4 Great Reasons Families Should Eat at Home More
Families with teens are BUSY! Between school, homework, part-time jobs, dates, time with friends, and extracurricular activities, adolescents are always on the go. Sometimes it’s hard to coordinate parents and teens to be in the house together for more than a few minutes! Since our families are so busy, many of us understandably turn to eating out at restaurants and fast food for dinner. It is definitely convenient and can save time. But today’s blog offers an alternate viewpoint to fight this trend, because there are 4 great reasons that families should eat at home more.
- Better for your family’s health.
Research shows that ALL restaurants, not just fast food, deliver some very unhealthy problems to its consumers:
- Restaurant meals are notoriously high in calories, sugars, fats, salt, and carbohydrates. Even the healthier, low-cal options can contain a very high level of sugars and fats.
- The portions are extremely large, which encourages overeating, leading to obesity.
- A new study found that food prepared in restaurants have large amounts of a harmful chemical called phthalates. These chemicals disrupt hormones, cause fertility problems, and have been linked to birth defects, asthma, neurological problems, cardiovascular issues and even cancer. The study found that the phthalate levels of participants who had eaten at restaurants in the previous day were 35% higher than those who reported eating food purchased at the grocery store.
When you prepare your own food, you can cut out what you don’t want in your diet. You can create delicious meals that reduce sugar, fats and salt. Portion control is easier to maintain. You can also use more foods that have the vitamins and minerals your individual body may need most.
- Improved family dynamics.
Research has shown many benefits for families that eat a home-cooked meal together:
- Families talk more when they sit together for meals. Parents are more likely to hear about problems in their kids’ lives, and teens are more likely to feel their parents are interested in them.
- Studies show that there is less tension in homes where families eat together, and teens are less likely to exhibit behavior problems. Research also shows that eating at home together is associated with fewer psychological issues and increased sociability in the family.
- Teens are less likely to be overweight and more likely to eat healthy food.
- Statistically, children who enjoy regular family meals have better grades and academic achievement.
- Studies show that family meals actually reduce the chance that teens will use drugs. For example, a recent CASA report states that teens who have fewer than three family dinners a week are 3.5 times more likely to have abused prescription drugs or other illegal opiates, 3 times more likely to have used marijuana, 2.5 times more likely to have smoked cigarettes, and 1.5 times more likely to have tried alcohol.
- Improved food safety and cleanliness.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, foodborne illnesses affect 1 in 6 Americans every year. By cooking at home, you can ensure that you have the freshest ingredients, that the food has been stored and cooked at the correct temperatures, that you have handled the food properly, and that your ingredients and cooking surfaces are clean.
- Reduced expenses.
Eating dinner out is expensive! It is a lot more cost-effective to purchase groceries. Eating at home will bring about substantial savings in the long run.
So perhaps you are thinking you would LIKE to eat dinner together more often, but you just can’t fit it in your busy schedules. Keep it simple – family meals do not have to be elaborate. Here are a couple of tips:
- Schedule a day once a week to do your meal planning and make your grocery list.
- Pick one night a week to have a designated meal, such as Taco Tuesday or Sandwich Saturday.
- Get the family involved. Everyone can pitch in to help prepare meals and set the table.
- Use the crockpot. Put everything together before leaving for work in the morning.
- Cook a big batch of soup or a double batch of a casserole over the weekend, and then freeze some for weekday leftovers.
- If getting to the grocery store is the challenge, use one of the many pickup services available. Many grocery stores offer a personal shopping service – you choose your groceries online and then show up at the store to pick it up at a time of your choosing.