Take a Seat: The Importance of Family Meals

Pull up a chair and pass the pasta. Sitting down for a family dinner may seem like a thing of the past, but there’s no reason why it can’t be a part of your family at least once—or even a few times—each week. Whether there’s a hearty bowl of spaghetti on the table, or you’re making the most of what’s left of summertime by grilling up some burgers and brats, Botticelli understands the benefits of eating together. Some positive outcomes from family meals may include:

Healthier Choices. When you eat at home, you get to control the food that’s served. A fresh salad, baked potato and grilled chicken are not only healthier than most fast-food options, but also more filling and overall, less expensive. If time is of the essence, prepare a few meals on a Sunday afternoon and reheat them or throw them in the oven to cook during the week. And always ask for help if you need it—from setting the table to doing the dishes, everyone can play a part in creating a delicious family meal.

Portion Control. On average, a typical dish at a restaurant will contain 60 percent more calories than one made at home. And when you cook at home, you can control what goes into your dish and how much each person gets. You’re able to replace butter with olive oil as a healthy alternative, and use fresh fruits and veggies rather than canned and pre-packaged (and often sodium- and sugar- rich) ingredients. All in all, you’re able to eat less and feel more satisfied.

Money Saving. You grocery shop, right? It’s a part of life. So why spend even more money on food at restaurants, when you have plenty of healthier options already in your kitchen? According to the National Consumer Expenditure Survey from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average household spent $3,465 on meals at home, and $2,668 on meals outside of home in 2007. Eating at home will save you money on food—money that can later be spent toward a family vacation or something else that you can all enjoy together.

Quality Time. It’s been scientifically proven that sharing a family meal is good for all family members. Recent studies show that regular family dinners lead to lower rates of substance abuse, teen pregnancy, obesity, eating disorders and depression. And they also yield higher grade point averages and self-esteem. Additionally, dinner conversation can serve as a more effective vocabulary-booster than reading, too.

So instead of stopping at a drive-thru or eating a pre-packaged meal in front of the TV, turn off your electronics and enjoy a meal with the ones you love. The benefits are immeasurable.

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