Food Nanny, Liz Edmunds. I knew enough about her to feel privileged that she came to my small town to give (at least one) free presentation, and left feeling inspired. I also felt validated about the way I prioritize meals for my family and cook from scratch. While she is more lax on healthful foods than I am (most people are), she left me with things to think about.
Liz quoted lots of statistics that floored me. For example, right now in the U.S. the average American goes out to eat 5 times a week. Seriously?! Wow. I don't know how people afford that, not to mention the fact that, as Liz stated, when people eat out they typically eat 30-50% more calories than they would at home.
But that's not the worst of it.
As Liz explained, the deterioration of the family and its link to the deterioration of society can be traced, in part, back to the disintegration of family dinnertime. When families eat dinner together at least 3 times a week, their kids are less likely to get into trouble with drugs, promiscuity, etc, and learn important things like morals, manners, and how to have conversations. That's amazing! But it makes sense. And as Liz put it, even if you didn't know how to cook (or didn't like to), wouldn't this alone be enough reason to do it?!
I have always made dinner an important part of the day and after almost nine years feel validated about this in a way I never have before, after listening to Liz. Sometimes people ask me how I have time to cook from scratch all the time, but it's really a matter of priorities. I always plan for about an hour and a half for dinner preparations. I don't love cooking, but this is a priority I have always made in my daily schedule. Often it takes less time, sometimes more. Liz talked about that, too: It's okay for dinner to take more than 10 or 20 minutes to prepare. That made me realize that maybe people need to hear that more! Good, healthful food often takes longer than 30 minutes to make, but that's not a bad thing. Just plan for it and make the necessary adjustments; your family will thank you.
Another topic I felt validated on was budgeting and its relationship to home cooking. I've said it often and Liz says it too: "When you cook on a consistent basis, you're saving your family. You're saving your budget!" She also said, "If there's one place you can save money, it's on food by cooking from scratch." Once you've accumulated the basic ingredients that the majority of recipes call for, shopping only entails catching up on what you've run out of here and there. (I said that here on my very first post!) As she pointed out, this means breakfast (at least) costs next to nothing. That's certainly been true for us for years!
Another thing Liz talked about that I hadn't really thought of before was the fact that if you're grazing all day (I've never been an advocate of grazing), you won't be that hungry at mealtimes and, "You have to be hungry to cook." Your family will be hungry, so you'd better be too, to cook what they need.
My favorite quotes from Liz that night:
"Diets don't work long-term. The only thing that works is lifestyle." Amen!
"We work outside the home to make a living. We work inside the home to make a life." I love this!