The Atlantic reports that “the average American eats one in every five meals in her car, one in four Americans eats at least one fast food meal every single day, and the majority of American families report eating a single meal together less than five days a week.” This is rather concerning – rushed meals, processed food and fast food can lead to obesity.
Even in many Indian households, busy adults prefer approaching meal-time by Swiggying food in or relying on their domestic help to cooking something. But, there are many reasons to ditch all these options and actually cook together as a family. Let’s take a look at five, in particular! –
1. Family Unity
Cooking meals together as a family offers everyone crucial time to work together and bond – you’re actually able to spend precious time together, which is rare when everyone has busy schedules and so many distractions. Setting aside cooking time together allows everyone to catch up and set aside offline time to engage with one another through a delicious activity. “Cooking together is preferable and beneficial not only because it strengthens the string of attachment and unity among all members of the family, but also because it helps dissolve the bitter relations and sentiments amongst the members of the house,” says dietitian, nutritionist and personal trainer Janvi Doshi. “It adds scads of sweetness of love in the recipe.”
2. Soft Skills
Social skills. Communication skills. Teamwork. Creativity. Planning. Following directions. Measuring. Cleaning up. Grocery shopping. Problem-solving. Table manners. Multitasking. Besides stimulating all five senses, cooking imparts many practical skills to young ones, making it a useful activity to involve them in when they are impressionable. You can even ask your little one(s) to pick the “recipe of the week” or “recipe of the day” on YouTube so they look forward to being an active part of cooking time.
3. Increased Responsibility
No cooking. No food. No taking the easy way out to order in. This mantra can teach children how to be responsible and independent. Cooking can also help children learn about the importance of hygiene. Rather than worrying they might break things, help them build their self-esteem by trusting them with fragile things. You’ll be pleasantly surprised with their maturity!
4. Improved Nutrition
“Cooking together can help kids to learn about nutrition, giving them an appreciation for healthier foods,” reveals dietitian and nutritionist Monisha Joukani. “It’s a great way to kickstart a healthier lifestyle,” she adds. “The tendency to eat and relish any food will be higher if they have contributed their efforts in the entire preparation process,” elaborates Vasundhara Agarwal, nutrition consultant and lifestyle coach.
Help picky eaters develop healthy eating habits early on so they make healthy choices even when they are adults. In fact, you can educate children about the pros and cons of different ingredients so they are aware of what’s good for their body and what’s not. Don’t be surprised if your children soon start calling you out whenever you’re caught with unhealthy snacks!
5. Healthier Mentality
Cooking as a family also lends itself to a healthier mentality. Not only does it promote feelings of gratitude to be blessed enough to have tasty food on the table, it also bust stereotypes when everyone is treated as an equal, irrespective of their age or gender. “In a general urban setting, the family size is small – women tend to take work outside home. In such a scenario it’s important for the children and men of the house to help in cooking for a healthy nutritious home cooked meal,” explains Vasundhara. If you educate your children about animal welfare, sustainability and the importance of supporting local farmers, this can also spark feelings of social responsibility.
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