The Importance of Home-Cooked Family Dinners

When I grew up I remember pretty much every weeknight at 6 or 7 it would be family dinnertime and me and my brother would pull-up to our kitchen table ready to fill the bottomless pits that kids have for stomachs. At the time I thought these dinners were just another way to shovel down food. What I now realize in hindsight is that my parents were helping establish a routine where our entire family sat down and ate a home-cooked meal together. Thanks to this type of a routine I have always been compelled to cook my own food when possible to and try to include my friends and family as often as possible to share the experience.

In these modern times when it is so easy to pick-up to-go food or to call in a pizza delivery, it is important that parents do not lose sight of the impact of home-cooked family dinners. Instead of doing what is most beneficial for your time (take-out or delivery), focus on what is most beneficial for your children, which is eating healthy meals with their parents on a regular basis. As parents you are your children’s biggest role models, and whether you realize it or not much of your behavior will be copied by your kids later in life. By making home-cooked meals you will be showing your kids the value of cooking and will have complete control over what type of foods they are eating. Establishing a healthy eating routine is critical for children and since they are at school most the day the night family dinner is your best opportunity to make an impact. By making the dinners regular and making sure the entire family is included your kids will be shown the importance of keeping a routine and including friends and family when possible. Later down the road when your kids are grown-up they will find themselves compelled to have their friends and family over when possible for home-cooked meals – there is nothing more enjoyable about a home-cooked meal than getting to share it with the people you care about. This is a great way to get people involved in caring about what they eat and looking forward to a meal because of the social opportunity it creates.

That’s not to say you can’t break the pattern occasionally and get a pizza delivered or grab some chicken wings on the way home. However, that needs to be a break in the pattern and not the norm. Additionally, you can’t cheat on these meals in front of your kids – if you cook chicken with brown rice and carrots for dinner for your kids and then eat a cheeseburger and fries while they eat you are giving completely mixed messages that will likely lead to your kids complaining about what they have to eat. Send the right message by setting the right example and eat the same thing you are feeding your kids – soon you will be looking forward to dinner every night to get to talk with your kids and eat some great, healthy, home-cooked food.