We know that eating at home is better for you than eating out. This seems like a given. Some of the the reasons why may surprise you. It’s easy to look at just the ingredient aspect, home cooks tend to use fresher ingredients and lighter oils which makes for healthier food. When we eat in the company of others we tend to eat less food. This is in part because talking with other people while eating unintentionally slows down how quickly one eats and this gives our stomachs and brains time to communicate with each other which allows our bodies to get a clearer signal about actual hunger levels. There is also the social aspect of not wanting to appear greedy or gluttonous.
There are a fair amount of studies supporting the importance of eating in the company of others for mental and social development especially in children. It is at the dinner table that many of us learn manners as well as how to negotiate a conversation and reason out answers. These are skills increasing difficult to learn in our super busy, fast, technological world. Children who eat dinner with their parents were found to not only do better in school but also to have healthier attitudes towards food.
The question then still remains how does one find the time and energy to cook for a family or even just a self, most nights of the week? One great option is dinner swaps or cooking co-ops. All you need are 2 or more people and some Ziploc containers. The more people you have the better. This is the way it works: everyone in the swap or cooking co-op makes one dish a week and they make enough for not only the total number of people in their co-op but their families as well. Not only does this take the pressure off cooking every night it will more likely than not bring variety in diet which is always a welcome addition. Dinner Trade and the folks over at OAMC Freezer Supper Swappers have some great guidelines to get you started on forming your own cooking co-op. Cooking coops also have the added benefit of being Green!
I’m in New York City and would love to start a cooking co-op if anyone is interested.
- Creating extended family one forkful at a time (psychologytoday.com)
- Weekend Cooking for Week Long Eats (eatdrinkbetter.com)