NEW YORK — Americans may love fast food, but it turns out more people are finally slowing down and enjoying their family meals. Dinnertime now lasts 15 minutes longer in the typical American household than it did before the pandemic began, according to a recent study of 2,004 people. Overall, the average family meal has gone from 70 minutes to 85 minutes now — nearly a 20 percent increase in length overall.
The survey also shows that almost six in 10 (57%) respondents say their family gets together for meals more frequently than they did at the start of 2020.
Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Gold Peak Real Brewed Tea, researchers find that families are coming together for meals five times a week, compared to four times a week pre-pandemic. Those mealtimes are becoming more important, with 58 percent believing it is now the most relaxing part of their day. In fact, more Millennials (ages 25-40) agree with this in comparison to just 36 percent of Baby Boomers (age 57+).
Family meals not just for everyone under the same roof
Moreover, many now consider a close friend (55%), colleague (38%) or neighbor (36%) to be “part of the family.” More than two-thirds (68%) of Americans reported adding a new “family member” during the last 18 months and 43 percent of those are still including that person in family mealtime.
According to the poll, the most common activities families engage in while eating together include sharing family news (41%), watching movies together (37%), binge-watching the latest TV series (37%), and catching up on everyone’s day (37%).
“The pandemic has changed a lot of rituals and routines for families, but one ritual we see becoming stronger than ever is how much families value coming together over a meal,” adds Annie Gately, Senior Brand Manager for Gold Peak, in a statement. “We are all about celebrating families, and family mealtime is a place where you can be yourself and enjoy the special, meaningful moments of the day.”
The increased time together has also led to greater bonding opportunities. More than half of American parents (55%) in the poll say that cooking with their kids is a regular part of family mealtime now. Respondents also shared stories of their most memorable mealtime moments, including holiday gatherings, unexpected proposals, food fights, and even one funny incident where burnt cooking gave way to a family pizza night.
“If the past 18 months have taught us anything, it’s that family time is important and we should savor the moments we have with each other,” Gately says. “The survey data we gathered, along with the stories and experiences the respondents shared, reveals that family remains at the heart of what people enjoy about mealtime.”