort to seek out new foods and recipes (often from the Internet) to try at least half the time. In addition, around 60 percent said they hadn’t dined in either a fast-food or a sit-down restaurant in the past seven days.
As for eating meals together as a family—defined as one adult living with at least another adult and/or a child under the age of 18—the numbers aren’t as appetizing. Only about 6 in 10 families reported eating dinner together five or more times in the past seven days, with more than a third blaming working late and kids’ extramural activities as reasons they sometimes don’t eat dinner together. Numerous studies suggest that this figure needs to improve, as families have been shown to eat more nutritious meals and smaller portions when they dine together at home. Even more important, research shows that children who eat regularly with their families are less likely to smoke, drink or use drugs.
For those families who do make an effort to gather regularly around the dinner table, it turns out they could stand to learn some manners: 55 percent said the TV is on half the time or more; 50 percent reported allowing the phone to interrupt meals at least half the time; and 15 percent admitted to emailing and texting while passing the potatoes. Now that’s something to chew on while pondering the future of the family dinner.
How often do you eat dinner with your family? Chime in below!