Trends: All in the Family

Studies prove that dining together keeps kids healthy—and safe.

After sports practices and commutes and full-time jobs, sit-down dinners were just another obligation for the Bontempos—until mom Donna discovered FamilyTimeFun Dinner Games. The set of stainproof cards, created by Franklin’s John Pandiscio, contains memory, vocabulary, and just plain silly games that make family dinners more fun. “The cards promote a lot of laughter, a lot of interaction, and it’s a great way for us to relax at the end of the day,” says Bontempo.

By fostering open lines of communication between parents and children, family meals may also help improve grades and keep kids out of trouble. According to a Harvard Graduate School of Education study, dinner table talk improves literacy development among preschoolers. Teens who regularly eat dinner with their families are nearly 40 percent likelier to get As and Bs in school, say researchers at Columbia University, and are less likely to do drugs, smoke marijuana or cigarettes, and abuse alcohol than those who sit down with their family two or fewer nights per week.

Where FamilyTimeFun Dinner Games aim to keep kids at the table, Cape Cod–based DinnerDudes helps you get them involved in cooking. Cofounder Matt Landon, an investment consultant by day, got the idea when he asked friend Eric Jansen, chef and co-owner at Wellfleet restaurant the Wicked Oyster, for help creating simple, nutritious meals at home. Within a few months, the pair realized they were on to something. For $5.95 a month, subscribers get a weekly e-mail with advice on preparing five healthy dinners, such as this month’s baked shells with pesto, in just 30 minutes. In addition to recipes, each e-mail offers a grocery list and step-by-step instructions that cut down on shopping and cooking time, plus nutritional information.

All of which make it easier than ever to get the family to the table. How you convince your kids to eat their Brussels sprouts once they’re there is still up to you.

>> For more information on FamilyTimeFun Dinner Games, visit Subscribe to DinnerDudes at