What Time Do You Eat Dinner?

What time do you eat dinner?

My grandparents, who live in Delray Beach, Florida, are definite Early Birders. And having spent my teenage years in Boca Raton, I was familiar with the early dinner. My parents usually eat, on weeknights, around 6 o’clock when my dad gets home from work. Craig and I eat later than that, closer to 7:30. Craig has a later lunch than I do so he gets hungrier later than I do. Which is why I can justify a scone or a cookie at 4:30, to keep me full until Craig’s ready for dinner. It’s a survival strategy.

Then there are those who eat much later; 8 o’clockers, even 9 o’clockers. That’s very European. Most popular restaurants offer reservations at 10:30 for those who can’t score a table at a more reasonable hour. If I remember correctly, when I went with Clotilde to Babbo we ate at 10:30. (Sorry, pictures in that post don’t work any more.) That’s a rather obscene hour to eat dinner but if you must, you must.

Does the time that you eat dinner reveal something about your character? Are early diners more conservative that later diners? Are later diners more hedonistic than early diners? Is there a perfect time to eat dinner? If there is, I’d say it’s 7:30 for dinner at home (so you can watch Jeopardy first) and 8:30 for dinner out (so you make an evening out of it).

Which leads us back to the original question: what time do you eat dinner? And what, if anything, does it say about you?

56 thoughts on “What Time Do You Eat Dinner?”

  1. My husband and I have agreed that we will never eat at “old people’s hours.” So, never before 7 and closer to 8-8:30 on weekends.

  2. Growing up we always ate when dad got home from work – which was around 6pm. When I lived in MN – we always ate lunch early which also corresponded to earlier dinner times. Since relocating to California last year – I’ve noticed that everything starts later. People come into work later, eat lunch later, and then dinner later. Our dinner times have slowly migrated closer to 8pm.

  3. Growing up, we were all involved in so many activities, we always ate super late. 9ish.

    Now, by the time I get home from the gym, shower, and relax a bit, it’s usually 8 or 8:15 before I eat. But it’s also just me so I can eat when I’m hungry. :)

  4. Abbe @ Abbe's Cooking Antics

    6 – 7pm on a week night when eating at home. Whenever we feel like it at the weekend, and when eatingout – any time from 7.30 – 9.30, depending on what the occasion is, or if there even is one. It’s 6.30pm right now and I am absolutely starving. I may eat the dog if Hubby doesn’t get his arse in gear and walk in the door within the next 10 minutes.

  5. When I was a kid it was around 6:30. Dad would come home from work, change out of his suit, we’d play outside for a bit, and the five of us would sit together with the tv off and only milk as an acceptable beverage.

    I try to time dinner so that it’s ready by 7:30, but more often than not we eat at 8:00/8:30.

  6. I think I prefer early at home. Around 5 pm. More sofa time and less time into the late evening spent cleaning up. If I’m eating out I prefer later—what’s the rush? When I was a kid we ate early, too, after my dad got home from work about 4:30 (he went to work around sun-up time).

  7. Growing up we never really ate before 8, neither of my parents would be home before 6:30, so there wasn’t really another option. Now I typically eat between 8:30 and 9:00.

  8. By 7 pm on a weeknight, by about 8 on a weekend. Except for Sunday – we eat early on Sunday – by 6 at the very latest. Big meal, and we like to walk, etc afterwards, so eating early suits us best on Sunday.

  9. We eat when my husband comes home, around 5:45-6:00. Even on weekends, if we dine out, we prefer to eat no later than 6:00. Neither of us like to go to bed on full stomachs.

  10. It depends. Most of the time I have two dinners. I have a small, tapas style dinner right when I get home from work as my husband also eats a late lunch and I can’t hold out any longer. In the summer we then eat a normal dinner around 9 as we spend so much time outside. In the winter, dinner time is usually at 7-730ish.

  11. I eat dinner between 5:00 and 5:30 and that’s the last thing I eat for the day. Then, from about 6:00 – 8:00 I enjoy a fine cigar.

  12. When I was growing up in Indiana, we ate very early 4:30 – 5 pm, as my dad worked at a factory and was hungry after getting home at 3:30. My husband and I lived between New York and Boston for ten years, and our dinner time was definitely later, between 8 – 9 pm. We live in London now, and eat at about the same time, but have found that we have to adjust when we are traveling depending on what the local country’s customs are (particularly Spain where you can’t hardly get dinner before 9 pm).

  13. We usually eat dinner at about 8:30 or 9. What it says about me is that we both work a full day and like to do some things at home and maybe relax a little before I get down to business cooking.

  14. I don’t get out work until 6pm (that is, if I am leaving right on the dot). I get off the train at 6:30, work out from 6:45 to 7:45, and get home by 8pm. As such, I don’t end up eating dinner before 8:30 or 9pm.

  15. sweetfrancaise

    Between 7:30-8:30pm for me, depending on when the sun (finally) goes down or when I’m home from work. I hate eating an early dinner–you’re hungry again before bed and it feels like the day’s cut short. Dinner’s nearly always the best part! Then again, I’m nearly always up until 2am so a later meal works well for me.

  16. Living in Alaska with the length of day changing so dramatically from summer to winter our daily schedule varies as well. During the summer months we are lucky to eat dinner by 10:00 p.m., but in the winter I can barely keep my eyes open past 8:00 so dinner is usually closer to 6:00.

  17. Before kids we always ate late. 8 or 8:30PM. Now it is earlier but also seasonal. We eat earlier in the winter when it is cold (who am I kidding I live in California) and it is dark. In the summer we linger outside sometimes until 9PM before coming in starving.

  18. Matt Casserly

    Man, am I the only one that ate before 6 p.m. on a regular basis prior to having a kid? My wife and I used to eat sometime between 5:30 and 6 because we’d both get home between 4 and 5. Now that we have a kid, we have to wait til she falls asleep, and we eat after that. Usually around 7. I’m famished at that point. It’s embarrassing.

  19. I don’t usually eat lunch at work, so when I got home around 5 or 6 I’m pretty hungry and ready to eat.

  20. Except in the summer, usually between 5 and 6. Everyone in my house is a teacher or a student, so we all get home early and are hungry. I also don’t like going to bed full. Summer schedule is a little looser and later.

  21. I’m from Portugal so as Europeans we usually have late dinners even during weekdays. For those like me that start working at 8-8h30 (as most people here do) we have breakfast at 7-7h30am (considering a 45min-1h drive from home to work), lunch from 12h-13h30, a (healthy??) snack in the afternoon (16h-17h athough I admit most people must skip this meal) and dinner is never before 20h. Weekends tend do be ever later, but not always. I think the differences have to do with “sleep schedules”. We rarely go to bed before 23h, which means we don’t go to bed with full stomach and still get at least 7h sleep :)

  22. when I’m hungry, except when I’m going out to eat. Dinner out is usually 8 or later. And I hate nothing more than going out to eat when I’m not hungry, but it happens–often.

  23. It definitely depends on the company I’m with, some friends like an extremely early dinner of 6 pm, whereas some friends prefer a later meal time. I personally tend to eat around 8 or even 9 pm!

  24. I’ll start prepping dinner as soon as the evening news is over, 7:00 pm. Depending on what I’m making it could be anywhere from 7:30 to 9:00. Don’t you just hate going over to someone’s house for Easter, Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner at 2:00 in the afternoon? That’s lunch for me!

    1. Thank you! I have this argument with my boyfriend every year – it’s not Thanksgiving “dinner” if you eat it for LUNCH!

    2. Me too. My aunt & uncle insist on NOON holiday “dinners,” with wine and all when at that time, even though I’d have been up hours, I still want coffee and breakfast. That’s too early for a holiday dinner but 2-4p is perfect to me.

  25. I’ll start prepping dinner as soon as the evening news is over, 7:00 pm. Depending on what I’m making it could be anywhere from 7:30 to 9:00. Don’t you just hate going over to someone’s house for Easter, Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner at 2:00 in the afternoon? That’s lunch for me!

  26. Just reset my dinner time to before 6 so my meal has time to digest before I go to sleep. Have decided to make bed by 9 a priority as well, as I really feel the difference in my day when I am well-rested.

  27. I´m from Europe, the Netherlands. Dutch people eat early: for weekdays this is at 6:00, and when going out for dinner it will usually be around 7-7:30. I think eating times in Europe vary quite a bit. The more south, the higher the temperature, the more different the every-day routine thus the later people will eat. Whereas more north, evenings get chilly rather early, people spend more time indoors and thus mostly eat earlier in the evening. Whereas my husband and I normally eat between 6 and 6:30, we ealisy adapt to later eating times when we´re spending holidays in a warmer climate.

  28. I always ate between 6-6.30 as a kid and the habit has stuck. I get really grouchy and tired if I have to wait til 8 or later to eat, but at weekends it does usually end up being after 7-7.30, which works fine :-) I’m a real early bird tho and tend to eat most meals on the early side…so maybe I am dull and conservative?! Shame…

  29. Catherine Sumner

    Sometime between 8:30 -9:30, usually. I don’t get home from work until 7 and my husband even later, and I can’t stand starting dinner prep the second I walk in the door. If eating out, my ideal reservation time is 8 or 8:30.

  30. It is important to me to eat dinner with my husband – but he’s a lawyer. So we we eat at 9 or 9:30. And I usually have a snack when I get home from work at about 6:30. Growing up we were a 5:30 family which seems insane to me now! When we eat out on the weekends we aim for a 9pm dinner reservation, but often settle for 10pm.

  31. Ideally, I’d eat at 5:30, the time we always ate supper growing up. But my partner doesn’t get home until 6 or 6:30, so we don’t eat until 7 or 7:30. Consequently, I have a substantial snack around 4. I get really cranky when I’m hungry.

    Also, “dinner” was the mid-day meal and “supper” was the evening meal where I grew up. So holiday dinners at 2 or 3 make complete sense.

  32. Weekdays I work until 6, have one square of Amedei dark chocolate before going to the gym, and am usually starting to make dinner by 8:30pm if we’re lucky. I’m thrilled if I can get it on the table by 9pm (and not so thrilled when my boyfriend gets a call exactly one minute after I’ve put down our plates)(but I am learning to just start eating no matter how rude and wrong that feels). On the weekends we always dream big of eating by 8 but have a bad track record of succeeding. If we eat a big breakfast late near noon then sometimes we’ll manage to eat earlier but there’s always something to get in the way of starting as early as you want to. Although my preference when eating out is to make res at 7:30pm, so I can enjoy a drink and order so I’m eating close to my ideal time of 8pm. The secret to being able to wait, however, whatever day it is, is that square of chocolate – make it the best dark you can find and you will be so satisfied you can make it through the workout. In fact, I’m thinking about it now!

  33. We eat around 7. When it was my 50th Birthday we went to York (UK) for the weekend and we ate out on my birthday at around 7 in a very nice (posh) restaurant, which served tiny portions of exquisite food. Three hours later we found ourselves in an Indian restaurant eating equally (but less pretentious) delicious food. Time is not an issue. Appetite and greed is what drives people to eat! : )

  34. We eat between 5 and 7:30 p.m. It depends on when we both get home and if we’re eating leftovers or need to cook something fresh.

  35. By 7pm on weeknights because I like to do what needs doing first and I need to leave some time to digest before bed, and between 6-8+ on weekends depending on what else is going on and what’s for dinner.

  36. Kathi Petersen

    I struggle with this all the time. We generally eat between 8-9, but sometimes at 10, and once last week at 10:45! Nuts! (I found this blog because I just bought “Secrets of the Best Chefs” … haven’t open the cover yet, I can’t wait! Thanks!

  37. My husband and I go to a martial arts class three nights a week, and eat when we get home, so it’s usually close to 9. On the other days is varies, but we rarely eat early.

  38. When I’m alone I’ll usually make dinner right after I get home, around 6:30, to avoid filling up on snacks. If my boyfriend’s home it can easily get 9 or even later before we eat. He’ll start cooking around 8 and we’ll chat and have a glass of wine and some nibbles until the food’s ready.

  39. We’re extreme nightowls with a weird schedule. My husband wakes up around noon and heads into work sometime between 12:30-2pm. Our toddler and I wake up around 2pm, eat “breakfast”, and then we all have “dinner” together sometime between 8:30-10:30. My husband doesn’t usually have all of his hours in before coming home for dinner, so he works a few more late at night, between midnight and 3am. Hubby and I are often good with 2 meals/day, but our son usually takes an extra one. Our son goes to bed around 2am, and we go to bed between 4:30-5:30am, just as the sun starts to rise. It sounds insane to most people, but it comes totally naturally to us and works well in our family. I don’t understand morning people any more than they understand me (which is to say, not at all). All of this will necessarily have to change when our son starts school in a few years. Dreading that! Love vacationing in places like Buenos Aires, where dinners routinely start at 10 or even later.

  40. Asking about what time you eat “dinner” is a loaded question for people in certain parts of the country, especially older people. I grew up in the mountains of eastern Kentucky and dinner was the noon meal, if my great grandparents invited you over to dinner they meant lunchtime. Supper was the name for an evening meal. I once asked why they didn’t just call it lunch and was told if you cooked a meal it was dinner ,if you had sandwhiches then it was lunch. But to answer your question I like eating dinner (supper) at around 6 pm.

  41. As a professor, I am at the university by 7 am, breakfast is as 6 am after workout. With this early schedule, I need dinner by 6 pm which is just after husband comes home from his practice. Weekends are for whenever we feel like eating…no set schedule as our week days are rigid. I find that eating early keeps my weight down…just an observation over the years.

  42. Just had a huge argument with my parents (75 years old) about this one. In fact its going on day 2 now and still arguing. Apparently, dinner for the ‘old people’ which I’m told I’ve not been around many, is at 2pm. I’m almost 50 years old and was always under the impression dinner was between 5pm and 6:30pm. You may be thinking that their 2pm reference is really to ‘lunch.’ Nope, its the last meal of the day that they’re going to eat, 2pm. Why you might wonder is this such a big deal. Because when you decide on a time to arrive for ‘dinner’ you better know what the actual time is particularly if its around the holidays.

  43. We always eat around 4:30 – only because we are all up so early… I’m up at 3:45 a.m. and my husband is up by 5:00 a.m. Plus most of the time none of us eat lunch….or very little for lunch..
    On Sundays with family we usually eat around 4:00 p.m., but don’t clean up until 5:30 or 6:00 with dessert ending it all! Plus we are all in bed by 9:00 p.m!

  44. I have my dinner between 8:30-10:30 pm. You can say I follow the European Way. The reason I do that is because you won’t be able to eat a lot. Thus, you must “eat light every night”. Trust me, it works and I love doing it. I am not sure how much some Europeans eat at those hours, but to me I rather eat less. Not too less but the right mount depending on how much my body needs. I admit, I am such European although I am not.

  45. I invented and sell a type of plates that keep food hot (Patented); baby boomers seem to love them. You can enjoy food slowly and avoid overeating before going to bed. Google: “Plates That Keep Food Hot”

  46. i am from India. I remember when i was a kid….in th 1990s we had dinner at 9:00 pm….But now in 2015, due to change in lifestyle (facebook, gaming, mobile in hand all the time) we have dinner everyday at 10pm. I remember my mother telling us that they would have dinner at 8:30 in their days. So i guess slowly its getting late as time change

  47. Chris Cooling

    People start having a lot more digestive and health issues when they get older. Even a regular meal may irritate your system after bedtime. You start having a list of foods you no longer eat at dinner. Add to this, many oldsters go to bed by 10-10:30; and a 4pm dinner doesn’t seem so outrageous anymore

  48. In The Netherlands, where I live, hardly anyone is having dinner after 7pm. Restaurant reservations after 7pm are pretty rare too. Even in summer weekends, most people stick to 6pm or 6.30pm. One of the reasons is the cold and (relatively) poor lunch. Many people get hungry before the start of the evening.

    I have adopted the French way of life. On a normal day I start dinner between 8pm and 8.30pm. Depending on activities (running/swimming) I have my dinner at a later time.

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