The practice of sitting down at the dinner table is a tradition that has changed over time. As American’s schedules became increasingly more hectic and technology became increasingly more accessible, the world was seemingly becoming a difficult space for families to sit down for dinner, disconnect and break bread — that is, until 2020.
According to a recent study from ButcherBox, the leading direct-to-consumer meat brand, almost half of Americans (44 percent) report that they have started to sit down for dinner more often because of the pandemic and one in four Americans (40 percent) sit down for dinner the same amount as they did prior to the pandemic.
More than half of Americans (56 percent) report sitting down for dinner most nights while one quarter of those respondents (26 percent) report sitting down for dinner every night. This suggests the pandemic has helped not only push people towards eating at home more but making time to gather around the dinner table as well. While less than half of Americans (44 percent) do not sit down consistently for dinner, three-quarters (76 percent) of those respondents wish they could do so more often. Busy work schedules and arriving home late from work appear to be the biggest roadblock for a third of these Americans (37 percent).
“Gathering with people who you love to celebrate the end of the day with great food and conversation is an unbelievably powerful experience,” said Mike Salguero, founder and CEO of ButcherBox. “Decades of research has shown that making an intentional, purposeful commitment to gather around the dinner table has significant physical and mental health benefits, along with the health benefits of eating a home cooked meal. It’s reassuring to see this positive behavior continue to remain a constant for so many Americans as we come out of such a challenging time.”
Half of millennials and generation-Z (50 percent) are finding the pandemic has changed their outlook on cooking and sitting down for dinner in a positive way. For example, a quarter of those respondents (25 percent) made a resolution to eat at the dinner table more often. Separately, half of these two generations (49 percent) cook more at home as a result of the pandemic. Less than a quarter (16 percent) are planning to go back to their pre-pandemic habits as it relates to cooking now that COVID restrictions are loosening.
While the report found half of Americans (47 percent) are sitting down for dinner at a traditional kitchen or formal dining room table, millennials and gen zers are doing so more often. More than half of younger generations (52 percent) are opting to eat their dinner at a traditional kitchen or dining room table and only one third of Americans (35 percent) over the age of 45 are opting for those more traditional seating options.
Additionally, millennials and gen zers are aiming to improve connectedness and communication during dinner time. While a third of Americans (34 percent) over the age of 54 report watching TV every night during dinner, less than a quarter of millennials and gen zers (22 percent) report watching TV every night during dinner.
“Not only are younger generations embracing the idea of family dinner, regardless of how they define family, but they have clearly gained the confidence to prepare that meal on their own,” said Salguero. “Even as COVID restrictions lift, it’s clear the habits these generations have formed over the last two years, coupled with the knowledge and confidence of being in the kitchen, have had a positive impact on how they view gathering for dinner, or any meal.”