September is National Family Meals Month - a nationwide event designed to inspire American families to commit to making mealtime a priority.
Study after study provides significant, measurable scientific proof about the positive, lifelong benefits of family time in the kitchen. Cooking together and sharing family meals nourish the spirit, brain and health of all family members. Not to mention, people who frequently cook at home eat fewer, healthier calories .
"Additionally, the importance of family meals has been well documented, as far as improving nutrition, children's school performance, and family bonding," says Janice Newell Bissex, MS, RDN, cookbook author and food blogger at MealMakeoverMoms.com. "When I was growing up, sitting down together for dinner as a family was just what we did. There were seven of us and we talked about our days, learned good manners, and helped with setting and clearing the table."
Despite the benefits, a 2013 Harris poll shows only 30 percent of American families today share dinner every night. Why is this? Yes, juggling jobs, kids and the demands of a busy, modern life often come at the expense of family mealtime at home. However, this doesn't need to be the case. Newell Bissex says "Making family meals a priority, even if conflicting schedules are a challenge, may mean sitting down together for an evening snack when the whole family is home, eating breakfast together, or gathering for meals together on the weekend. It's not all or nothing -- every family meal you can manage during the week is a win!"
But those aren't the only reasons families don't eat meals together. A new survey - the Kitchen Confidence Survey, shows that one major ingredient in helping families connect by cooking together is missing in most kitchens: confidence. This new research, conducted by UNCLE BEN'S® Brand, found that nearly all parents know how important it is to teach their kids to cook, but many are lacking their own cooking confidence and identified that as one of the reasons they struggle with inviting their kids into the kitchen with them. As a result, only 35 percent of U.S. parents are very confident their child can boil an egg.
The Kitchen Confidence Survey, asked more than 4,000 parents of kids under 18 in the United States, Canada and United Kingdom about their family's cooking skills and traditions. The Survey led to surprising results:
- 96 percent of parents in the U.S. feel it is important that their children know how to cook or bake. However, only 33 percent cook with their children weekly, while 47 percent cook with their children monthly or less.
- 28 percent of U.S. parents feel they are cooking less often with their children than they did growing up with their own parents.
- 64 percent of U.S. parents do not have a high level of confidence in their children's ability to follow a recipe.
To help families improve their kitchen confidence, UNCLE BEN'S® Brand, is expanding its Ben's Beginners™ cooking program by providing interactive, step-by-step cooking instructions and family friendly recipes at beginners.unclebens.com.
"We believe in the power of families coming together to cook and have fun in the kitchen, and feel that cooking is an essential life skill as important as reading and writing," said Andrew Cops, Vice President of Marketing, Mars Food North America, the parent company of Uncle Ben's®. "With Ben's Beginners™ we have encouraged families to cook together. Now, with our digital hub, we are eager to provide more tools for families to come together and explore new recipes."
On the Ben's Beginners™ website parents will gain confidence as they learn how to cook family-friendly meals together in fun and unique ways. With interactive skills like stirring, chopping, pouring, peeling and measuring available through the website, families will be guided to cook recipes together.
1.Cornell University College of Human Ecology Department of Policy Analysis and Management: Do Family Meals Really Make a Difference?, Eliza Cook, Rachel Dunifon. 2012; Accessed September 06, http://www.human.cornell.edu/ pam/outreach/upload/Family-Mealtimes-2.pdf