My grandfather is making his annual sojourn to Santa Fe this month. It is a highlight of our summer every year. For an 89 year old man, he has the get-up-and-go of a man 20 years younger. A veteran of both World War II in the Korean War, he is my hero.
Everything changes in our house when Pappy comes to visit. Life becomes much slower and we live more in the moment. There is no rushing to the grocery store because we have to get to a play date later. Going to the grocery store with Pappy and two kids is the day’s outing and we take our time at it.
And for two weeks, breakfast becomes the most important meal in our house. That is when Grandpa is at his best, so we make breakfast a proper sit-down family meal every morning. I look forward to this every year and it makes me wonder why we don’t do it all the time?
Our family certainly isn’t unique – most families today are on the move. Even though 93% of Americans feel that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, only 44% of us actually eat it and 1/3 of us who do wolf it down on the go.
Breakfast isn’t the only meal that gets short-changed. According to an article in the Washington Post, the home-cooked meal is dying a slow death. Less than 60% of dinners served at home were actually prepared at home. More and more Americans are opting for healthy convenience foods, partially prepared and packaged to go, and why shouldn’t they?
According to the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, one of the main barriers to planning regular and balanced meals is a busy lifestyle. When the consumer research firm NPD Group asked 50,000 people why they prepared a particular dish for dinner, the top five reasons were: (1) required little effort or easy to make; (2) took little/no planning; (3) made with foods that are on-hand; (4) everyone would like; and (5) easy to clean up.
The point is, making the time to enjoy a meal is far more important than how long it took you to cook it. In fact, this study from Cornell shows that eating a family meal together may reduce your child’s chance of being overweight or having eating issues.
Dream as I might about slowing down, and not just for Pappy’s annual visit, I’m still a working mom. It’s a good bet I’ll continue to have only the average 33 minutes to make dinner most nights. Cutting corners on food preparation here and there allows our family to spend more time enjoying each other’s company around the table. That’s kinda hero in it’s own way.