Breakfast: The New Family Dinner
Fast Company ran a short article last summer that has stuck with me ever since I read it: “The Delicious Case for Replacing Family Dinners with Family Breakfasts.” The author, Laura Vanderkam, offered a fresh and different perspective on family meals. Instead of killing ourselves to sit down to dinner as a family (or as a couple or as friends), why not make breakfast the family meal?
She cites two studies that point to fewer than 50% of American families regularly sitting down to eat dinner together, which isn’t surprising in our perpetually over-scheduled and multi-tasking Western world. And when they do sit down, it can be a struggle. My family, for example, tries really, really hard to sit down together most nights. But it would be a lie to say these meals are without stress, frenzy, and way too many battles over beautifully presented and wholly rejected vegetables.
Breakfast is a different story. It tends to be easier to be home for breakfast (or headed home post-morning workout). There’s coffee involved (for the grown-ups). We generally feel optimistic and ready to start off the day on the right foot, versus bogged down from the day’s events. And to sweeten the deal, breakfast food is fast and delicious and nutritious and well, pretty uncontroversial.
With a bit of time to spare (because my kids woke up long before the sun did), I treated this morning’s breakfast in our house like a family dinner: placemats, no distractions, and everyone sitting together. We ate in peace, devouring an egg/ham/spinach/cheese scramble and a banana/berry/spinach/carrot smoothie free of any complaining or fidgeting or baggage from the day. We talked about what the day might bring. The devices stayed turned off. We giggled. And at the end of the meal, my belly felt full, my soul felt whole, and I felt grounded.
Everyone’s schedules and rituals and circadian rhythms are different, so making breakfast the new family dinner may not work for every person/family. But I love the spirit of it. Why not re-frame our expectations of what family/relationship time is and when it happens — focusing on quality, not when or how we get there?
When you’re ready to belly up to the family breakfast table, here are five breakfast ideas I love:
Morning Scramble (eggs, chicken sausage, spinach, red pepper, sprinkle of cheese)
Lastly, if you’re looking for a solid foundation for great family eating habits in general, check out this post I read earlier today: 10 Eating Rules French Children Know (But Most Americans Don’t). It includes some fantastic reminders for all of us (not just the kids).