Pictured recipe:Alphabet Soup

You know that time spent together as a family is important—and also that sharing regular meals together is particularly beneficial. But just how valuable is it that you all gather around one table and eat together? Because life is busy—and between your work, after-school kid activities, picky eaters, and the stress of putting together a real meal—being a short-order cook and eating over the kitchen sink actually might sound semi-appealing. Truth be told, differing schedules is the top reason why families—with and without kids—don't eat together at home, per a Food Marketing Institute Foundation white paper.

"Gathering around the table is an important part of connecting as a family, and in the last decade, studies have proven what some parents always have suspected: Family dinners are important," says Liz Weiss, MS, RDN and the voice behind the family food podcast and blog, Liz's Healthy Table.

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