Not much better times can be had than eating a good hearty meal with loved ones and discussing the latest news or just having a good laugh. But with the rising costs of food and transportation, people are becoming more cost conscious about where and what they eat. Essentially, the choices boil down to dining out, carry out (or delivery), and eating in. This article will give an overall look at how we choose to eat and will show how, despite public perception, dining out is actually more costly AND less convenient.
Dining out has become the norm nowadays in America. With the proliferation of long work hours, two income households, and extra-curricular activities for the kids, it is becoming increasingly difficult for families to prepare a meal at home. This shift in dynamics has led to a sharp increase in the number of fast food joints and restaurants, here to serve humanity and make a good amount of money in the process. Dining out usually costs two to four times more than it would cost to make the same meal at home. Add on top of that tips and transportation, dining out regularly can cost you. Not only does it cost you in money, it can also cost you two important things that you won't see the effects of until it's too late: your health and your family.
Fast food and restaurants are not exactly known for their healthful selections. Meat is usually highly processed, sodium levels can be through the roof, and many places give portions that can be enough to feed a small family. Eating at home can greatly increase the healthiness of your meal, as you can decide how much salt to add and how much food to serve. Using fresh ingredients will increase the taste and nutrition of your food, and it is the way God intended us to eat. It is no coincidence that the obesity epidemic started just around the time that fast food became the norm.
When we do decide to occasionally dine out, there are ways we can minimize the hit to our health. This idea may be blasphemy to some, but going to a halal place does not necessarily mean you have to eat mountains of meat. Eating vegetarian once in a while is great for your health, as we don't get many vegetables nowadays as it is. Your body will definitely thank you later for choosing the light veggie sub rather than the same overstuffed cheesesteak. Imam Ali (peace be upon him) has cautioned us not to make our stomachs the graveyards of animals. Moderation is key when it comes to meat consumption. Another way to save your health and some money is to ask to have half of your order be put in a take-out box right away. This will save you from eating too much and will give you another meal to have at a later time. These are just a couple of common sense ways to stay healthy even when eating out.
As mentioned earlier, with most families having two full-time incomes and not much time to enjoy their hard-earned money, eating meals as a family affair has become a rare, if not impossible, activity for some. This is truly a loss for society, because if the family unit is not cohesive, society will be negatively affected. According to the Archives of Pediatrics and Archives of Medicine, frequent family meals are associated with lower risks of smoking, drinking, drug use, and depression. It is also associated with better grades in school. This is probably the single most important reason to try to stay home and eat as a family as much as possible. There was once a time when eating out was associated with very special occasions, and this would actually make those meals out more memorable and enjoyable. With eating out being the norm nowadays, families are being affected in a negative way. Even if you are able to eat as a family just once a week, it is much better than not being around the dinner table at all.
Eating out frequently as a result of our fast paced lives seems to be a convenient option, but it is only convenient to the big wigs of fast food companies who are making billions of dollars at the expense of hard working people and their families. A community is simply made up of a group of families, and there is not better act to bring a family together than having a nice meal as a unit. It is in these family dinners that issues can be brought up, questions can be asked, or a lighthearted joke can be told. This is one step we can take that will bring our families together, save some money, and help our health in the long term. Eating together in the comfort of one's home is sure to cultivate affection and concern for each other, much more than eating an unhealthy meal in a faceless fast food place.