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More than Money: Grocery Shopping Is a Family Affair

Grocery shopping influences more than dinner. Research shows it impacts our families' health, too.

Daunting? Crowded? Therapeutic? Many individuals usually go through a range of emotions just thinking about pushing their cart through the grocery store. What doesn’t strike us as often is how beneficial a good grocery shopping trip can be - it’s the foundation for meal-prepping, home cooking, and ultimately, what we eat. Grocery shopping and food selection play an important role in setting the stage for your dinner tonight and health tomorrow.

A good shopping trip can result in a great home-cooked meal, which carries its range of perks:

Live Well. The more people choose to cook their meals at home, the healthier their diets are, showing lower rates of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular issues, and obesity, improving their overall quality of life.1,2

Enjoy Company. Cooking at home? Invite a friend! Passing the salt to a friend at the table not only makes your food tastier but also helps you build a better connection with your loved ones. In one study, parents who ate alone often, without their children, reported that their meal was less satisfying.3

Know Your Food. Cooking food at home is more likely to be healthier than restaurant meals or fast-food. Many restaurant and fast food meals add extra fat, salt, and sugar to meals without our knowledge, but when you’re making your food at home, you know what ingredients you’re eating. 

Learn Together. Dinnertime conversations can be the most stimulating discussions your children hear. Infants with exposure to their parents’ dinner conversations expand their vocabulary faster.4 If your children are already talking, they’re still likely to do better in school if they eat dinner with the rest of the family.5

Take It Dinner by Dinner. Research shows that households that regularly eat dinner together have lower rates of smoking, violence, and underage drinking. Children who eat meals with their families are more likely to have development benefits like a commitment to learning, positive values, social skills, and a positive identity.6

Meet Your Budget. A typical fast-food meal for a family of four can cost $25 or more. With a grocery list and a few shopping tricks, home-cooked meals can save you money.

Check out our tips for reaping the full benefits of your next family dinner:

Go Big and Go Home. Quality time with your family can be hard to come by. Find ways to involve your whole household in at-home meal preparation to maximize your time with loved ones. Whether you’re trying to get your kids more involved with mindful eating practices or just trying to spend some extra time with your roommates, involving others is a great way to maintain those special bonds.

Switch It Up. Perhaps dinnertime doesn’t work for you and your family. Breakfast is also an excellent time to get the day started with your loved ones. Do what works for you -- it’s ultimately about demonstrating that you care through time with your loved ones.

Be a Grocery Shopaholic. Buying fresh ingredients can boost your health, but fresh ingredients can also rot quickly. Buying these items in less quantity but more frequently (on a weekly basis) can prevent spoilage. Try instituting a weekly trip -- it will make the shopping easier, shorter, and part of the household routine. Your grocery list will stay short, and a routine trip can help you avoid extra trips for forgotten items. 

Make a List. Heading into the grocery store without a game plan can lead to wandering off into the baking aisle. Cut your costs and eat better with a no-hassle, straightforward tool: a grocery list.

A great shopping trip nourishes you in more ways than one. With a stocked fridge and pantry, you can spend more time with your loved ones enjoying easier, healthier meals together.
 

Published on October 16, 2019 in What's Fresh in Science
  1. Dubowitz T, Cohen DA, Huang CY, Beckman RA, Collins RL. Using a Grocery List Is Associated With a Healthier Diet and Lower BMI Among Very High-Risk Adults. J Nutr Educ Behav. 2015;47(3):259–264. doi:10.1016/j.jneb.2015.01.005
  2. Wolfson, J. & Bleich, Sara. (2014). Is cooking at home associated with better diet quality or weight loss intention?. Public health nutrition. 18. doi:10.1017/S1368980014001943.
  3. Group, Hartman. “Desires, Barriers and Directions for Shared Meals at Home.” FMI Foundation, August 28, 2017. https://www.fmi.org/docs/default-source/familymeals/fmi-power-of-family-meals-whitepaper-for-web.pdf?sfvrsn=13d87f6e_2.
  4. Snow, C. E. and Beals, D. E. (2006), Mealtime talk that supports literacy development. New Directions for Child and Adolescent Development, 2006: 51-66. doi:10.1002/cd.155
  5. Hofferth, S. L. and Sandberg, J. F. (2001), How American Children Spend Their Time. Journal of Marriage and Family, 63: 295-308. doi:10.1111/j.1741-3737.2001.00295.x
  6. Family Dinner Meal Frequency and Adolescent Development: Relationships with Developmental Assets and High-Risk Behaviors. Fulkerson, Jayne A. et al. Journal of Adolescent Health, Volume 39, Issue 3, 337 - 345