How Do Parents Spell Stress? D-I-N-N-E-R

Applegate Survey Finds Vast Majority Say Family Meal Time a Challenge

Jan 27, 2014, 08:00 ET from Applegate

BRIDGEWATER, N.J., Jan. 27, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- With a new year full of resolutions on health and happiness well underway – and perhaps already broken, a new family mealtime survey shows that while 54 percent of parents think spending more time at family meals is a pledge worth considering, 78 percent feel getting it's not an easy promise to keep.

The survey sponsored by Applegate, the leading producer of organic and natural meats, also found that a whopping 89 percent of parents feel that it's important to share a meal as a family at least a few times a week. Despite the consensus, parents cited lack of time (43 percent) and inspiration (42 percent) and family member food fussiness (39 percent) as the snags that turn a sit down mealtime into an on-the-go meltdown.

"This survey crystallizes the differences between the aspirations and realities all families face," says Jenny Rosenstrach, founding editor of Dinner: A Love Story, a website devoted to helping parents figure out how to get family dinner on the table. "Unfortunately, there's isn't an easy answer to figuring out this dilemma, but one thing is certain, you've got to leave illusions of perfection at the kitchen door."

Rosenstrach, the mother of two, started DALS four years ago and released a companion cookbook in 2012.  And although Rosenstrach, who also writes a column for Bon Appetit magazine, says she can't promise figuring out family dinner in "five easy steps," there are a few things to keep in mind that can make resolving to eat more meals together more happy than hassle:

  • Start small, start slow:  Just like any other resolution, if you start with pie in the sky, you usually end up with egg on your face. Don't set yourself up for failure by committing to only from-scratch, three-course meals five nights a week.  Think about your family's lifestyle and schedule and be realistic.
  • Think beyond dinner:  Who says the family meal you share has to be dinner?  Maybe breakfast is more your brood's thing and fits more easily into the day.  How about lunch on the weekends.  When you throw in breakfast and lunch as options, you're giving yourself 14 more chances for family together time every week.
  • A little muss, no fuss: Making four completely different meals for the family can be a recipe for disaster in keeping the more mealtime resolution.  But choosing a base component to the meal with some minor alterations can be a win-win for everyone.  For example, a pasta dish with two different sauces, like Rosenstrach's Orrechiette with Sausage and Crispy Broccoli.  
  • Mix and match: Don't be afraid to throw in high-quality convenience foods into your family meal routine. If a pre-cooked dinner sausage sliced into a soup gets a meal that everyone will eat onto the table, go for it.

For recipes that help with family mealtime resolutions, visit or

More Survey Results
Despite the obstacles in getting family meals together, the Applegate "Meal Stress Test" showed that nearly all parents believe that family meals provide important teachable moments and helps keep the family happy.

  • Can we talk? Almost all parents – 95 percent – said sharing meals regularly improves family communication.
  • Oh, behave! Family meals are a natural training ground to teach children social skills and manners, according to 92 percent of respondents.
  • Better for you. Ninety percent (90 percent) of parents believe regular family meals set an example for healthy eating behaviors and think the meals they prepare at home are healthier than restaurant food.

About the Survey
The survey was conducted using Toluna's On-line Omnibus. Interviews were completed in December 2013. The sample is representative of U.S. adults aged 18+ and is balanced on three key demographics: age, sex, and region of the U.S.  A subset of respondents with the following characteristics were identified specifically for this analysis:

Parents – U.S. adults with at least one child under 18 living at home

Sample sizes and margins of error for this sample group are as follows:

Sample group


Margin of Error



+/- 3.5%

About Applegate
For more than 25 years, Applegate has been producing high-quality natural and organic hot dogs, bacon, sausages, deli meats, cheese and frozen products.  Natural can mean many things, but when Applegate says their products are natural, consumers are guaranteed that the meat inside is:

  • Raised without antibiotics or hormones
  • From animals fed a vegetarian or 100% grass diet and treated with humane animal standards
  • Free of added chemical nitrites, nitrates or phosphates
  • Free of artificial ingredients or preservatives

For more information about our products, visit

SOURCE Applegate