What’s For Dinner?


Isn’t it ironic! We spent half of the twentieth century inventing kitchen gadgets that would help us make cooking easier and faster, and now we just stopped using our kitchens all together. Naturally, I am not speaking for the whole wide world. Yet, the crowded eating venues, from bargain burger joints to high-end restaurants speak for themselves: our kids eat out a lot.   Of course, I am not against taking children out to eat. It is actually good for them. It is a great opportunity for children to get exposed to ethnic foods and table manners. This is how our son took to sushi and mastered the art of using chopsticks. Eating out can be an adventure, treat, something we do on vacation. What I am opposed though, is the new trend of frequently taking children out to the nearest family restaurant  for a family dinner. It must be good for them, right? After all the place has high chairs and mac-and-cheese on the kids’ menu.

What’s wrong with eating at home? With all the cook books, online recipes, stores open around the clock, one can fix a proper meal with minimal planning and non-existent cooking skills. And you don’t need ME to tell you that eating at home is HEALTHIER. We have a full control of what ingredients we use (organic meat vs. mystery meat), how we cook our meals (steaming vs. deep frying) or how much we put on our plates. Besides, the food is fresher and less processed. Children get to see a real tomato and apple instead of ketchup and apple sauce. Isn’t it what we want for our children?

Well, whatever you think about the health benefits of home cooking, the advantages of eating at home go far beyond nutrition:

1. Cooking at home  is a great way to engage the whole family. Children can set the table, empty the dishwasher, chop vegetables. If mom cooks, dad can do the dishes. It is an opportunity to chat about the day and plan the week, while helping each other.

2. Eating at home is more relaxing, even if it appears otherwiseNobody waits to grab your table, you don’t need to call the waiter just to get some water and you don’t have to feel embarrassed, when your baby starts crying half way through the meal.

3. Cooking at home teaches children to respect their food. It is so easy to be wasteful at the restaurant. The waiter will  take your plate away, even if you only nibbled on your meal. At home, throwing food away comes with some guilt, doesn’t it? Lucky those with dogs!

4. Eating at home means sharing the same meal. A limited menu is a great solution for fussy and picky eaters.

5. Cooking at home teaches children… cooking. It is not about raising another celebrity chef, but teaching them a vital life skill: taking care of their own meals later in life. It all starts with observing parents cooks, then helping parents cook and before you know it, they cook a dinner for you. Besides, cooking is a great way to develop creativity and perform experiments. What child doesn’t fancy that!

And last but not least,

Cooking at home is a great gift for your children. They will turn it into a precious memory. I still remember the flavor of my mom’s roasted potatoes or mouth watering pastries. The very thought of her cooking makes me feel warm and fuzzy. Think about it next time you take your children out for a bag of chicken nuggets.

I would rather take children to the grocery store. It is still cold in many parts of the world, so a cup of hot soup sounds good, doesn’t it? Why not to cook it together?

For a delicious recipe and great read, refer to my previous post: 70. “Soup Day” by Melissa Iwai

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