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Newsletter: September 2020

Families are Cooking More. Is Yours One of Them?

Recently, the Guelph Family Health Study — a long-term survey of family life conducted by the University of Guelph in Canada — released new findings about how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting families. A lot of it is predictable, and not great news. For example, researchers found that families have increased screen time and decreased physical activity overall since the beginning of the pandemic. They also found that parents are stressed, which isn’t likely to surprise anyone with kids at home. But there was also good news to share: Families are cooking together more.

According to the study, 70% of families are cooking more during the pandemic, and 60% are making more meals from scratch. Half of the parents surveyed are involving their kids in cooking more often, while 55% of families are eating with their children more regularly. All of these statistics are good news for the families who can enjoy all the benefits of cooking and eating together.

It may not feel like a great time to add new routines to your life, but this is the ideal moment to teach kids the life skills we don’t always have time to develop. Many schools are returning to remote learning or hybrid models this year, and extracurricular options are still in a holding pattern. Kids who are used to having lots of activities, social outings and homework to keep them busy may be feeling the need to do something that provides meaning and structure in the day. So this Fall could be the perfect time to get the whole family involved in planning, cooking and cleaning up from family meals. Investing a little time and effort in getting the kids to take more responsibility in the kitchen might be a lifesaver for parents — and a new outlet for kids who need to feel a sense of purpose right now. After all, the stresses of juggling jobs, pandemic safety, home life and schooling arrangements aren’t likely to ease anytime soon. It’s a good time to start sharing the workload, so parents can cross some things off their to-do lists.

Not sure where to start? Check out these links:

Age-Appropriate Family Dinner Chores for Kids
Adding Competence and Rules into the Mix: Dinner with School-Age Kids
Making the Most of Dinner with Adolescents

Find Your Family Dinner Zen in September

This month, The Family Dinner Project is pleased to be partnering with the Zen of Slow Cooking in honor of Family Meals Month! Together, we’ll be sharing recipes and tips all month long. Follow us on social media using the hashtag #familydinnerzen to see fresh content every week, and keep an eye out for a special contest on Instagram later this month.

Our thanks also go to our friends at Zen, who will be contributing 20% of every purchase made in their online shop this month to our non-profit community programs so we can reach more families.



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Follow Zen of Slow Cooking:

Family of the Month

Speaking of the Zen of Slow Cooking, we’re pleased to feature their founder, Meg Barnhart, and her family in this month’s Real Family Dinner Projects feature!

Real Family Dinner Projects: The Barnhart Family


Let the slow cooker do the work for you with this Zen recipe for balsamic sausages and peppers! You can substitute chicken or veggie sausage, and there are stovetop and pressure cooker adaptations included, too.

Balsamic Sausages and Peppers


Back-to-school time means some families will be thinking about fun ways to boost academic skills. Check out these literacy games and conversation starter ideas!

Family Dinner Improves Literacy


There’s no question that this September comes with a variety of challenges for families. Help everyone rise to the occasion with these conversation starters about grit.