What’s for dinner… who, ME? Pressures on family meals.

What's for dinner

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what's for dinner

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I’ve marched for women’s rights for 30 years. I’m old!  Ha ha. So I’ve earned a certain right to grouse.

Sociologists from North Carolina State have released findings on a study of the stress related to cooking healthy homecooked meals night after night.  Their findings are disappointing.  The stress on women just isn’t worth it.

On women? Still?

Yes. According to TodayParents, they “interviewed 150 black, white, and Latina mothers, with family incomes ranging from poor to middle-class, and spent more than 250 hours with 12 families during meals, grocery runs and children’s medical checks. Most mothers, regardless of income, were feeling the angst.”

What's for dinner?

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Pressures on home cooking are increasing!


Medical folks, tv foodies, even the US government (think food pyramid and anti-obesity campaigns) are putting increasing importance/pressure on home cooked meals.

The study recorded inadequately stocked kitchens in many lower income families (one family lives in emergency shelter in a hotel room), and picky children and husbands all across incomes.

Families do share duties sometimes; the report mentions a married mother of 3: “Although her husband sometimes helps with cooking, the task is largely in her court.”  In 30 years of feminism and cultural studies, I hardly expected such stasis!

home cooking refrigerator

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As Salon reports, “the main reason that people see cooking mostly as a burden is because it is a burden. It’s expensive and time-consuming and often done for a bunch of ingrates who would rather just be eating fast food anyway.”…

I admit to feeling this way myself sometimes.  And my Running Mate does a LOT of our cooking.  But a national trend?  An epidemic? That’s not right.

Let’s start with picky children, shall we?  Sign up for my free weekly-ish Ezine at Funnermother.com and watch for details about my upcoming free talk on finicky kids.  I have two, and have some great tips.

Check out these recent articles on the endangered family dinner study in Salon and in Today Parents. Leave your comments below, and of course come join us on Facebook.

12 thoughts on “What’s for dinner… who, ME? Pressures on family meals.

  1. I am totally shocked at the study! I mean, I work full time too and do the shopping and cooking (hubby is more than willing to help, but when I’m cooking I find it easier to shop, and he does cook too but I meal plan), but a home cooked meal has got to have some positive affects, no?! It’s a time for family and we eat so much healthier, even with one VERY picky eater. Not to mention the savings! I’ll be the first to say my time is worth a great deal, but the math on going out for dinner doesn’t add up for me over time.
    Maybe it’s because I enjoy cooking, but I am just as tired at the end of my day than anyone else.
    Thank you for what you are doing Angela, to keep home cooked meals in the house!!


    • I do think it’s important to keep the home cooked meals going! It may mean training the dudes (haha) or including the kids sooner, too. Mama needs some help. But I also think home cooking can be simple and still taste good. The foodies have got to get out of our heads, haha. Thank you for reading, Aly, and for commenting. xx a


  2. I would think home cooking works well when you get the whole family involved. As a kid, I loved to cook, and when I was old enough, mom would leave me instructions for when I’d get home from school. Starting or making the whole dinner was part of my chores. It helped mom. Either dinner would be done by the time she got home, or it was far enough along that she could jump in and finish it up. We all worked together to make it happen.


      • Hmmm…let’s see…some of the first things Iearned how to make were meatloaf, beef-a-roni (tomato sauce, ground beef and noodles all mixed together), Shake and Bake Pork Chops, lasagna, chili, mac and cheese, beef stew, meatballs (which were nothing more than doing the same as making meatloaf, but making little balls) or chicken soup from scratch. Sometimes we’d cook together on the weekends and freeze full meals. Other times we’d start something in the crockpot to turn on the next day. Sometimes it would be a matter of taking a defrosted whole chicken and putting it in the oven to start roasting.


      • You know, your response prompts me to remember doing the same! Aaaaah, so long ago. Hamburger helper was my specialty. Maybe it’s time I got Thing 1 (11 yo) to cook a little. Occasionally he makes dinner — on family sandwich night! Haha. Thanks so much for your input, Deborah! x a


  3. The key is planning and prepping…and for me, anyway, the Crock Pot. My husband loves to cook and doesn’t find it a chore at all…bless his heart!…so he is in charge of all that now. Find it a great unwind from his day of toil and dirt. Back when I was in charge of feeding (myself and other people’s kids) it was all about prepping ingredients on the weekends, having what I would need in the pantry and throwing things in the crock pot. I do NOT love to cook, but increasing my skill around prepping and planning made it totally doable. Anything that did not involve the crock pot was easy…pasta with already made sauce, breakfast for dinner. Truth is, we all only eat about 40 foods anyway, so 10 or 12 recipes recycled with one or two added and subtracted now and then was about all that was needed. Once you know the dozen, it can be smooth sailing.


    • “Once you know the dozen” – that’s awesome! Haha. I have to keep that phrase in mind. It helps demystify it, I think! I like cooking mostly, but abhor planning and prep. So we are pantry eaters! 🙂 Thanks so much for reading and commenting, Patrice! xx a


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