Something I'm really passionate about is eating together as a family. Call me old fashioned, but it's important to me that the girls and I gather round the table at the end of every day to eat, and to chat about what we've been up to. Breakfast is always hurried, and we're apart at lunchtime during the week, so dinner is the one meal of the day where we're all reunited and guaranteed to have plenty to talk about.
Although I'm a pretty laid back parent, we do have dinner time rules. Apart from on Fridays (movie night, when we have pizza) we always sit up to the kitchen table to eat. I really think that element of meal time is important. The kids lay the table. Technology is completely banned. We all eat the same meal, and no one leaves the table until we're all finished. My parents implemented the same rules when I was growing up, as did their parents before them (although most likely minus the technology ;)). We all lead such busy lives these days, I really don't understand why anyone wouldn't want to spend half an hour every evening with their family.
And it would seem that my favourite recipe delivery service, HelloFresh, are with me on this. This month sees the launch of the #DinnerTimeChallenge - a campaign to encourage the nation to commit to eating together as a family for thirty days - and they asked the girls and me if we'd help them to promote it. As regular customers of HelloFresh already we were more than happy to take part and to share our thoughts about we think is an absolutely brilliant service.
I'm not the best cook in the world, far from it. However I do appreciate good food, and I love the idea of slaving away over a hot stove (with a glass of wine on the go, of course) preparing a healthy and nutritious meal for my family. But the fact of the matter is I'm a single working mum of two and I don't have the time to do it every single night. And this is why I'm such a fan of HelloFresh. They provide pre-measured ingredients and completely idiot proof step by step instructions for meals that take an average of just 30 minutes to prepare and cook. Last summer I reviewed a two week trial (you can read all about it here) and I've been a paying customer ever since.
Ahead of the launch of their #DinnerTimeChallenge campaign, HelloFresh studied the eating habits of the nation and unearthed two statistics that really bothered me. (You can read the full report over on their blog here).
(1) 50% of British parents do not eat with their children at all. 14% of parents say their children's table manners are so bad that they don't want to eat with them! Fussy eating habits cause arguments.... kids won't stay seated at the table.... these parents claim it's too stressful for the whole family to be together and its easier to let their kids ignore each other and watch TV/a tablet while they're eating instead. 4% of kids even eat dinner on their own in their bedrooms! This literally astounds me and I don't mean to come across all holier than thou but seriously? COME ON parents. Teach your kids table manners! Talk to them! It's half an hour out of your day!
(2) 1 in 5 households eat different foods for dinner. I was a fussy eater as a child / teen. I didn't have any allergies or intolerances - I was just
In short, the research that was commissioned came to the conclusion that busy lives, an addiction to technology, fussy eating habits, poor table manners and a lack of inspiration is leading to the death of dinnertime. That makes me really sad!
And that's where HelloFresh come in. They're the perfect solution for busy households - you get new recipes and ingredients to try each week and they make it super easy (and super quick) to cook up some seriously tasty and healthy dinners.
We're now two weeks into the challenge and have had no problem sticking to it every night so far. We've been receiving the HelloFresh family boxes to help us, which are much bigger (and slightly more expensive) than the classic box for two that we usually get. I have to say though, they are brilliant - so much more economical - as there is enough to make one evening meal and freeze another for later in the week, perfect for those evenings when you really don't have the time or energy to cook something from scratch.
If you want to take a look at the meals we've been cooking, take a look at my Instagram Stories. I've been posting on there daily and will carry on doing so for the duration of the challenge. Our favourite recipe to date has been the honey and mustard glazed pork with lentils..... seriously good AND two of your five a day! Don't forget to search the hashtag on Instagram and Twitter for mealtime inspiration too. Are you joining in? What are your thoughts on family mealtimes?