When I was a child, I knew exactly where I belonged in the world. Even though I was one of the original latch key kids of the 70s with two working parents, the world stopped every evening when we all came together, as a family, at the dinner table.
Mom had the weekly meal plan stuck to the fridge and with it was a chore chart so we knew who was responsible for setting the table, helping with meal prep, and doing the clean-up.
Dinner in our house was a ritual. There was a great deal of comfort in knowing that no matter what else was going on when it was time for dinner, we all stopped, took our regular seats at the table, and broke bread together while reconnecting and talking about our day.
The dinner table was a sacred place where we all respected the work that went into bringing a meal together. We honored the fact that money had to be earned to buy the food we were eating. That time and thought had to be put into shopping for the groceries. And that love and care were taken by the hands that prepared the meal for us.
We grew closer with each meal we shared around that table. Our souls were nurtured as much as our bodies were. I absolutely loved it.
When I was in my 20s, working as a caterer, I started noticing that all families didn’t come together around the dinner table. I saw mothers put plates of food in front of their kids, not bothering to prepare a meal for themselves. I witnessed teens asking what was for dinner and being told to put a pizza pocket in the microwave.
It started to become clear to me that the dinner table was no longer being honored the way it once was. When I became a mother myself, I made sure that every evening we ate together. There was nothing more important and nobody was bringing their meal to the living room to eat in front of the Television. No way, no how.
Saving Dinner was my effort to help families of America come back to the dinner table together. I feel like the family meal is a piece of our culture that must remain sacred and it’s up to us to give it the respect it deserves.
It is easy to move away from the dinner table with everyone working so much these days, but because we live in such busy times, it’s more important than ever to keep that family unit in check.
Studies show us that in homes where everyone sits around the family dinner table each evening, children are more likely to do well in school, they’re more likely to be well-adjusted, and they have lower instances of teen pregnancy, drinking, and doing drugs—all of the things you want for your children. They all stand a better chance of being accomplished if you provide a simple, secure dinner table.
So start planning out those meals so you know what you need to pick up at the grocery store, and what you’ll be eating each evening (this is why I created Dinner Answers, to make this part of your life easier!) and make an effort to eat more meals together. Even if it takes you a while to get organized, one meal a week is better than none, so do what you can.
I know you will love the way it feels to pause everything else you have going on in your lives so that you can sit around the table to share precious moments with your family.
I hope that this year you will join our movement and resolve to get your family back to the dinner table.