The Benefits of Family Dinners

Thursday, June 20, 2019 - 1:00pm
Tami L. Johnson

Dinnertime for many families can be hectic, crazy, and chaotic. Or, it can be organized and enjoyable. We are constantly going to and fro with different sporting events or busy work schedules. However, we all need to eat. So why not sit down together and make that happen with those you love? 

Dr. Anne Fischel, family therapist and founding member of The Family Dinner Project, said, “No matter what your family make is, where you live or what your dinners are like right now, you can be a part of The Family Dinner Project. The only thing  you need to do is share a meal with people closest to you.”

So, what is The Family Dinner Project?  From their website, we understand that they are a 10 year-old non-profit initiative of Project Zero at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Additionally, from their website we learn that, “Over the past 25 years, research has shown what parents have known for a long time: sharing a fun family meal is good for the spirit, brain and health of all family members. Family meals are linked to lower rates of substance abuse, teen pregnancy, eating disorders and depression.”

            Dr. Fischel tells us you can get a nightly recipe with fewer than 8 ingredients, monthly newsletters, online resources, games to play with your family and more.  Fischel says, “Dinner is a time for kids and parents to connect and when kids feel they are being listened to, it’s like a seatbelt on the pot hole road of childhood and adolescence.”

Some recipes have a secret ingredient or sauce that makes it amazing. According to Fischel, “The secret sauce of dinner is not really in the food but in the atmosphere. Regular family dinners are less caloric, more packed with vegetables and fruits. Dinner is one of the few times of the day when kids and parents connect.”

There are at least 16 opportunities in a week where families can eat together including breakfast, lunches and dinner.

In my own family, I’ll admit it was much easier to sit around the dinner table when my children were all younger and less involved in extracurricular activities or work schedules. However, we still try to gather everyone together at least 4 nights a week. I enjoy seeing my kids baking in the kitchen now or making smoothies.  When they learn about good food and creating it themselves, they will naturally want to share it.

Recently, my husband bought a camp-chef smoker grill and, I have to say, it’s definitely kept our family around the table a little more often.  No one can pass up that smoky flavor in their chicken or pizza!

At The Family Dinner Project website, you can find several recipes such as beef stroganoff, one pan pesto chicken and veggies, spinach and feta cheese pizza-dilla and angel food cake with lime drizzle. All these recipes you can choose from to suit your family’s needs.

Make dinnertime less stressful and more about investing in time together—mixed with good food.  As mentioned before, we all have need to eat—so why not do it together?  Take up a new challenge this week and try to eat as often as you can with your famiies this week.  Try to cook up a new recipe, Try playing a new game at the table or try to create the atmosphere of love and warmth as you sit down together.

For more information on how you can get started, hop onto to get further ideas!