Before we go any further, I need to clear something up. I eat ‘tea’, not ‘dinner’. Actually, that’s a lie. I eat ‘dinner’ too, but my ‘dinner’ is more likely to be your ‘lunch’. As everyone from the north knows, people eat ‘breakfast’, ‘dinner’ and ‘tea’. Now that I live in the south though, I find myself conforming to ‘breakfast’, ‘lunch’ and ‘dinner’. So, to avoid any ambiguity, I’m going to refer to ‘tea’ as ‘dinner’ in this post – even if it does make me die a bit inside. Clear? Good. Let’s start.
I remember when Hay was pregnant and we had various conversations about how we wanted to raise our kid(s). We’re both pretty laid back, so there were very few ‘rules’. One of the points that we were both adamant about though was the need to sit down as a family every evening for dinner. This is something we started when the sprog was a baby – thanks to the Stokke Tripp Trapp – and have continued through to the current day.
For us, it was important to ensure that we had a bit of distraction free, quality family time each day. With the missus working full-time and Toddler L now at nursery part-time, we don’t get to spend much time together during the week.
As she leaves at 7.45am and gets back at 6.30pm, the missus sees the sprog for a measly 1.5 hours each day. As such, eating together in the evening has always given us the change to interact as a family, which is even more important now that Toddler L is communicating more.
It would seem that we’re in the minority though. According to new research commissioned by HelloFresh, 73% of adults no longer sit together around the table at meal times, 40% of adults eat their evening meal separately and over 50% of parents do not eat with their children.
What’s more, 69% of adults and 60% of children eat watching TV or whilst looking at a tablet. Now I’m not one to judge, but some of these figures did surprise me – particularly the one about 4% of children eating alone in their bedrooms.
So, to try and get more families eating together, HelloFresh has teamed up with Jane Ogden, Professor in Health Psychology at the University of Surrey and author of The Good Parenting Food Guide for the #DinnerTimeChallenge.
The idea is to commit to spending 30 days eating dinner with your family so that you can experience the benefits – more connected with your family, healthier food choices, managing picky eaters etc – of sitting down at the table to eat. Not that difficult, eh?
Although we’re pretty good at sitting down together for our evening meals, there are obviously times when it doesn’t work out. Sometimes the missus gets in late from work, sometimes I can’t be bothered to cook, sometimes the toddler is in one of those moods etc.
In situations such as these, we usually give Toddler L something ‘easy’, then sort out our own food when she’s in bed. However, as part of the #DinnerTimeChallenge, we’ve been attempting to sit down together each evening – no matter what!
To help us out during this challenge, we were set up with a three-month membership for HelloFresh. Each week, we receive a ‘Family Box’ (four meals for two adults and two children) which includes easy-to-follow-recipe cards and high quality, pre-portioned fresh ingredients. As there’s more food than we need to feed us three, we’re using the leftovers for lunch or dinners later in the week. Here’s an example of the prawn rigatoni we ate earlier in the week:
As luck would have it, we recently had a week’s trial of HelloFresh after I won a £50 voucher in a competition. Up until that point, I don’t think we’d have considered a subscription meal service like this. However, we enjoyed it so much that I was keen to have an extended run to see how we’d fare. Two weeks into the #DinnerTimeChallenge and we love it even more. I never knew I was capable of having these strong feelings about a box of raw food!
During this time, we’ve enjoyed a multitude of different meals. These have ranged from mixed bean and pork chilli to Indian minced lamb koftas to Italian pork and tomato risotto. For someone who doesn’t give praise highly, every meal has been really tasty – even the ones that I’ve thought “hmm, I’m not sure I’ll like this one” before I’ve cooked it. It has genuinely impressed me and changed how I view food.
We’d got into a bit of a rut with food, which usually saw us cook the same things each week. However, HelloFresh has brought back my enthusiasm. It’s been great using fresh ingredients and cooking dishes that I wouldn’t usually make, plus I’ve enjoyed the convenience – everything measured out, easy-to-understand recipes and weekly deliveries to the door has massively appealed to my lazy side.
In case you’re interested in how we’ve been getting on, I’ve been using Instagram Stories as a way of documenting our #DinnerTimeChallenge. Here’s a few of the photos I’ve shared to date. We’ve still got a couple of weeks to go, so head on over and give me a follow on Instagram here to see what I’m cooking up. Or don’t. Whatever!
Now you know about the #DinnerTimeChallenge, why not get involved too? You don’t have to do anything other than commit to 30 days of eating at the table each evening with your family. What are your thoughts on eating together as a family? Did any of the research findings mentioned above surprise you? Let me know below!
N.B. We were provided with a three-month subscription to HelloFresh in order to take part in the #DinnerTimeChallenge and share our thoughts of the HelloFresh meals.