Breaking the Cycle of Fast Food Reliance for Busy Families
By Dalton Haberman
We can all relate to grabbing fast food in a pinch. Fast food is convenient, tastes good, and is affordable. But even if your family only eats out 2-3 nights a week, a CDC study found your family ends up less likely to buy and eat healthy fruits and veggies.
Growing up, I took my mother’s home-cooked soul food for granted. I had no idea she spent one night every week planning what the family would eat for the next week, a second night buying all the groceries to make it happen, and making the food the rest of the week. Cooking is a huge commitment, and with all of the demands of the modern world, sometimes the ease and speed of fast food feels like a more compelling option.
The Exceptionally Busy Lifestyle of Families
Even if you know how to cook, a major life change can force you to think about how you spend your time. Bringing a new child into the family is one of the most common examples of this.
A good friend of mine is a mom of two boys aged 14 and 16. She feels guilty for her boys’ poor eating habits. They’re picky, preferring junk food over anything else. Why? Because they grew up with fast food. Throughout their childhood, her husband deployed six times for the Air Force. Between her full-time job, going to school, and household chores, she had no time to cook.
Once you get used to the convenience of fast food, it’s difficult to go back. Even if you have experience cooking, the intimidation factor returns. This scenario is all too common as there’s a lot to consider when cooking.
How Unhealthy Is Fast Food?
There are ways to make your fast food experience healthier, but as we’ll explore in this article, there’s nothing more satisfying than a home-cooked meal, and if done right, they’re healthier too.
In small quantities, the effects of fast food on your body are minimal. Eating out as a celebration of your child’s achievement isn’t a problem. But going out every Thursday after the baseball game, Saturdays with the grandparents, and when you run out of time to cook makes your children prone to countless health issues.
Sadly, eating out at restaurants or takeout typically isn’t any better. But there’s a reason for this. The ability and time to cook are something out of reach for many people.
What Goes Into a Home-Cooked Meal
If you’ve ever cooked, especially for others, you know how much goes into it. For those that haven’t, the intimidation of getting started is justified.
Where do you even start?
There are three primary considerations and questions you should be asking with cooking:
- Planning: Some important questions to ask yourself are:
- How long will it take to prepare?
- Do you have the tools and ingredients?
- How many servings do you need?
- Do you have any dietary restrictions or food allergies?
- Shopping: Now it’s time to buy the ingredients. But first, you need to check what you already have available. Sometimes, you can get creative with substitutes for oils and spices. Part of good planning is buying ingredients that can be used for another meal. Check out our article on reducing grocery costs.
- Cooking: It’s an art in multi-tasking, with countless strategies to make it quicker. If you don’t do things in the right order, making the meal only takes longer. Turn on the oven first. Can you chop while the stove is warming up? Don’t forget seasonings. In a worst-case scenario, poor preparation can result in a ruined meal if you’re not careful.
What can be done to make this process easier? Let’s dive into some solutions.
If you’re managing it all yourself, planning is key to manageable meals. There are articles that help break down the planning process.
You can get technology’s help with printed calendars or use Google Calendar to help you plan things out on a daily basis. Or, use DinnerTime, a meal planning app that helps you with weekly recipes based on your preferences, and a grocery list to take with you to the grocery store. You could even use one of the many grocery delivery options we detail below so you can skip the trip to the store!
If you know a new parent or someone caring for a loved one who’s ill, there are tools like Meal Train and Take Them a Meal to get help from family and friends coordinating meals. These services can allow you to collect donations for the grocery stores or delivery gift cards. This ensures no meals get missed, even with an impacted schedule.
Grocery delivery has been around for several years now, but the pandemic really increased the popularity of this service. People can shop online, and get their food dropped off at home. This saves time going to the store, walking around shopping, and waiting in line to check out. It also cuts down on impulse purchases as you can often save a list of regularly purchased items, and won’t be tempted by the smell of fresh baked cookies coming from the bakery department.
The following grocery delivery services are good options:
- AnyCart – Enter your zip code on their website, choose your favorite local grocery store, and shop. Unlike some other services, it’s the same price as in store, and it’s free delivery to your home!
- Farmstead – Offers free same day delivery with no service fees or commitments. They also offer 5% off items that you buy more than once from them. Instead of buying from a grocery store, you are buying directly from them.
- Imperfect Foods – Helps to eliminate food waste by offering the imperfect (yet delicious) produce that many grocery stores reject, affordable pantry items, and quality eggs, dairy, proteins, and more. You sign up for a weekly delivery that you can edit before it ships to you.
Done-for-You Home Cooked Meals
Foodom is the best way to get home-cooked meals prepared, cooked, leftovers stored, and dishes cleaned in your home by a professional chef. This allows you to save even more time without worrying about shopping, cooking, or cleaning whatsoever. There’s nothing fresher than a meal cooked right in front of you.
As opposed to paying a monthly subscription with fresh food delivery, schedule one of our Foodom chefs to come to your home weekly or as-needed and cook several meals. Since it’s charged based on the time required to cook, more quantity means less spent per meal. Foodom chefs store plenty of leftovers for your family to enjoy at work and school.
Foodom is completely flexible if you or your children have any dietary restrictions. And with fast food delivery options only increasing in price since the start of the pandemic, getting healthy meals cooked for you actually ends up less expensive in the long run.
If you’re planning an event, want a break from cooking, or want tasty food without any of the hassles, this is a perfect choice.
Fast Food Isn’t Your Best Option
I hope you found these suggestions helpful and will consider making fast food or takeout a rare indulgence as opposed to a necessity. Remember, even when juggling work, dropping the kids off at school, chores, and the general craziness of life, you have options!
Foodom is only available in Northern California but will continue to expand to more regions in the coming months.