Well, we have all heard it before and according to the research team from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, about 40% of the average family’s budget is spent eating out, typically not together. No wonder kids are making poorer food choices! — restaurant and prepared foods tend to be much fattier, saltier and higher in calories than meals made at home.\r\nAs a family of 7, it’s very difficult to actually sit down and share mealtime, so we do our best to make time. We try to eat at least 1-2 meals a day as a family. Some meals are not made in our kitchen, and we also fall into the fast paced rut of a “soccer, basketball, football, baseball, swimming, boating, hiking, skiing” family. But we try to share breakfast and dinner. (And yes, we DO eat foods other than pancakes).\r\nThe Rutgers data suggested that family mealtime has a wealth of health benefits, especially for children. Kids who ate more meals together with their families tended to eat more fruits, vegetables, fiber, calcium-rich foods, and vitamins, and ate less junk food. Teenagers who ate dinner with their families tend to get into less trouble with drugs and alcohol, were more likely to show fewer signs of depression and feel that their family was more supportive.\r\nWe are information junkies and that bit of research reassures us that we are doing something right (at least at mealtime). In the mean time, our entire house is like one large research facility and there is always new findings… especially of dirty socks hidden in places where you wouldn’t imagine.