Americans today have been taken in by the fast-food and restaurant industries at the expense of home-cooking and family dinnertime. Fast food and dining out suit busy schedules and over-committed families. It’s important for families to spend time together at mealtimes, by cooking at home, or dining out together. And while there is nothing wrong with eating out every once in a while, home-cooked meals save money, support the local economy and bring families together, among other benefits.
Here are a few of the pros of cooking at home:
Cost Savings – By purchasing ingredients to cook at home, you save money. Restaurants have to pay for rent, staff and numerous other overhead costs that are passed on to the customer and pre-packaged foods have the added costs of packaging and transport. When you cook at home, you cut out those costs to provide meals for you and your family.
Health – Processed meals and fast-food are often full of chemicals, pesticides, and preservatives, which some studies have shown to be detrimental to your health. Cooking at home gives you greater control of what you’re putting into your body, so that you can make the choices that are most beneficial to you and your family. Also, you have the freedom to prepare food to your own taste and play with the recipes to make something old and worn out new again.
Sustainability – Home cooking supports local farmers and vendors. When you bu y organic or locally-grown food, you are contributing to your community’s economy, which in turn increases investment and development in other areas. Also, you have the opportunity to make use of parts like vegetable trimmings and chicken bones in stocks and other meals.
Family Time – Sitting down around the dinner table over a home-cooked meal is a fantastic way to bring the family together, even if only a few times per week. Let everyone go around the table and tell their favorite story from the week or about events coming up. You might even consider making the cooking part of family time; children love to help out in the kitchen and you can teach them to appreciate home-cooked meals early on while also practicing math skills and following directions.
Studies by Cornell University have even shown that children whose families dine together are 35% less likely to develop eating disorders, 24% more likely to eat healthier foods and 12% less likely to be overweight. Start small with one meal a week. Let your family decide what to cook together. Eventually, cooking and eating together will become a routine the family will look forward to.