How often do you prepare meals at home? If you’re like most Americans, home cooking just doesn’t happen very often, maybe a few times a week at most. In just the past few decades, the number of meals Americans eat at home (regardless of family size or income) has decreased. Only around 45% of households cook at least one meal a day at home!
Compared to people in other countries, particularly European countries, Americans like eating fast, don’t savor meal preparation, and don’t focus on eating (preferring to watch television while they eat instead). Think about these sobering facts:
Only 55% of Americans eat breakfast at home.
When we do eat our dinner at home, it’s more likely to come from a restaurant or come pre-packaged in the frozen aisle than to be made from scratch.
And by 2020, spending on restaurant food is expected to jump 18% from 2000 levels.
As a nation we have simply become unaccustomed to preparing meals from scratch at home.
The benefits of cooking at home are many:
- saving money
- control over the ingredients and quality
- protecting the environment (think of how much energy it takes to collect, transport, process, and cook ingredients, then freeze, transport, and re-cook a frozen meal)
- bonding with family
- connecting with your food (imagine Grandma’s comfort food!)
- living longer (50% better chance than people who don’t cook at home)
Constantly taking the family out to eat also means that children don’t get used to cooking at home. When they grow up and go to college, cooking seems daunting and time-consuming, whereas hitting the fast food place down the road brings immediate satisfaction. By involving children in cooking, you can help them learn more about where fresh food comes from, keep them from being intimidated by cooking, and help them become confident in their cooking skills later in life.
Tips for cooking at home:
- Cook more than you need, so you can freeze the rest or eat it for lunch the next day.
- Choose one day, such as Sunday, to get all your shopping and meal planning done for the week.
- Chop fruits and veggies ahead of time the same day you buy them; then you can just eat them or throw them on the stove whenever you like. (Berries are the exception; wash only when eating.)
- Use frozen veggies or fruits when you don’t feel like prepping.
- Get the kids involved in washing and chopping vegetables and choosing meals that are nutritious.