Planning & Prep
25 Surprising Family Dinner Statistics (2023): A Closer Look at the Dinner Table
We’ve all heard that sharing quality time and a meal with your family is good for the soul. But how many people are following this concept?
A recent Harvard study showed that 80% of teenagers claim family dinner is the time they are most likely to converse with their parents, and 85% of parents spend dinner with their children over five times per week, according to a U.S. Census Bureau study.
There are many facts surrounding mealtime that vary per household and habit — not to mention that the COVID-19 pandemic surely shook up how often folks eat dinner as a family. Grab a snack, kick back and let’s jump right into these family dinner statistics to discover behaviors, habits, and how often people gather around the table as a family.
Table of contents:
- Recent family dinner statistics
- Statistics around the importance of family dinners
- Facts about prepared food at home
- Family dinner eating habits
Recent family dinner statistics
In 2020, the number of people who ate dinner with their families increased, largely due to fewer family outings from stay-at-home orders. But as more families return back to school and the office in recent months, how has family dinner time changed? Here are a few of the most recent family dinner statistics.
- As of September 2022, 91% of parents surveyed noticed their family was less stressed when they shared family meals together.1
- 84% of adults wish they could share a meal with loved ones more often.1
- In 2021, 65% of American parents said they had received more meal prep help than before the COVID-19 pandemic.2
- In 2021, parents who served dinner by 6:15 p.m. spent 27% more time reading to their children at night, 18% more time playing with their children, 14% more overall time with their children and 11% more quality time with their children.3
- In a 2022 survey, a quarter of Americans (25%) responded that they buy groceries online at least once a week, which has increased significantly since 2021 (20%) and 2020 (only 11%).4
Statistics around the importance of family dinners
Studies show that frequent family dinners result in fewer emotional and behavioral problems and greater emotional well-being.17 Let’s take a look at a few statistics surrounding the importance of family meals.
- In a 2022 study conducted by the European Journal of Pediatrics, researchers found the frequency of family meals was positively associated with improved food consumption patterns (i.e., higher intake of fruits and vegetables and reduced consumption of sweets) in both parents and children.5
- In a September 2022 survey, 67% of people said that sharing a meal reminds them of the importance of connecting with other people, and 54% said it reminds them to slow down and take a break.1
- In a 2022 study conducted by the Dialogues in Health journal, for girls, better family meal environment quality at age 6 predicted an earlier bedtime, lower consumption of soft drinks and sweet snacks, more classroom engagement and fewer behavior problems at age 12.6
- In the same study, for boys, better family meal environment quality at age 6 predicted an earlier bedtime, less anxiety and more prosocial behavior at age 12.6
- 59% of respondents said they were more likely to make healthier food choices when eating with other people but have difficulty aligning schedules with their friends or family to do so, according to a 2022 survey.1
- Stress reduction, connecting with other people and taking time to slow down are identified as top benefits of family mealtime.1
Facts about prepared food at home
How many more people cook at home versus ordering takeout? What about meal kits? Check out these facts about prepared food at home that take a closer look at these dinner habits.
- Nearly two-thirds of consumers cite affordability as a major reason for cooking at home.7
- The share of consumers cooking dinner declines throughout the week, from roughly 60% on Sunday and Monday to around 50% on Friday and Saturday, when consumers are significantly more likely to turn to restaurants.7
- On an average weeknight, about half of millennials say they cook dinner from scratch, compared with roughly 70% of baby boomers.7
- In 2021, half of parents (50%) said their family had home-cooked meals more often since the start of the pandemic, while 20% say they have had fast food more often.8
- People who live alone are more likely to seek time-saving cooking options, including meal kits and prepared food.9
- As of July 2022, most consumers say they plan their meals in advance, and meal preparation is getting faster. Three-quarters (74%) say it takes less than one hour to prepare their meals and 30% say they spend less than 30 minutes, a faster rate than in recent years.10
- 54% of Americans are cooking at home more than they did before the COVID-19 pandemic.11
- 88% of U.S. adults claim they eat healthier at home versus when they eat out.12
Family dinner eating habits
Are you more likely to eat meals around a table, in front of the television or maybe at your favorite restaurant? Here are a few family eating habits that might be more common than you think.
- In a survey conducted in October of 2019, 29% of Americans said they sat down and ate at a dinner table every day.13
- Roughly 70% of meals in America are eaten outside of the home.14
- Folks prefer going out to dinner on the weekends more than twice as much compared to weekdays.15
- Having the television on during dinner has declined over the past decade: In 2009 a third of respondents to a CBS poll said the TV was “always on,” whereas in 2021 fewer than one in five respondents said so.16
- In a 2022 survey, 16% of respondents said that a conversation with a friend, family member or coworker motivated them to follow an eating pattern.4
- About two-thirds (65%) of those who indicate it’s difficult to have family dinners say “Members of my family are on different schedules, so we tend to eat at different times.”13
Final family dinner thoughts
While eating dinner with your family varies in cadence, it is interesting to dive into family dinner statistics. As you can see, the COVID-19 pandemic really shook up the habits and behaviors of family eating.
Now that you are more familiar with how often other families gather together over a meal, how does your situation compare?
Thankfully, you can incorporate more meals with your loved ones with the help of Instacart’s prepared foods. Receive all of your groceries without having to leave your home. Family dinners are now simplified with Instacart’s easy online ordering.
16 CBS News
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