Good Home Cooking
More Americans cooking at home, and kids may be healthier for it.
The majority of Americans are dining in more than they used to, says a Harris Interactive poll surveying consumers on their eating habits. With over 70 percent of respondents stating that they find themselves cooking more instead of dining out because they want to save money, the majority (90 percent) also say that when considering where to eat, price plays an important role in their decision, more so than health concerns (56 percent) or even the type of cuisine they would like to have (84 percent).
Although healthy options seem to be less of a concern for at-home diners than finances, researchers from The University of Alberta have found that children who participate in meal preparation are more apt to choose healthier foods.
“Encouraging kids to get involved in meal preparation could be an effective health promotion strategy for schools and parents," lead study author and post-doctoral fellow Yen Li Chu in a public statement.
Parents may find that preparing meals as a family helps encourage healthy habits and cut expenses. Aimee Christian, a NY-based mother of two, says that healthy eating is a great benefit, but at-home dining also offers greater opportunity for family bonding .
“We have breakfast together every day and dinner together most nights as well,” she says. “We talk at the table and don't read or use technology. We're all together.”
As for which kinds of meal offer the best opportunities to save money, Christian says, “Literally everything we eat at home is a moneysaver compared to going out to eat.”
Christian also packs her lunch daily, which is economical and satisfying. "I work in midtown and everything around here is so expensive. There's nothing I could eat out for lunch in a hurry around here that I'd like more than my own cooking anyway!" she contends.
Sticking to less processed items and more whole food ingredients saves money and is healthier, she adds. While grocery bills are higher, the family saves money overall by limiting restaurant fare.
“I buy a lot of grains and legumes in bulk and stock up on frozen vegetables that work in soups and stir fry,” Christian says. “I also make my own soups, salads, dressings, and desserts. I make our baby's food as well—no need to buy jars!”
With a demanding career outside the home, she says that while cooking and baking takes time, she loves it.
“Cooking is really nice downtime for me and reassures me that I'm feeding my family right,” Christian states.
Now, going out to eat is treat and a special occasion, she adds. More than half of Americans (57 percent) agree; according to Harris, they now characterize going out to eat “as a luxury.”
It is often more convenient to dine in, says CA-based Jennifer Sorbello, also a mother of two young children.
“I cook at home instead of go out not to save money, but because it takes less time,” she states. “I hate wasting time in a restaurant waiting for my order to be taken, my drink to arrive, the food to arrive, the bill to arrive. I want to eat and then get on with my life.”
Eating at home has other, unexpected benefits, Sorbello notes.
“It's easier to clean up the kid after he vomits when we're at home,” she adds.
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