By Daniel Gillespie // SWNS
Dinnertime now lasts 15 minutes longer in the typical American household than it did before the pandemic began, according to new research.
The survey of 2,004 people found that the average family meal has gone from 70 minutes to 85 minutes now — nearly a 20% increase in length overall.
Additional data showed that almost six in 10 (57%) respondents said 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, the survey found that families are coming together for meals five times a week, compared to four times a week pre-pandemic.
And those mealtimes are becoming more important, with 58% saying it is now the most relaxing part of their day.
Most likely to report this are millennials, with 65% agreeing compared to 36% of baby boomers.
The survey also found that many now consider a close friend (55%), colleague (38%) or neighbor (36%) to be “part of the family.”
More than two-thirds (68%) 2,004 respondents reported adding a new "family member" during the last 18 months, and 43% of those are still including that person in family mealtime.
According to those polled, the most common activities households 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,” said Annie Gately, Senior Brand Manager for Gold Peak. “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 (55%) of parents polled said 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 said. “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.”