Truth be told, we live in a fast-paced world that sometimes leaves us short on time and exhausted by the end of the day. For those with children, balancing multiple schedules can be especially challenging. As the day draws to a close, many parents struggle at mealtime, often settling for boxed entrees and frozen dinners that greatly lack in nutritional value.
“To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art.” – La Rochefoucauld
Earlier this year, the Journal of Nutrition Education & Behavior published a US-based study that explores the reasons why parents purchase prepacked, processed meals for their families. The study found that while a lack of time and a less-healthful home food environment are commonly noted, there may be more involved in these food choices. More specifically, the authors note lower parental cooking self-efficacy and meal-planning as reoccurring themes among those surveyed. These findings align with several recent studies on this topic.
With these findings in mind, below are a few ways to decrease the amount of prepacked, processed foods consumed by families:
1. Cooking Classes
Parental cooking self-efficacy can be improved via cooking classes, which can be either be professionally led or initiated by a friend or family member. Also, by allowing children to participate, this can increase their own confidence relating to cooking self-efficacy, which will benefit them now and in the years to come. Moreover, this can be a great way to spend quality time with loved ones.
2. Online Recipes
For those who are truly pressed for time, the internet can be a valuable resource, offering recipes, how-to videos, and countless forums dedicated to helping users enhance their cooking skills. The great thing about the internet is that it offers a diversity of information, which means that everyone can find what they are looking for, whether that is exotic recipes, quick and easy dinner options, healthy meals, etc.
3. Online Grocery Shopping
Moreover, there are valuable resources available that can make meal-planning much easier for busy families. For example, Loblaw’s recently launched click-and-collect service allows users to order their groceries online. Because the system keeps track of previous selections, after a few uses, consumers will be able to order an entire week’s worth of groceries in a matter of minutes.
While it may seem impossible to manage all the day’s events and hiccups sometimes, it is important to keep in mind that maintaining a healthful home food environment is important to childhood development and our children’s future eating habits. For this reason, we should take conscious steps towards healthy eating as often as possible.
“Horning, M. L., Fulkerson, J. A., Friend, S. E., & Story, M. (2017). Reasons Parents Buy Prepackaged, Processed Meals: It Is More Complicated Than “I Don’t Have Time”. Journal Of Nutrition Education & Behavior, 49(1), 60-66.e1. doi:10.1016/j.jneb.2016.08.012