Gathering Around the Dinner Table Becomes a More Practiced Ritual

family dinner plans

According to a recent study from ButcherBox, the leading direct-to-consumer meat brand, almost half of Americans (44 percent) report that they have started to gather at a dinner table more often because of the pandemic and one in four Americans (40 percent) sit down for dinner the same amount as they did prior to the pandemic.

More than half of Americans (56 percent) report sitting down for dinner most nights while one quarter of those respondents (26 percent) report sitting down for dinner every night. This suggests the pandemic has helped not only push people towards eating at home more but making time to gather around the dinner table as well. While less than half of Americans (44 percent) do not sit down consistently for dinner, three-quarters (76 percent) of those respondents wish they could do so more often. Busy work schedules and arriving home late from work appear to be the biggest roadblock for a third of these Americans (37 percent).

“Gathering with people who you love to celebrate the end of the day with great food and conversation is an unbelievably powerful experience,” said Mike Salguero, founder and CEO of ButcherBox. “Decades of research has shown that making an intentional, purposeful commitment to gather around the dinner table has significant physical and mental health benefits, along with the health benefits of eating a home cooked meal. It’s reassuring to see this positive behavior continue to remain a constant for so many Americans as we come out of such a challenging time.”

Additionally, millennials and gen zers are aiming to improve connectedness and communication during dinner time. While a third of Americans (34 percent) over the age of 54 report watching TV every night during dinner, less than a quarter of millennials and gen zers (22 percent) report watching TV every night during dinner.

“Not only are younger generations embracing the idea of family dinner, regardless of how they define family, but they have clearly gained the confidence to prepare that meal on their own,” said Salguero. “Even as COVID restrictions lift, it’s clear the habits these generations have formed over the last two years, coupled with the knowledge and confidence of being in the kitchen, have had a positive impact on how they view gathering for dinner, or any meal.”

Additional Insights 

  • Almost all Americans report having some dinnertime rituals they practice regularly.

More than three quarters of Americans (79 percent) have some kind of dinner time ritual. For example, one in three Americans (29 percent) have a meal tradition on certain days of the week whether that be adhering to themed dinners like “Taco Tuesday” or always having pizza on Friday nights. When it comes to dinner table etiquette, 30 percent of Americans have a “no cell phones and electronics at the table” rule.

  • Contrary to popular belief, cooking isn’t the detractor to sitting down for dinner, cleaning is.

One third of Americans (33 percent) believe cleaning up after dinner is the most difficult part of dinner time and all generations are in agreement there. Shopping for ingredients, prepping the meal, and cooking aren’t nearly as inconvenient as cleaning is.

  • One thing COVID hasn’t changed is dinner time, the 6p hour still is the clear dinner hour.

Nearly 30 percent of Americans eat dinner between 6p and 7p. Less than a quarter (17 percent) of Americans do not have a set dinner time and eat whenever they can squeeze it in or at various times each week when their schedule permits.

  • Back-to-school time presents challenges for parents, yet they are committed to getting back on the routines even if it means more take-out.

Almost three quarters of respondents (70 percent) with school aged children, report feeling overwhelmed during back-to-school time. Nearly two thirds of those overwhelmed parents (64 percent) resort to ordering takeout or purchasing dinner outside of the home in an effort to stay in a consistent dinnertime routine during back-to-school time.

The practice of sitting down at the dinner table is a tradition that has changed over time. As American’s schedules became increasingly more hectic and technology became increasingly more accessible, the world was seemingly becoming a difficult space for families to sit down for dinner, disconnect and break bread — that is, until 2020.

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