Objective: The purpose of this study was to discover how college students conduct dinner groups and students' perceptions of the benefits and difficulties of participation.

Design: Qualitative study conducted with seven focus groups.

Setting: A university campus.

Participants: Thirty-six college students participating in dinner groups. Dinner groups were defined as a group of ≥3 people cooking for each other (or together) and eating together ≥4 times a week.

Analysis: The focus groups were recorded, transcribed, coded, and reconciled. NUDIST® NVivo software was used in identifying themes and subthemes.

Results: Dinner groups were composed of roommates and/or other students living nearby. They rotated who made each dinner. Benefits identified included social interaction, increasing confidence in cooking, saving money and time, and eating more varied and healthier foods. Difficulties were mentioned but were much less common. They included increased time spent on days the student cooked and stresses related to cooking on a schedule. Students found that the benefits far outweighed the difficulties and universally wanted to continue in a dinner group.

Conclusions and Implications: College students enjoy dinner groups and promoting them may be an option for improving college students' eating habits. Nearly all students felt that they ate better in a dinner group but research is needed to assess actual intake.



College and Department

Life Sciences; Nutrition, Dietetics, and Food Science



Date Submitted


Document Type





nutrition, dinner groups, young adults, focus groups