Eating together as a family is a special moment with lots of benefits,makingit a priority for most parents, according to a survey of U.S. parents, conducted by Toluna, Dallas, Texas.

Four in five (81%) of parents love when their family shares a meal together. And, moms especially love a meal together (87% vs 76% of dads). Meanwhile, 82% say that eating together lets them bond with their family, with 87% of moms in agreeance (compared to 78% of dads).

Additional factors of the study include:

  • 78% agree that eating together as a family is a priority for them.
  • 76% learn a lot from their kids when they share a meal together.
  • 67% think that eating together as a family will make their kids smarter.
  • 3 in 5 (59%) say that family meals are the only time when they can really talk to each other.
  • But, over half (54%) say that they don’t need to eat together to have quality family time.

Eating less meals together as a family
Nearly half (47%) of parents say that they share fewer meals with their family than when they were growing up (53% of dads vs 41% of moms), while 43% of parents say that they have fewer family meals now than from five years ago (50% dads vs 35% moms).

The demographics include 50% Northwest, 36% Midwest, 40% South and 45% West. Fifty-eight percent of parents wish they could get their family to sit down to a family meal together more frequently. And, so do 60% of Millennal parents (vs 55% of non-Millennial parents) and 66% of dads (vs 50% of moms).

Nearly half (48%) of parents agree that when they share a family meal together, it’s for a short duration. The top reason that prevents families from having dinner together is that their schedules don’t line up.

However, one in four (24%) say that nothing prevents their family from sitting down to dinner together.

What prevents families from having dinner together
When asked what prevents families from having dinner together, more than half (57%) of parents agree that even when they eat together as a family, some of their family members are distracted by technology. This occurs even more with Millennial parents (60%) vs non-Millennial parents (54%).

Cooking meals together
The survey shows that cooking meals together is not necessarily a solo activity. In fact, 74% say that cooking together allows them to bond with their family. Meanwhile, 66% say that their kids enjoy helping them cook, and 65% say that their husband/wife/partner helps them choose the menu for meals.

Dads especially get the help (73% compared to 57% of moms). And, 65% say that their kids help them choose the menu for meals. Sixty-one percent say that cooking together is part of their family meal time. And, West Coast parents significantly agree (70% West, 62% Northeast, 54% Midwest, 58% South).

The study also outlines that moms are primarily in charge of cooking their family meals (65%) compared to dad (16%), kids (9%), grandparents (4%), other (5%) and 1% do not cook family meals.

Nearly all (99%) of families have at least one meal together as a family a week. Four in five (85%) typically have dinner together as a family four or more nights each week (accounting for more than half the dinners each week).

One in three (32%) typically have dinner together as a family every night/7 days per week. More than half of families eat all three meals together as a family on the weekends. Three in five (60%) Millennial parents eat Monday morning breakfast together as a family. Wednesday nights are the most common meal of the week for families to eat together (79%).

Most weekday breakfasts and lunches are eaten on the go, according to the study, but weekday dinners are eaten on the go nearly as often as another meal in the week (58%).

At-home meals vs eating on the go
Whether physically eating at home or on the go, most U.S. consumers prepare their meals at home, the study displays.

A majority of parents prepare 70% of their meals at home each week vs takeout/eating out (75%). But, only 30% of parents would make their favorite family recipe if they could eat only one type of family meal for the rest of their life

Keeping traditions alive
Parents say they would eat around the dining room table if they could eat family meals at only one location for the rest of their life (44%), vs in the family room (22%), around the kitchen island/bar top (10%), outdoors (12%) and at a restaurant (12%).