Creating meals together helps to strengthen family bonds.
Mothers and daughters baking together, fathers and sons grilling in the backyard… these images can be seen on advertisements, in movies and maybe in your own memory.
But today, the thought of cooking dinner with the entire family seems less and less realistic, with buys jobs, after school activities, and just taking the time to grocery shop. Sadly, as family time in the kitchen deteriorates, so does you and your family’s health, not to mention your food budget.
When families make time to cook and eat meals together, not only do family ties and social skills grow, but families also tend to eat slower, paying more attention to their hunger cues. Numerous studies have also shed light on how eating with family members can help children develop healthy relationships with food and may even decrease the likelihood of substance abuse.
A study published in the 2008 “Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine,” uncovered that eating family meals helped reduce the occurrence of eating disorders among adolescent girls. At the same time, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration estimates that family members who rarely sit down with family for dinner are far more likely to abuse prescription medications or illegal drugs.
Families gathering for dinner also promotes a sense of appreciation for food and helps family members realize that food can play a role beyond nourishing the body – it can actually nourish relationships with family members.
While some may think that eating sit down meals with the family is expensive, the opposite is actually true. Buying a $12-14 dollar two-pound bag of chicken breast (about 8 servings) will last far longer and cost far less than buying a $5 grilled chicken sandwich with all the unhealthy fixing at a grab-and-go restaurant. And you can use healthier fixings like superfood greens such as spinach, kale, and romaine lettuce.
Family dinner can be as easy as buying a roasted chicken at the dinner store, throwing together a salad, and rounding out the meal with a side dish of easy-to-prepare lentils. Getting your kids involved in the kitchen will give them a sense of involvement and in my many years of cooking with kids, one thing is true. Kids eat what they cook! Preparing and eating meals with the family no longer has to be a figment of your imagination. In fact, you can make it a reality tonight. Try these family favorites that you can cook for 4 people for under $15 like tacos, turkey chili, lasagna, or black bean quesadillas. Check out my top foods for kids to include at your family table.