Home for Dinner

Home for Dinner by Anne Fishel is a great book that explains the benefits of having mealtimes together as families. GranmdaIdeas.com
One of my fond memories of family mealtime is when our oldest son was in junior high school.

Reading to my children was very important to me. During grade school, I read to my kids — and they read to me — on most school nights.

When our oldest entered junior high, life after school was crazy. It seemed like everybody was going 100 different directions. Soccer games. Piano lessons. Homework. I struggled to find time to read to the kids. I felt grateful just to get them to do their homework.

One day, I had an idea! Why not read to my kids at breakfast? What a wonderful solution.

So instead of eating breakfast, I read to my family. Our kids and even my husband would linger a little longer listening to me read. I loved it!

Then, came high school and marching band — which was held before school. The younger kids refused to get up at the unearthly hour to have breakfast with their older brother. That eliminated reading to my kids at breakfast. Sigh.

Eating meals together as a family has been very important to me. We ate as a family as I was growing up. (I loved it when my mom made spaghetti!) As a parent, it was important for my family to eat together. So, I was very interested when I read the book Home for Dinner by Anne K. Fishel. What a great book!

Is your family crazy busy? Do you rarely eat together as a family? On those rare days that you do eat together, is there bickering, tension, and complaining about food? If so, this book is for you!

Fishel provides compelling research data that supports eating meals together as a family. Here are some interesting tidbits:

  • Regular family meals have been shown to lower obesity rates in children.
  • Dinner conversation boosts children’s vocabulary far more than reading to them. (I guess I should have been talking to my kids at breakfast instead of reading to them!)
  • Adolescents who ate dinner with their family 5 to 7 times a week were twice as likely to get A’s in school than those who ate with their families fewer than 3 times a week.
  • Children who ate meals with their family had better mental health.
  • Teens who ate dinner with their parents consumed more fruits and vegetables and fewer fried foods and soft drinks.
  • Research showed that there were lower rates of substance abuse, pregnancy, and depression in children who ate meals with their families.

Those are some powerful reasons to pull your family together to eat dinner!

Fishel addresses all of the issues surrounding family mealtimes — lack of time, picky eaters, contention, busy schedules. You name it, she discusses it.

One of the fun things about the book is that there are recipes sprinkled throughout. Fishel includes recipes for empanadas, fajitas, berries and cream, fish tacos, lasagna, guacamole, and muffins. I’ve got to try them all!

Fishel also shares lots of stories. One was especially poignant to me. A single mother of three went to Fishel for parenting advice. During the therapy, Fishel asked the woman to describe family mealtimes. The woman refused and for months couldn’t talk about it. When she did open up, she shared her traumatic experience.

The woman’s mother drank wine all day long. (So the unspoken message here was that she was drunk when dinnertime arrived.) For some unknown reason, her parents singled this woman out from her 3 siblings. The woman had to sit at the dinner table and watch everybody eat but she wasn’t allowed to eat anything. How awful! That certainly did not create a strong family tie.

Fishel pulls the data, the stories, and her experience to dish up (pun intended) a book full of suggestions on how to make mealtime a time to increase family happiness and connectedness. I recommend that you buy one for each of your children — and one for you. It’s a great motivation for families to eat together.

This book is a must-have for every family! You can find Home for Dinner on Amazon.com for $12.60 in paperback or $9.99 for a Kindle version.

As a grandparent, you are a step removed from your grandchildren’s mealtime. However, a few ideas popped into my head as I read this book. Here are some ideas that grandparents can do:

  • Take a cooking class with a grandchild.
  • Make sure you include grandchildren in fixing meals when they come to your home.
  • Establish a cooking/baking tradition — making sugar cookies for Valentine’s Day, making gingerbread houses at Christmas, fixing a healthy salad for the 4th of July.
  • Give your grandchild cooking items that he could use at home — a special spoon for serving a salad, a special oven mitt to get hot things out of the oven, a spatula that can withstand high temperatures.
  • Spend time searching together online for recipes. Then, make the dish together.
  • Invite a grandchild for dinner for her birthday (with you and grandpa) where the grandchild selects the menu and helps to prepare one of the dishes.
  • When eating meals with a grandchild, be prepared with interesting topics to introduce into the conversation. Make conversation fun, light, and entertaining.

(Disclaimer: I was given a free copy of this book to review. However, that did not influence my opnion of it in any way.)

P.S. Remember that I am having a link party on my site on Wednesday through Friday evening. You are invited to join in the fun and post your link.

This post linked to the GRAND Social, Table Party of Two, and A Mama’s Story.

11 thoughts on “Home for Dinner

  • Nina Lewis Post author

    Hi Jann,

    I would be thrilled to attend your luncheon. However, I will be flying out on the 27 to a conference for work. Rats!!!! I hope you have a good turnout!


  • Jann Olson

    I’ve always thought that the family that eats together stays together! lol! Great idea to read at breakfast. Never thought of doing that. Thanks for sharing with SYC.
    p.s. Nina, I am hosting a bloggers ‘meet and greet’ on June 27th. Would love if you were able to come! It’s at 1 and lunch will be served. If you can come could you send me your address?

  • Nina Lewis Post author

    Hi April,

    Varying schedules sure make it hard to eat together as a family. I feel your pain — and remember those crazy, hectic days. I guess we can take comfort in the fact that we ate dinners together when our kids were young, huh?


  • April J Harris

    Family meals are very important to my family. My husband works long hours and our son is 22 now and works as a manager so often has long hours too. Our days start too early to have breakfast together, however even if we wait until 9pm (or later!) for our evening meal, we eat together. I believe that gathering round the table is the key to happy family – both as the family unit and as individuals. Home for Dinner sounds like a very interesting book. Thank you for sharing it with us at Hearth and Soul.

  • Nina Lewis Post author


    I love my mom’s spaghetti, too! It’s the best ever. Somehow, mine never turns out as good as hers. Sigh. Thanks for dropping by.


  • Joann Woolley

    For better mental health alone is good enough reason ; ) We have chaotic sports schedules but we eat dinner together as a family most nights and I hope to look back and say “that paid off big time!”

  • Brittany

    Sounds like a great read. I have fond memories of family dinners in my house growing up (and I loved my mom’s spaghetti too – I still request it when I visit!). Thanks for sharing at the #HomeMattersParty 🙂

  • Nina Lewis Post author

    Hi Pat,

    It gets rather crazy with kids going to piano lessons, soccer, basketball practice, and such! I’m glad your children are carrying on your example of eating together as a family!

    All the best,

  • Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti

    Fabulous article and tips.
    When my children were growing up we were very fortunate to have family dinner together every night, with little exceptions. They have such good memories of this that they are making sure to do the same with their children.

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