LANCEWOOD®, South Africa’s No.1 Soft Cheese Brand*, conducted The Quality Time study to gain further insight into the cooking and eating habits of South African families, how much quality time was spent together during mealtimes and what barriers families are facing. The study revealed that 89% of respondents believe that quality time with their family is important. Many indicated that this is not always possible due to our increasingly demanding, fast-paced, modern lifestyles.

2,100 respondents were interviewed online representing families across South Africa. We collaborated with four local experts to provide clarity and insights into the realities of households in their respective fields, adding context to our findings and sharing their simple tips on making the most of family mealtime. The experts are Vanessa Raphaely, Vicki Sleet, Zola Nene and Dr Ilse de Beer. 

Further research findings:

  • Work commitments and commuting are big barriers to families spending time together.
  • 59% stated that lockdown has allowed them to eat together more often and 43% are cooking together more.  
  • Unsurprisingly, Mom is the primary decision-maker when choosing what to cook, at 48%.
  • Almost half (45%) of the respondents spend their mealtimes watching TV or using their phones.

Trouble with tech

“Many of us battle with too much screen-time. We’re all trying to cut down, but none of us have nailed it yet. However, technology isn’t always bad. It is about ensuring a healthy balance,” says Vanessa Raphaely.

Psychologist Dr Ilse de Beer advises, “Parents should encourage quality family time to engage and have fun. It is also important to limit time spent with technology. If we can balance these two things, I think our family structure will develop in a much healthier way.” 

Finding the balance

“A meal doesn’t have to be a formal one. Just having a sandwich together, or even a cup of tea can do wonders to help families bond. There’s something about letting go of everything formal and finding simple and creative ways to spend time together,” says Vanessa Raphaely.

Shereen Anderhold from LANCEWOOD® says, “With our busy and demanding schedules, it’s okay to opt for the quick and easy 15-minute meal in the week because there will be other days where you feel like making your ultimate Sunday lunch with all the bells and whistles. It is about finding the balance that works for you and your family.”

Create a space to eat together

While sitting down for meals at a traditional spot like a dining table or kitchen table may not always be practical, 34% say this is where they spend their mealtimes together. 

“Creating a space in your home to eat and actively clearing your mind to be present also goes a long way in having quality time. Where possible, try and separate your workspace from the area where you eat to help with distinguishing between work time and family time,” says former magazine editor and stylist Vicki Sleet.

Food brings us together

Food is about much more than just nourishment. It is a way of communicating, expressing creativity and creating memories. It is a way to mark a special occasion or offer comfort. Ultimately, food plays
a major role in bringing people together. It is considered ‘bonding time’ by many and a manifestation of love.

“For me, food has always been an expression of love. It’s like presenting your soul on a plate to somebody. It’s the value you put into making sure that somebody enjoys whatever you give them to eat. Food is love – I think everybody thinks this, just to a different degree,” adds chef and food stylist Zola Nene.

Creating quality mealtimes with your family does not have to be daunting.

Shereen Anderhold from LANCEWOOD® concludes, “It’s all about the simple things that can be done to make little moments more special and less mundane, so a good idea is to dial up your creativity and find new ways to serve up old favourites. Planning your meals ahead of time, bulk buying, cooking and freezing meals helps to free up time, maximise your budget and bring back quality mealtimes.”