Value…..if you really stop and think about the word, what is the first thing that comes to mind? The way we as a society tend to define value these days seems just a bit warped to me. When did our society become so misled and misfed that the idea of value became “more is better” and “bigger is better?” When did we decide to define value strictly on the basis of cost? Restaurants and convenience food manufacturers keep making food portions bigger and bigger and the ingredients just seem to get worse and worse.
Even on television, we make a sport out of being able to eat insane portions of food. I can think of at least three shows on right now that celebrate gluttony. What is going on? In the day of our grandparents, there was great value in growing and gathering and preparing good meals with little to no processing and the obesity rates were nowhere near what they are today.
This whole idea of wanting more and more for less and less, and wanting it faster and faster is exactly WHY we are becoming one of the most obese nations in the world. At what point did it become acceptable to define value as simply the price of something compared to the quantity? VALUE MEALS??? – What “value” is there in a meal that is filled with fat, sugar, preservatives, chemicals, and little to no nutrients? Why do we buy into the idea that cheap= good value?
If we really want to tackle the issue of obesity in this country and especially childhood obesity, we have first got to redefine what true value is for each of us. I hear people say to me all the time “Erin, it is just too expensive and takes too long to cook and eat healthy meals. We are a busy family and just do not have time.” Well, pardon my French but I call BS on that one.
Trust me, I know all about life being busy. My kids are all involved in sports and different clubs and organizations and my husband is very involved in his Mardi Gras society and so we know ALL ABOUT having a household of people all running in different directions. It all boils down to priorities. The same people who are telling me they do not have time to cook a healthy meal are the same ones who I know spend at least 2-3 hours a day watching television. I have a real problem with parents who feed their kids processed fatty garbage on a daily basis because of what they call “time constraints” but find the time to watch TV. Am I the only one who sees a problem with this?
There are many times for us during the week that we really are so crazy busy that there is not a lot of time for cooking. This is why we often cook on Sunday for the week and put meals in the freezer. This can turn into a great weekly family project. Let the kids help plan the meals and then spend a Sunday afternoon together in the kitchen preparing your meals for the week. This does much more good than you realize. You are not only teaching your kids to cook, which will help them avoid a life of fast food and obesity, but you are also spending quality time as a family. When kids take ownership and feel the sense of pride that comes with helping ti prepare the family meal, they will eat better. What kid would rather hit the drive-thru than help cook a good meal? Not many!
For the same two hours that you all spend watching a movie together, spend that two hours cooking and see how much fun you have. Life is all about priorities and there is always time to do the things we want to do, the question is WHAT do we REALLY WANT to do and make time for doing?
We are bringing up a generation that is the most obese in this nation’s history and that is such a huge disservice to our kids. For many American kids, a home-cooked meal is a treat and fast-food is the norm. There is absolutely no VALUE in pumping fast food burgers and deep fried potatoes and sugar-laden sodas into our families.
A lot of people also try to use the excuse of cost when defending the choice to eat fast food three times a week. Good food does not have to cost a fortune. We have two kids still in the home. if I were to take them to McDonalds and get the four of us value meals, the total bill would be about 20-25 dollars. For less than 15 dollars, I can go to Wal Mart and get several different meals that are nutrient-dense and healthy and even feed us more than one meal in some cases.
Take a look at these meals that cost less for a family of four than a “VALUE” meal at a fast food joint-
Red beans with ham and brown rice-
Baked chicken with green beans and a salad
Whole wheat spaghetti with marinara sauce
Sugar free teriyaki chicken with brown rice
I could go on and on and on. Don’t get me wrong, we still like to eat out and do that about once a week. We do not eat out at burger joints, but at restaurants where we can get a good healthy meal. To me, there is great value in going to a restaurant and sitting down to a freshly prepared meal that is healthy and enjoying the atmosphere and great conversation. This can also be done on a budget. Every city has coupons and deals and offers that can make eating out less pricey. If you really think about the portions most places serve, you can share an entree with your someone and both have PLENTY of food at most restaurants.
The value of what we put into our mouths and what we feed our families and spend money on should be defined by more than just the price. Processed convenience foods in most cases do not have much nutritional value or even cost value when you think about what is in them. Going and buying fresh or frozen veggies and fruits and using that instead of canned does not cost that much more.
For my family it is all about priorities. I refuse to go to Starbucks and pay five dollars for a coffee that is usually too strong and bitter. My husband is a way better barista than any of them anyway! I make my coffee drinks at home and use that money for other things. It absolutely kills me to hear people saying they cannot afford to cook healthy for their family as they sip a $5.00 latte. ARE YOU KIDDING ME???
The bottom line is that value has very little to do with price. How much value is there in a really cheap car that doesn’t run? We should place the same, if not MORE importance on what we fuel our bodies with each day. We only get one body and when we all decided to lose a large amount of weight and start recovering from obesity, we were given a second chance and should never take that for granted. We also have an obligation to our kids to fuel them properly and avoid sending them down the unhealthy path we took that led to disease and morbid obesity.
I could NEVER in good conscience sit and eat a healthy meal as my children chowed down on junk food! If the healthy food costs a little bit more in some cases, PAY it. If it takes a little longer to prepare healthy meals, DO it! In the long run, the investment in your health and the health of your family will turn out to be priceless!