‘Family dinner’ a thing of the past? The average person spends only 3 meals a week with loved ones

NEW YORK – Is family dinner, between after-school sports and parents’ long working days, becoming more and more obsolete? Three in five Americans think every dinner should be a “family dinner” — and just as many would like to eat more often with their families.

In a poll of 2,000 American adults, the average person says they can only spend three dinners a week with their loved ones. Many have seen a decrease in how often they eat with family, leaving them wanting more. In their youth, the average person recalled eating four dinners a week with family and another two dinners with others outside their family circle.

For almost half of the polls (49%) eating together with the family is an “important way to connect” during a meal. Shared dinners were also good for making memories (46%), learning more about their family in general (46%) and continuing family traditions (45%).

Commissioned by The Honey Baked Ham Company and conducted by OnePoll, the survey also explored what table manners will look like in 2022. The data showed that two-thirds (67%) of those surveyed believe good table manners are an important factor at family dinners.

Did you wash your hands? Most Common Family Dinner Etiquette Rules

More than a third (35%) follow the same etiquette rules as children. Twenty-six percent say they made their own rules as adults. The top five universal dining etiquette rules Americans follow today are: wash your hands before sitting down at the table (49%), don’t talk with your mouth full (46%), don’t slurp your food or drink (44%) , chew with mouth closed (44%) and make no noises with eating utensils (43%).

The survey also exposed the most offensive “sins” at the dinner table. The best no-nos are chewing with your mouth open (19%), not washing your hands (17%) and burping (17%).

“We’re pleased to hear that families are looking to spend more quality time together chatting, catching up and bonding over a delicious family meal,” Jim Dinkins, CEO of The Honey Baked Ham Company, said in a statement. “What pleasantly surprises us is how many people consider good table manners to be an important part of the family dining experience.”

table manners

What does ‘convenience’ cost?

When dining with others, nearly half of Americans prefer ready-made meals from home (49%) or home-cooked meals (48%). Ordering takeout (43%) and dining in a restaurant (32%) followed closely.

Parents in the survey particularly liked home-cooked meals — four in five preferred it to any other way of preparing food. Yet the average parent only gets around to making four meals a week from scratch. Two in three (65%) claim that preparing dinner for their family is a stressful event.

This may be especially true during the summer months, as parents reported feeling more stressed preparing dinner in the summer (59%) than during the school year (53%). When asked what would stop them from preparing a home-cooked meal, 43 percent of all respondents say they don’t feel like cleaning up. Others don’t have the cooking skills (40%) or don’t have the time (35%).

To be considered an “easy” meal, the average American says it takes less than 33 minutes to prepare. Looking at the price per meal, Americans expect family meals per person to be $10.10 for a home-cooked meal, $12 for takeout, $11.60 for fast food and $12.40 for a sit-down restaurant meal.

“However you define family, we’re all looking for ways to keep family dinner stress-free,” Dinkins adds. “Finding something to make quickly is only part of the solution.”

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