“It’s time for dinner” is a famous phrase yelled by moms everywhere. Sometimes the demand of cooking what can feel like endless meals can be a thankless job. Parents everywhere may wonder if all the work to create home-cooked meals is worth it. I know I have wondered if all my hours spent in the kitchen really mattered to the well-being of my family!

The good news is that there are so many great reasons to remain committed to your dinner time ritual of sitting down around the table altogether. Family Dinner is a sacred space that has lasting and far-reaching positive impacts on our kids’ lives. Mom and Dad, go ahead and give yourself a big pat on the back; those home-cooked meals are a big win for your family’s emotional, academic, and nutritional well-being!

If you struggle to make dinner at the table a thing, there are some great reasons to start! This space and time spent together help create stronger connections between the members of your family. It’s a place where we can nurture our bodies together as a family. It’s space for daily memories, check-ins, and conversation.

Here are five great reasons to have dinner at home together around your kitchen table.

1. Family Dinner Strengthens Our Family’s Relationship

Sitting down together at the end of the day for dinner is not just about nutrition; it’s about relationships. Family Dinner is an intentional check-in at the end of our hectic days. It’s a chance for us to recount the highs and lows of the day. It’s a place where space is made to ask each other questions, laugh, tell jokes, and even come up with silly dinner-time games. Our table is our family’s best gathering space.

When our kids are young, this routine helps them strengthen a sense of security and a feeling of belonging in the family. As our kids grow up, oftentimes, our weeks can get fuller! The demands of school, practices, church, playdates, and more can make having time to all be together regularly at dinner time a challenge. Family meals are still something our older kids need and crave. In a Columbia University study, 71% of teens surveyed reported they considered the chance to talk and catch up with their family the best part of family dinners.

2. Family Dinners at Home Tend to be More Nutritious

For most of us, dinner at home around the table means that some part of our meal was probably homecooked. Meals on the go tend to be less nutritious as we tend to reach for processed or fast foods. When families were surveyed, they found that 9 to 14-year-olds who ate dinner with their families more frequently consumed fruits and vegetables, less soda, and less fried foods. Their diets also had higher amounts of key nutrients such as calcium, iron, and fiber.

Time eating together around the table leads to more helpful family conversations about health and nutrition. I know this is true at my house…oftentimes, my kids ask why they have to eat all their vegetables; these questions lead us into more in-depth conversations about the nutritional value of the items we have prepared for them. This means later when I let them know they can’t have a treat, they understand that this is because treats and sugar must be consumed in moderation. Our family dinner nutrition discussions lay the foundation for our food decisions for the rest of our day.

3. Family Dinners Lead to More Wins Outside Our Homes

The more connected our children are to their family units, statistically, they are more likely to experience more wins when they venture outside our homes. One of those wins is the ability to earn good grades. A report by CASA found that teens who have between five to seven family dinners per week are twice as likely to report receiving mostly A’s and B’s in school than those teens who have fewer than three family dinners per week.

In addition to good grades, children who regularly eat with their parents are more likely to be emotionally strong and have better mental health. These kids tend to be more well-adjusted, have better manners, and have superior communication skills. An added bonus is that mothers who ate dinner with their kids also tended to be happier as well! We all gain something from our commitment to stay connected as a family.

4. Eating Together at the Table Helps You to Focus

We live in a culture where multitasking is a part of almost every moment of our day. When we are sitting to rest, we are also scrolling Facebook. When we are working at our computer, we are also searching for Pinterest inspiration. When we are talking to our kids, we are also trying to cook dinner or fold the laundry. All of this multitasking makes it hard for us to really connect with each other or enjoy the experiences right in front of us.

Sitting at a designated eating table in our homes helps create a space and time in our homes where we can stop doing five things at once and focus on filling our bodies and being with the other members of our family that are sitting around the table with us. The table is a symbol of family connectedness, nourishment, and togetherness, and is a place where we can be present with each other for thirty minutes at the end of our days. It is a sacred space in our homes where we invite each other to come together to daily commune.

5. Eating Dinner at Home Saves Money

One purely practical reason to make time to eat together is that family dinners at home save money! The average meal out costs around $13. By contrast, the average meal prepared at home costs around $4 for groceries! This comes out to be about a $9 savings per person per meal! Another way to think about that is that a restaurant meal is about 325% more expensive than a $4 meal you prepare yourself!

The savings grows even bigger if you make and use leftovers! Of course, these numbers vary based on where you live and what you are cooking for dinner, but overall the trend is always true – eating at home saves money!

Next time you feel worn out by the work of cooking yet another meal, just do the mental math of how much money you are saving your family and do a little happy dance. The added bonus is that you are providing your family more nutritious food and a safe space for them to connect with you at the end of a busy day! The dinner table is a place where we can slow down and take the time to mindfully savor our food and each other’s company. It’s a family ritual that helps us remain present and connected in each other’s lives, no matter the season we are in. It is also a chance for us to help encourage each other in maintaining healthy habits. Protect this space in your home; it’s a valuable practice for your entire family.

Photo credit: ©GettyImages/monkeybusinessimages

Amanda Idleman is a writer whose passion is to encourage others to live joyfully. She writes devotions for My Daily Bible Verse Devotional and Podcast, Crosswalk Couples Devotional, the Daily Devotional App, she has work published with Her View from Home, on the MOPS Blog, and is a regular contributor for Crosswalk.com. You can find out more about Amanda on her Facebook Page or follow her on Instagram.