We’ve long heard of the benefits of having family meals. It’s the one time of day that everyone can come together and relax a bit. According to The Family Dinner Project, “over three decades of research have shown that regular family meals offer a wide variety of physical, social-emotional and academic benefits.”
Despite all of the benefits, recent reports state that only 30 percent of families have dinner together. Schedules don’t always meet up, and people are tired at the end of the day. Cooking dinner is just another chore. But it doesn’t need to be! Dinner time can be the part of the day that everyone looks forward to, the time where family members reconnect and relax. A big part of that is a family-style meal. It takes a bit of pressure off the cook and even has some unexpected benefits for families.
Want to learn all about the benefits of a family-style meal?
Let’s go to The Chalkboard.
What Is A Family-Style Meal?
First things first, what exactly is a family-style meal? The simple description is a meal where everyone serves themselves. Instead of pre-plating the food like in a more formal restaurant setting, bowls of food are placed out so that everyone can take what they want.
What Is The Importance Of Family-Style Meals?
What’s so great about letting family members serve themselves? Here are some unexpected benefits of family-style dining.
- Kids learn table manners and cooperation. Food is being passed around the table, and everyone needs to cooperate. It’s also a great time to teach kids table manners.
- Family-style meals mean more family interaction. You are asking for something to be passed or chatting about the food on the table. Serving dinner this way encourages conversations!
- Kids get to experience food. Even if your child doesn’t eat the vegetable they pass to you, they see it and become more comfortable accepting foods they may not enjoy.
- Family-style dinners help kids gain independence. They can serve themselves and learn to be more self-sufficient.
- Kids learn valuable food lessons. By serving themselves, kids learn about portion control. They see how much food they are taking and learn to listen to their hunger cues.
- The atmosphere is more relaxed. Think about when you go to a fancy restaurant. The food is served to you plated. The atmosphere is very formal and somewhat stiff. But when you have to pass food and help yourself, the atmosphere lightens up. This dining style allows everyone to unwind after a long day and open up to one another.
How To Make Family-Style Dining Work For You
I know you may be thinking, another thing I have to do? I hear you; our to-do lists are neverending. But this transition can be painless!
- Dishes – A primary concern is the number of plates that family-style dining creates. No longer are you serving directly out of the pan. To combat this, I use glass bowls. They are dishwasher safe, so no need to hand wash them. Plus, if there are any leftovers, you can store them there—no need to transfer them to Tupperware.
- Make use of a large cutting board. Do you have a large carving board that you only take out for your Thanksgiving bird? It’s time to integrate it into the everyday! There’s no need always to use bowls. Any item that isn’t liquid or rolls off a plate can be placed on a large cutting board to serve.
- As kids get older, invest in a lazy Susan. This spinning wheel will be clutch on Taco Tuesday when everyone is reaching for toppings.
- It doesn’t need to be dinner. If schedules don’t allow, make a sandwich board for lunch or try our pancake board for a delicious make-ahead meal.
What Do You Think?
How do you serve your family meals? Let me know in the comments below; I’d love to hear.
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Loving this! Family meal time is so important!
Excellent post and super helpful! I love the concept of kids gaining independence this way, plus the added bonus of more family cooperation. Awesome!!!
I love this idea, thank you for the tips! My family hardly ever even ate at the table growing up and I’ve always known that I’d like to have a family meal for dinner. I currently am a mom of “2 under 2” so it’s too early for them to grab their own food but I try to at least eat my meals at the table with the older one.
I’m Chinese, so I grew up eating family-style meals. I serve dinner the same way now with my own kids. You are so right about more interactions with each other during meals and building independence for my kids.
Kate Haldeman says
I’ve never cooked with corned beef, but will definitely try it out after seeing how many amazing things you can make with just the leftovers. Looks delicious.
Agreed, familybstyle meals are important especially for kids. A family that eats together definitely stays together.
Kalu Lor says
This a big priority in my family. Family dinner is so important for everyone. Thanks for sharing.
I love this blog topic because family-style dining is so important. This is something that many don’t pay attention to as much nowadays because of technology , busy lifestyle and everyone living their own lives. This is a topic that needs to be resurfaced during family conversations. Thank you!
Gabriela Herrera says
I love this so much especially in these times where people have become so disposable due to social media. Thank you for shedding light on this important matter.
Cindy Mom the Lunch Lady says
I grew up with family style meals and we try to eat family style most of the time in our house. It’s a great way to connect during the day.
One thing we manage to do is eat dinner as a family, but I usually always plate our meals. Had not considered some of the benefits you mentioned, but they make so much sense! Not sure I can go totally family style, but I think we can definitely incorporate it in more often.