In the aftermath of the holidays, we’ve been reflecting on the importance of sharing meals and cooking as a family. It’s not easy to squeeze healthy meal time into a busy family’s schedule. But for kids, it’s worth it.
Family meals are bonding experiences that can significantly benefit children. According to a Columbia University study, children who regularly eat with their parents are less likely to have substance abuse problems later in life, show better academic performance, and report feeling closer to their parents than children who eat with their families less often. Statistics aside, a family meal is its own reward. A great article in the Atlantic puts it this way: “The dinner table can act as a unifier, a place of community. Sharing a meal is an excuse to catch up and talk, one of the few times where people are happy to put aside their work and take time out of their day.”
Between work, school, and extracurriculars, coordinating family meals is hard. Plenty of us in the Laurus Crew remember wolfing down dinner on the kitchen counter some nights. More importantly, we remember the nights that were able to gather around the table with our families. So don’t stress too much about the quantity of family meals. It’s the quality—not of the food, but of the ritual—that matters.
For brave parents, we have another suggestion for Family Meal Night: cook with your kids. It might seem like a fool’s errand to invite a messy child into your orderly kitchen, but the outcomes are worthwhile. Children that learn to cook from a young age are more likely to eat healthy as adults. Cooking lessons, whether at home, school, or camp, are an opportunity to teach children about healthy ingredients. This knowledge will allow them to make informed decisions about what they choose to eat later in life. Furthermore, people that learn to cook from a young age are less likely to rely on fast food or instant meals. Nobody wants their children to living off of ramen noodles when they get to university!
Note: many of us lived off Ramen noodles anyway, so no guarantee this will stop your kids from doing that, but let’s make sure they at least know how to cook; to survive after first year university!
In addition to its health benefits, cooking lessons can bring families closer together. Many of us remember learning recipes from our parents or grandparents. Cooking lessons are way of passing on your family’s traditions and cultural heritage. In this sense, you’re passing on more than a practical skill to your children when you invite them into the kitchen—you are passing on a piece of your family history to the next generation. With any luck, your children will someday teach those recipes to yet another generation of your family.
With everything that goes into caring for kids, it’s easy to lose sight of the broader values of eating and cooking. The way children learn to eat and cook is integral to their long-term health and sense of community. It’s more than a meal—it’s a lifestyle.
Interested in signing your kids up for cooking lessons? Be sure to check out Laurus’ cooking STA this summer!
If you have questions or comments, we would love to hear from you! Laval Laurus Summer Day Camp!