I thought I had to cook to be a good mom. I was wrong.
You won’t find me slaving over a stove.
Nearly every night, my daughter, husband and I eat one of three things for dinner: A sandwich from the deli, a prepared meal from healthy food delivery service Munchery; or takeout from a neighborhood restaurant. That’s because I rarely cook (I’m talking once every couple weeks, if that) — not lunch or dinner; not birthday cakes or cupcakes for kids parties; not dips or apps for BBQs. And you won’t find my husband in the kitchen much either.
We’re not alone. More Americans than ever are ordering food from their sofas: Data released this week from research firm The NPD Group found that we used our smartphones, tablets and computers to order 1.9 million meals, up 18% from a year prior.
Catey giving her daughter a non-homemade snack.
I’m no Martha Stewart, nor do I enjoy cooking, but that’s not the only reason I shun the stove. Doing it gives me back the one thing I want most in the world: time with my family. When I calculated the time I’d get back with my daughter if I didn’t cook, which took me at least 30 minutes a day, it added up to (conservatively) three and a half hours a week, or 182 hours per year. (That’s more than 3,000 hours of extra time with her before she heads off to college — just by letting my pots and pans collect dust in their drawers.)
I didn’t start off as the anti-Jessica Seinfeld. When my daughter started eating solid foods around six months, I began cooking each night. It seemed like something “good” moms did. But between the chopping, peeling, boiling and sauteing, not to mention the grocery shopping, cooking ate into at least 30 minutes of the evening and proved not much cheaper than my former takeout habit (likely thanks to my living in the cheap takeout capital of America: New York City). And sure I was half-playing with my daughter at least some of the time I was cooking, but that’s just it: it was only “half” playing “some” of the time.
Soon cooking began to seem like a waste of time, not only because I didn’t enjoy it, but also because — thanks to our demanding jobs — my husband and I don’t get enough time with my daughter as it is. I realized that while I have plenty of friends that cook every night and love it — good for them! — it’s just not for me.
Still, some part of me felt guilty about not cooking: Isn’t a home-cooked meal a cornerstone of a solid family? But research shows that it’s not so much who cooked the meal as it is that you all eat it together. And we do. Eating meals together as a family improves children’s vocabulary and academic performance, reduces their likelihood of engaging in risky behaviors as teens like smoking and binge drinking, and generates feelings of closeness and comfort. And that happens whether you whip up a gourmet meal in your kitchen or order one with a few clicks on Seamless.
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