Benefits of Having Regular Family Meals

Family MealsFor many of us, life moves very fast with our busy schedules, and always-on lifestyles. This can make planning family mealtimes a difficult exercise, but it doesn’t have to be. There’s also the feeling that family meals should mostly occur on special occasions like Thanksgiving, Christmas or Easter, but sitting down together and having a family meal shouldn’t be limited to these events. This mealtime is an opportunity for families to share conversations and enjoy each other’s company.

There’s the argument that our fast food and convenience culture has had an impact on families having meals together. Furthermore, in today’s busy world, kids and parents need a shared time to be able to discuss and connect. These shared times don’t have to be a lengthy period of time either. A mealtime that lasts as little as 30 minutes each day may seem insufficient, but it’s indeed very significant. Let’s explore the benefits of families eating together in more detail.


With family meals, there is really a sense of togetherness with everyone dropping distractions, sharing the same menu, sharing deep conversations, discussing goals and future plans that affect the collective rather than any one individual. After all, what’s better than having interesting conversations with loved ones over an appetizing meal?

For families, when there are no regular mealtimes, there’s a chance that lack of cohesion may be present, because there’s not enough time spent by family members getting to know each other and there’s no knowledge of what changes are occurring in each individual’s life. Conversations in these settings present an opportunity to learn, bond and strengthen existing relationships.

Cost Savings

There are also cost savings associated with having frequent family meals (not just dinner). It’s generally accepted that home cooked meals are much cheaper than eating out and it’s so much easier to realize the savings benefits when these home cooked meals are recurring. This is a great way to keep your finances in check but it doesn’t mean that families can’t have meals at fancy restaurants – it’s okay to splurge a little once in a while!

Health benefits

Another benefit of having regular family meals is its impact on the overall health of the family. Families that have regular meals together are inclined to be healthier in their food choices and eating habits. This is also an opportunity for parents to provide a healthy model of eating for their children. Several studies like this one from Canadian Family Physician (CFP), have shown that family meals are linked with positive psychological outcomes for children and adolescents. According to this study from the official journal of The College of Canadian Family Physicians (CFP), children and adolescents’ healthy development is influenced by a number of family factors. One factor cited is that healthy family environments, in particular, family meals might serve as a way to increase family cohesion. It also adds, “…family rituals and routines, like the family meal, might offer consistency and a venue for checking in with family members, and for learning and teaching healthy food behaviour and attitudes.”

It’s important to note that the benefits of having family meals aren’t restricted to the three we’ve listed in this post. While the ones listed are important, there are certainly more benefits that can be derived from having frequent meals as a family. So we’ve summarized some positive points to give you a greater sense of the importance of family meals and why you should think of them as an efficient use of time. In addition to this summary, here are some tips you could certainly use to help you cook and eat more memorable meals together with your family:

  • Baby Steps: You don’t have to go all out to begin with, start small. Examine your current breakfast, lunch and dinner routines and see which one you can use to do a trial run. Depending on what your current family meal system is, you can add one extra family meal a week to the mix and see how that goes. Remember, small steps can lead to big rewards and positive outcomes over time!
  • Plan & create a menu: Here’s another interesting tip to help your family work together to come up with interesting meal ideas. You can also start by making a list of each person’s favorite meals and have a little fun deciding which one to have each day (if doing this daily is too tasking, try a weekly selection plan instead).
  • Make cooking & meal prep fun: Meal preparation doesn’t have to be a chore or a bore. Find ways to make this time more fun by involving the children or relatives in the meal making process. You can have them gather the ingredients or set the table before each meal to make sure everyone is being involved and contributing to a nutritious meal. This method not only saves time, but also shows the importance of teamwork, which is a characteristic of a close knit family.
  • Switch off the TV: Having the television turned on during family mealtimes can be very distracting and completely defeats the purpose of having these moments together. Switch off the television instead and spend that time enjoying a great meal, talking to one another and catching up on your days.
  • Make clean up fun: The fun doesn’t have to end because the meal is over. Clean up presents another opportunity to make things interesting and spend more time together. Work as a family to clean up after breakfast or dinner, work in teams to do the dishes and clean the table. You can make a mini-game out of it to prevent the process from becoming routine. There are already negative misconceptions that surround clean up, much like cooking and meal prep, it doesn’t have to feel like a chore.

Go ahead and feel free to make use of these tips the way they are or customize each one to your liking. You’ll find that the frequency of your family meals will increase over time by giving any one of these a try!


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