Pam Packer refills cheese during Dream Dinners' Make and Take Event Wednesday, Sept. 21. The event was held to encourage parents to prepare for National Family Day, a Day to Eat Dinner With Your Children.

Allison Hurtado/AFN

Eating dinner as a family can have many positive effects on children and that's why Dream Dinners is encouraging everyone to celebrate National Family Day on Monday.

"It just fits so perfectly with what we do and it was important to us to open it up to the community and really get the word out about this important day, and provide a dinner for them to serve to their family on that night," said Laura Prefling, co-owner of the Ahwatukee Foothills location.

Dream Dinners opened its doors for a special night on Wednesday to invite families to prepare a meal for National Family Day, and also to meet the co-founder of Dream Dinners, Stephanie Allen, who was available to sign copies of her newly released book, "The Hour That Matters Most."

"We're trying to compliment Dream Dinners," Allen said. "We're finding that there are a lot of younger moms who were raised by the first moms of the ‘super mom generation.' These younger moms were raised, for the most part, in the back of a car on their way home from swimming lessons or soccer practice, and now they're raising kids and they really don't know how to have a home-cooked dinner.

"We focused not only on the premise of why it's important, because everyone knows it's important, we emphasize how. We put in practical advice, tips, conversation starters, how to get your kids to the dinner table, how to avoid conflict, and all of that makes for a good home-cooked dinner.

Families don't need to eat at home every night, but if you can get kids to eat at home two to five times a week it's incredible what that can do."

National Family Day, a Day to Eat Dinner With Your Children, is a national movement launched by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse to encourage parents to do just that. The idea is to celebrate at least once a year engaging with your family at the dinner table.

Many studies have been done on families that eat dinner together. A study in the Archives of Family Medicine found that children who regularly dine with their families eat better by consuming less fat and fewer fried foods, and eating more fruits and vegetables.

A study in The Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine found that frequent family meals were associated with a lower risk of smoking, drinking and using marijuana; a lower incidence of depressive symptoms and suicidal thoughts; and with better grades.

Other studies have found that teens that had dinner with their parents were less likely to be sexually active, and less likely to have eating disorders.

"What's really interesting to me is since we opened the doors of our first location five years ago, the ads on TV have definitely gone the direction of family dinners," Prefling said. "Lots of fast food places are encouraging picking up a meal and eating it at home at the dinner table. That's fantastic. It doesn't matter so much what you're eating, just that you're doing it."

Dinners made at Dream Dinners are healthier than the average fast-food meal. Busy parents are encouraged to make an appointment online at to come to a location and prepare a minimum of 12 meals. The meals are all designed to be placed in the freezer and cooked throughout the month.

"I hope people become aware of National Family Day and that we're here to make it easier," Prefling said. "We want to make it easy for people, who are all so busy, to have a good meal. It's amazing what that time at the table can do. If people knew that they would be rushing back to the dinner table."

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