If there’s one thing Americans love to do, it’s eat out. We watch cooking shows on the Food Network and buy the latest gadgets but cooking? Not so much.
Between 2015 and 2016, we spent more money eating out than on buying groceries—about $3,000 a year. Heading to a nearby pizza joint or grabbing take-out is a lifesaver after a long day at work or when your kids have after-school activities and sports. It’s quick, easy and convenient but eating out on a regular basis isn’t the best idea especially with kids.
Here are 5 reasons why you should cook and eat at home instead.
1. Eating out with kids is stressful
Let’s start with the obvious. Unless the restaurant you’re dining at has childcare (yes, places like this exist) any parent knows that when you have kids in tow, someone is bound to spill a drink, drop food on the floor, misbehave or need a diaper change.
Suffice it to say, eating out with kids isn’t fun so avoid it at all costs.
2. Kids don’t eat healthy
Unless you know how to order, most kids’ meals in restaurants are filled with sodium, sugar and saturated fat not to mention portion sizes are usually too large.
In fact, 97 percent of kids’ meals at 34 top chain restaurants failed to meet expert nutrition standards, a 2013 report by the Center for Science in the Public Interest found. Sure, restaurants often have vegetables as sides, but kids usually ask for and get the fries. And if there’s bread on the table, there goes any chance of getting your kid to eat healthy.
3. You don’t know what your kids are eating
When you eat out, you don’t really know how the dish is made. Restaurants want you to enjoy their food so you’ll come back so they often use loads of butter and salt to make the meal taste good. You also won’t really know what’s in a sauce, dressing or a meal unless you’re the one cooking it.
4. Eating out loses its flavor
If you eat out several times a week, it starts to become normal for your kids. If you really want your kids to eat healthy, learn how to cook healthy and know what a healthy plate looks like, then they should eat dinner at home. If you go out to eat regularly, chances are they’ll grow into young adults who only eat out or order in.
5. It’s too expensive
To keep their restaurants in business, establishments mark up their food costs—a lot. According to a survey by Plate IQ, a company that processes invoices for restaurants, meals have a mark-up anywhere between 155% and 636%.
That $14 burger doesn’t look so appetizing does it?
If you need to go grocery shopping or you’re tight on time, eating out is OK, but eat out several times a week and you’ll blow your money on more expensive, less healthy meals you and your kids really don’t need.