Dinner at home, a simple statement but loaded with complication. At least that seems to be how America sees dinner at home. We would rather go out and grab something, anything, than to go home and cook a meal. I know because I have fallen into that deep dark pit myself. Let me explain….
I work full time, in food service. I am a food service manager for a private school; we produce about 400 lunches a day. We do a lot of from scratch, healthy cooking for our students. I am surrounded with food….shopping, ordering, getting menus together, logistics, personnel, and cooking. This is my day life, so when I go home I get to do it all again. I am exhausted just like every other family cook.
This new year, I am taking the pledge, family dinners it is! I use a menu mailer to help me not think. I shop once a week, keeping only items in the fridge for that week. We have downsized our fridge; freezer on the top, fridge on the bottom. It is small and we only buy what we can use in a week. That commercial about throwing away half your grocery cart, is all too true. So nip it in the bud….more about that in another post.
I have two teenage daughters, 16 and 18. I also have a 20 year old son that works evenings and is unable to join us nightly, but that is not an excuse for the rest of us. It is so important that we eat together; it is when the girls talk to my husband and me. They tell us about their day, what happened, how a certain class went and what they did during lunch. They open up without even being aware of it. They fight me on the making of dinner and cleaning up, but once we get into it, they are on board. This is precious, precious time and it will set up traditions for their own families.
I believe in eating a home cooked meal more times then most. I think that we are cheating our children when we don’t shop, plan and prepare family meals. We have a generation who has no idea how to feed themselves. They have no idea what half the produce is in the bins, how to plan a meal with whole grains, beans, or real meat. They don’t understand the different cuts of roast beef, how to cook a whole chicken or the difference between pork tenderloin or a pork loin. They have no clue how to take a tough piece of beef into a luscious stew.
We need to change that for our children and our grandchildren. We need to cook again. We need to model behaviors that will benefit them for a lifetime. And in the process, they will learn how to shop, plan, prepare, cook, eat, clean up for themselves. Cooking and eating dinner together will build confidence in our children, and ourselves. Cooking at home will keep us healthier. Cook for our family, cook for our selves, cook for the future.
Rachael Warrington is a Food Service Manager at a school in Kansas and the mother of three. Her blog is Headcook and BottleWasher.
She writes: “It was not until I was 40 that I realized what I wanted to be when I grew up: A Foodie. I love to read about food, cook food and of course eat food. I am a wife and mother and that is the most important thing to me. We own a small farm with several kinds of animals and we grow heirloom tomatoes for market. We try to live our lives with integrity toward the earth. We cherish each other most of the time, and we face the outside world together. We are a family first.”