“I’m at home. Some brands of meal kits

“I’m lovin’ it”. Do you recognize this famous slogan? Of course you do, the McDonald’s slogan is known worldwide. With the first McDonald’s being established in 1948, it helped start the new and prosperous industry of fast food. McDonald’s’ quickly spread across the nation, making its name known globally. Their low priced, freaky fast hamburgers and addictive salty french fries made McDonald’s the most profitable fast food restaurant in the industry. Although McDonald’s expanded this revolutionary industry, it pushed households away from what the cultural norm had been for the past decades: homecooked meals. Home cooked meals have been what people have known for centuries. Women were groomed to prepare the food while men went out and caught the food. Even in today’s society women, in many households, are still expected to stay at home and cook while men provide for the family. However, as the world gets busier, so do our lives. Women started looking for jobs, and society started looking for quick and convenient ways to do things. Although pre-made meals provide convenience, and make up for society’s lack of cooking skills, home cooked meals are better for a person’s health, and family and individual success. Although down time is nice, the world is getting busier and society wants to stay up to speed.With parents running around to get their kids from activity to activity, they do not have enough time to get home and cook a meal for the family, but there are better ways to eat meals. Meal kits are widely used and have benefits, but still shouldn’t replace a home cooked meal. Meal kits are pre-made baskets with ingredients and a recipe to prepare a meal at home. Some brands of meal kits are as follows: Blue Apron, Hellofresh, Purple Carrot, and etc. Surveys have shown that 1 out of every 4 adults have purchased kits, and at least 70 percent of those users are still purchasing them to this day (“Meal Kits…”). However, it is not their brand recognition that makes them popular, it is their convenience. They prepare kits with various types of food, such as: fresh produce, meat and poultry, and even seafood that save a person from the weekly run to the grocery store.”Meal Kits Deliver on Convenience and Health” states that, “9 out of 10 meal kit users said that they are satisfied with the quality of the meal kits.” With the time saved using a meal kit an individual can focus on others things in their life, but meal kits should not be the main source for every meal. Over time the meal kits can add up in cost. For example, some potential users said that lowering the price would influence them into buying one. Along with the price, another common suggestion was having the kits available at their local grocer. In doing so, this could add to a meal kits convenience and affordability. (“Meal Kits…”). Although meals kits are the healthier option, people still look to fast food restaurants for their meals. Even though fast-food chains are starting to introduce healthier items to their menus, there are still downfalls to this change. In the 2000’s and 2010’s, society was starting to become more health concious about what they were eating; however, this became a problem for fast food chains. These new diets have resulted in the introduction of healthier food options to fast food menus. For example, McDonald’s began selling oatmeal, fruit smoothies, and apples, but with no surprise they didn’t get picked off the shelves like intended.  People could not get over the idea of having that grease filled McMuffin on their plates instead of fresh oats. McDonald’s is not the only place that has started serving healthier options. Places such as Burger King and Wendy’s have started adding salads, foods that are grilled, and even fruit options (“Fast Food”). Besides the nutritional difference between home cooked and fast food meals, the convenience aspect of fast food skyrocketed with the drive thru windows. It is much easier for a family to drive thru and grab food then go home and wait at least 30 minutes to prepare a meal. Also the clean up after a home cooked meal can be daunting. Who would want to spend another hour just cleaning up the mess that they made? Some will agree that they do not cook meals at home because they do not want to or can not clean up afterwards. Although fast food is a simple and quick option for dinner it is not the healthiest. Researchers suggest that, “When eating out people are either eating more, eating higher calorie foods, or both” (“Home Cooked…20”). This is not far from the truth either, people gravitate towards the half pound burger with a large fry and large drink instead of going home and eating a salad with fruit and vegetables. Societies stomachs are stretching because that is what restaurants want to happen. They want us to be able to eat more so they can increase prices which then increases profits.Moreover, for the people who do cook at home, women are normally the ones who prepare the meals. Women, who have cooked for families in years past, are becoming too busy to cook, but families should not forget about cooking entirely. “On average, women spend 66 minutes per day cooking, almost 50 less than in the 1960’s” (“The slow death…”). Even though this is still more than enough time, it shows that society has slowing stopped cooking. Instead of women spending all day in front of the stove, they are spending it at their job or outside of the home. With women starting to venture out of the kitchen society slowly loses their basic cooking skills. Without this, families start to pick up bad habits by finding supplements to home cooked meals. Even though women have dwindled down their time spent cooking, it is vital that people start teaching the younger generation basic cooking skills. Society is lacking the skills to prepare a home cooked meal but it is important to know how to cook. People are also becoming less interested in knowing how to cook. “At the current rate, less than half of all dinners eaten at home in this country will be homemade” ( qtd. by Harry Blazer). Many factors can come into play with not developing quality cooking skills. If the individual wasn’t taught in their youth they are less likely to teach their children the skills. Another fact is that frozen meals are gaining popularity. Instead of someone trying to learn to make three cheese penne, they will buy the Smart Ones version of the same exact meal they could have prepared if they had the skills. However, the downfall of home cooked meals aren’t just affecting a certain area of society, it is affecting all social classes. Throughout the years low, middle, and high income classes started cooking meals at home less and less. “Between the mid-1960’s and the late 2000’s, low-income households went from eating at home 95 percent of the time to only 72 percent of the time. Middle income households went from eating at home 92 percent of the time to 69 percent of the time. High income households went from eating at home 88 percent of the time to only 65 percent of the time” (“The slow death…”). All these can be contributed to not having the type of cooking skills to prepare meals. The drop from low and middle income classes was the same, but compared to the high income households the numbers were nothing. With the prices of fast food being so high, not eating out as much can be a pattern in lower income households. If households aren’t making enough to get by they might try not to spend it on unhealthy fast food options. With higher income classes making more money, they have some extra money to spend on frivolous things. The cost factor does not seem to have the same relevance that it used to. Now all income households are spending more on fast and convenient options rather than on home cooked meals. With all social classes starting to jump on the bandwagon of fast food, it leaves kids without essential skills needed later in life. Although cooking skills are not taught, they are a lifelong skill that every child should have as they leave the house. The most important time that these skills should be taught is before college. This is a time when kids have the support of their parents for food, but in college that all changes. They have to either eat the cafeteria food provided for them or they have to go and buy their own food to survive on. When talking about college and the “Freshman 15” comes up, they are not joking about it. I have personally seen this with my own brother. He went to college and when he came back for Thanksgiving break we noticed that he had gained considerable weight from when he first started college. We blamed some of it on being less active than in high school and the bad eating habits he picked up while away, but he was also eating lots of Ramen Noodles. Ramen Noodles are a classic college starter pack, but they contain loads of salt. Salt can give the illusion of gaining weight but in all reality they might be bloated from all the salt intake. That’s why preparing kids, like my brother, for cooking in the real world can save them from gaining those extra pounds.Although there are options out there for quick ways to eat a meal, society is losing the health benefits and family and individual success that comes with a home cooked meal. The biggest benefit of eating a home cooked meal is the health problems that are reduced when choosing not to eat the convenient option. For instance, it can decrease depression and the feeling of isolation found in children that do not have quality family time. Families who do not sit down and eat meals with each other tend to lack family connectivity. This can then cause children to act differently and have feelings of depression and isolation. This can also lead to those kids eating junk food or just overeating in general (Campbell 59). It is kind of like a never ending cycle of depression. A person eats because they are depressed then they are depressed because they are gaining weight because they eat too much. This can cause even more problems such as: self confidence issues, obesity, and even suicidal thoughts. Similarly, home cooked meals can lower the risk of obesity. A study conducted by Ohio Medicaid Assessment Survey found that individuals with a “BMI over 30 were considered obese, and about one third of the participants fell into this category.” In the end, 52 percent of those participants ate six to seven meals per week with family, 35 percent ate meals with the family about every other day and 13 percent ate them once or twice a week (Kennedy). Researchers found that family meal time might not directly reduce the risk of obesity, but cooking meals at home made a person 26 percent less likely to develop obesity. Jerica Burge, an associate professor at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis found that it is not just how many times home cooked meals are eaten, but the nutritional value of a meal (Kennedy).  Picking meals that provide all essential nutrients can help lower the risk of obesity as well. On that note, home cooked meals provided better or more nutrition than a person can get by eating a fast food meal. The most obvious difference between fast food and a home cooked meal is the calorie differential. When choosing to eat fast food a person’s calorie intake almost doubles from 18 to 34 percent over time than if they were to eat a home cooked meal. Researchers have found that there is also a sodium and fat difference between the two meals. The fat contained in home cooked meals is about 31.5 percent, compared to fast food whose fat has been a stable 37.5 percent (“Home cooked…20”). Also, one third of all the fast food packaging can contain toxic chemicals. Lead researcher, Laurel Schaider, of the Silent Spring Institute in Newton, Massachusetts, studied chemicals that can be found in fast food packaging. They found that “Nearly half of paper wrappers… contained fluorinated chemicals, and that around 20 percent of paperboard packaging… contained fluorinated chemicals.”  In additional studies, Schaider and her team tested various wrappers for PFASs, poly fluoroalkyl and perfluoroalkyl substances. They found that about 46 percent of all the wrappers they tested were positive for PFASs (Rapaport). Another benefit of eating a home cooked meal is the family and individual success. Although it might be easy to run through a drive through, society should make time to prepare a home cooked meal because it gives their family success as well as themselves. Kids activities being at night can leave families without quality meal time. With kids missing meals for activities, they can miss out on the cultural customs or the sharing of family experiences when they are not at the dinner table (Campbell 59). They miss out on the crucial family bonding that is taking place at the table. If kids are still young, then the parents have to drive them to and from activities which in return takes away from the preparation time of a quality home cooked meal. This has been the case with my family as well. When we kids are out doing our normal routine, not only do we lose out on the nutritional value of the meal, but we also miss family bonding time. We talk about each others day and what we have going on in our lives, but when we are too busy to be there it is never heard or shared. Also, not only are meals important for family time, but it can also teach kids valuable lessons. Preparing a meal together with the whole family can be an educational opportunity. Not only can cooking with a parent teach kids cooking skills, it can also teach them how to work with others, or even how to be responsible. It can also give a child a sense of inclusion with the family which can divert kids from feelings of depression or isolation (Campbell 59). This applies to my life as well. My mom and I bake holiday goodies together and I always learn something new while doing it. I have learned how to read a recipe, and also how to measure out ingredients. This has provided me with math skills that are important to everyday life. It also taught me how to work well with others. My mom and I have to work together if we wanted the food to turn out, and it would not have worked if we both tried to do our own things. This can also teach great communication skills as well. Being able to communicate is important all through a person’s lifetime. I had to make sure my mom knew what I was working on for the recipe so we could efficiently make the recipe.Even though family time is important, it is not the only thing home cooked meals can contribute too. Home cooked meals can affect a student’s success in school as well. A study was done to show this type of relationship. The director of the Honors College would send out an invite to incoming freshman to invite them over to his house for a dinner, and this persisted through multiple semesters. Some kids would drop out and not finish, but with the ones who stayed the whole time they gave data to the study. After the entire study was concluded, these are some of the results collected. For the kids who attended the dinner they had an average grade point average of 3.54, and the kids who didn’t attend had an average grade point average of 2.76. In the spring semester is was less significant but the attendees had a 3.50 GPA, and the kids who did not attend had an average 3.16 (Green 37). Although the difference between the two were not significant, they did happen. In the end the study showed that the kids who went to the director’s house and had a home cooked meal had better grade point averages than those who did not. This is not saying that the food itself helped these kids with their GPA’s, it was the fact that they felt the inclusion from their college and therefore might have found more enjoyment out of college or even more success. Home cooked meals have both their pros and cons about whether or not they are important in a person’s life. With the busyness of society, it is hard to find time to make a home cooked meal. There are some ways families can get more home cooked meals. They could plan out their meals for the week. People are always looking for ways to make life easier and more convenient. This can help keep them reliable to eat the meal. Also, if society can just slow down their lifestyles, then they might have more time for a home cooked meal. Although pre-made meals provide convenience, and make up for a lack of cooking skills, home cooked meals are better for your health and your family and individual success. I’m not saying that society should stop eating at McDonald’s, or any fast food place; however, it is important that they find ways to supplement for what they are losing out on when choosing fast food. So before you go to order that juicy half pound, pickled filled burger with the highly salted, oh-so  satisfying french fries, think about the effects it could have. Will you still be lovin it?