Pop quiz: What’s the one thing you can do to ensure your child is 35% less likely to be engaged in unhealthy eating habits? Or 24% more likely to eat healthier foods? And 12% less likely to be tempted to try drugs? If you guessed cooking and eating together, you’re batting more than a thousand today.
In many countries, family mealtime is almost sacred. But the Norman Rockwell portrait of the family around the dinner table is almost alien in America’s lightning-fast, takeaway-friendly world. The statistics on this are shocking: The average American eats one in every five meals in their 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.
Not having quality cooking and eating time together has palpable, real-life negative consequences on kids. Studies have shown that teenagers who regularly eat dinner with their families are less likely to engage in illicit behavior involving drugs and alcohol and more likely to get better grades and be mentally and physically healthy. A study done by The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse revealed that teens who eat fewer than three family dinners per week compared to those who eat five to seven a week are twice as likely to use alcohol and tobacco and one and a half times more likely to use marijuana.
Cooking with kids promotes creativity, mindfulness, and patience in children, no matter what their age. And little kids practice fine motor skills and math and science lessons, while older ones learn a lifelong skill that will give them confidence and the tools to feed themselves healthfully and affordably. But, while we’d all like to cook up real happy meals, it’s hard to find the time to plan, shop and prep every night. An easy way to achieve what can be a nearly impossible nightly task is to use a delivery meal kit service that offers family-style dinners like Green Chef, which serves up USDA-certified organic ingredients in super delicious restaurant quality recipes, such as Chili con carne with Monterey Jack, black beans, and cornbread (above). Plus Green Chef offers very flexible and affordable meal plans.
Cheaper than therapy, more fun than fighting, plus, other benefits we’ve discovered in our #ILoveToCook series—the next time there’s family tension, try planning and cooking a meal together. It’s full of small manageable tasks kids of all ages can accomplish, acts as a bonding experience and creates a shared reward at the end (i.e. dinner).
Also published on Medium.