I was struck a little dumb after reading the following from an article in the Globe and Mail:
A new report has found the number of home-cooked meals Canadians are consuming has dropped steadily in recent years. NPD Group Inc., a global market research firm, said Canadian households consumed 380 homemade meals on average in 2009, a significant decline from 398 the year before and 423 meals in 2003.
At the same time, the report found that the consumption of frozen food rose 15 per cent since 2004 to reach the highest level in a decade. More than 75 per cent of meals and snacks Canadians ate last year were prepared in 15 minutes or less, NPD group reported.
For a point of reference if you eat three times a day you should eat 1095 meals per year. So on average a Canadian home-cooked 35% of their meals in 2009, which leaves the other 2/3 to eating out or prepackaged food. Is it any wonder than that this country is getting fat and our debt loads are going up? Yikes!
Out of point of comparison I would guess that we are the complete inverse of that ratio, about 2/3 of our meals are home-cooked (if not more than that). It’s not like it takes much time or anything. A double batch of muffins on the weekend will provide breakfast for a week and can be done in 30 minutes and then frozen. Then heating up a couple in a microwave takes all of 20 seconds. Not to mention the savings our food budget is about $300/month for a family of four while our eating out budget is another $60/month.
For lunch and supper you just need to buy a 30 minute cookbook. Heck if your time during the week is that tight for time you can even cheat a bit and pre-cook a batch of ground beef and onions on the weekend. That way your can drive you cooking time down towards 20 minutes. Same idea applies to other meats if you are really that rushed.
Perhaps the only thing required of people when the cook home-made food is planning. Take 15 minutes on Sunday night and get a small whiteboard and write out what you are cooking each night. That way you can put meat in the fridge the night before to defrost and you avoid the last minute “Oh, what are we eating?” rush that drives a lot of people towards convenience foods. I always find our week flow so much smoother when we remember to plan out the meals in advance.
Also keep in mind it is ok to use some convenience foods. It’s completely fine in my mind to eat a frozen pizza on Thursday night if you know you have swimming lessons for the kids at 6:10pm. The problem occurs when you are doing that every night.
So in conclusion, with a little bit of planning and a small amount of cooking skills you can easily drag up your home-cooked to 50% of the time. Then from there you can get better at cooking and drive that percentage up. As you go you will likely notice a drop in your grocery bills and your waist line. So how does your family do for home-cooked meals? Are you closer to that 35% or up towards 50% or higher?