If your life feels crazy, these three tips can help you regain some balance, according to Arizona Republic columnist Joanna Allhands.
Turns out that Mom really does know best.
We thought she was just being a nag requiring that everyone be home for dinner at 6 p.m. Everyday. For years.
Well, it appears she was on to something, as the Family Dinner Project at Harvard University shows there are scientific benefits for parents and children who eat dinner together, even if just a few days a week.
Project researchers over a 15-year period confirmed that there are “many physical, mental-health and academic benefits of family dinners,” Program Executive Director Lynn Bardensen says.
Researchers link regular family meals to benefits including:
- Healthier eating habits.
- Lower risk of drug abuse.
- Less risk of teen pregnancy.
- Lower rates of depression and anxiety.
- Stronger resilience and self-esteem.
- Higher grade-point averages and better vocabularies.
Finding time for family dinners
But who has time to cook? We have to battle Interstate 10 traffic, stop at the dry cleaners, pick up kids from baseball practice, go to the pharmacy, answer more work emails when we get home, and the list goes on.
The average American full-time worker puts in about 47 hours per week, according to a 2013-14 Gallup poll.
Rather than pick up fast food on the way home from practice, enlist the help of one of the Southeast Valley’s growing number of meal providers and services.
At Eat Fit Go in Chandler, gleaming cases of healthy prepared meals are ideal for families on the run. Or if you’d rather have dinner delivered, steaming trays of Italian classics arrive courtesy of Joanne’s Catering & Weekly Meals.
Here’s a list of options — and chalk up another victory for mom. We’ll be home at 6.
pFounder Steve Fleming combines his interests in cooking and nutrition with a background as a former high-level athlete to create meals “tailored by portion and ingredient preferences to each individual,” he says.
Healthful, lean options clearly are the focus of each of four plans — Lifestyle (well-balanced), Accelerated (low-carb), Paleo (whole foods, hunter-gather philosophy) and Advanced (for athletes or doctor-recommended diets).
Plans include breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks, but customers choose what they want online and omit what they don’t.
Fleming says popular dinner entrees include blackened salmon, the turkey burger and the mixed greens chicken salad, which is a mixture of romaine and spring mix greens, shredded chicken, raspberries, dried strawberries, feta, sliced almonds, pumpkin seeds and a raspberry vinaigrette. Yum!
All meals are individual portions, served in microwave-safe containers. A family of four costs about $35 per dinner. Valleywide deliveries arrive Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday.
1940 W. Elliot Road, Suite 101, Gilbert. 602-314-5955. www.yourleanlifestyle.com.
Eat Fit Go
Add this to your list of stops on the way home. Though delivery isn’t an option from this Omaha, Neb.-based chain, you can get in and out in minutes with neatly-presented, clear, plastic-topped boxes of healthy fare.
The menu and meal labels are color-coded: orange for breakfast, green for lunch or dinner. Most meals are under 600 calories with detailed nutritional information listed on the menu, and range from $8 to $12 depending if you want a small or large portion.
Scanning through the sparkling refrigerated cases, grab a salmon alfredo for mom, steak and potatoes for dad ($10.75 each for the small portions) and two small portions of “get yo mac on” ($8.50 each), which features ground turkey, gluten-free pasta, diced onions and cheddar cheese. Dinner is done.
4050 S. Alma School Road, Suite 3, Chandler. 480-404-9743. www.eatfitgo.com.
Chef Noon Culinary Services
It sounds cost-prohibitive to have a private chef visit your home and prepare exotic meals, but that’s not necessarily the case with the help of Chandler-based Rafael “Chef Noon” and Jenny Colon.
“The average cost for a family of four eating five to six dinners a week made by a personal chef is around $250 plus the cost of groceries,” Jenny Colon says.
The team buys groceries, travels to your home, prepares the meals, packs them up for refrigeration or the freezer, and cleans everything up. Crazy, right?
Each client’s weekly menu is customized for their specific needs, including paleo, low-carb, dairy-free, keto and gluten-free.
“However, some of our more popular dishes include chicken stuffed with basil, mozzarella and roasted red peppers, or herb-roasted turkey breast with roasted brussel sprouts in olive oil topped with bacon pieces,” Jenny Colon says. “We also get repeat requests for Chef’s cauliflower mashed potatoes.”
Fuel to Fit
A focus on nutrient-rich ingredients, high-protein, low glycemic carbs and healthy fats distinguishes this Scottsdale-based meal provider operated by Franchesca Gonzales.
“We tend to stay away from sugary sauces and instead focus on using spices and herbs to create delicious, healthy meals to fuel your body the right way,” she says.
Fuel to Fit delivers its individually packaged meals in BPA-free, microwave-safe containers on Mondays and Wednesdays, and posts its weekly menu every Thursday on social media and through customer email.
Another innovative option is to pool group discounts with co-workers or family members delivering to one address. Five to eight regular- and large-size meals cost $9 and $11 respectively, but that price drops when you purchase 12 or more meals to $7 and $9 each.
Joanne’s Catering & Weekly Meals
Imagine owner Rose Spataro-Peterson making a big Italian meal for her extended family: steaming trays of eggplant parmesan, fettuccini alfredo with chicken and classic lasagna being passed around.
Now picture that same food in front of your family. Well, that’s what you should expect from this Chandler-based caterer.
But it’s not just Italian food. You can pick up or have delivered complete roast beef dinners, jalapeno popper chicken and other ready-made meals on three days’ notice, she says.
Full meals that feed six to 10 people range from $30 to $50; half-orders cost $15 to $30 and satisfy four to six diners.
480-338-6184. Join the Facebook group JoannesWeeklyMeals.
Owner Laura Prefling says Dream Dinners customers “have the option to assemble their own dinners in-store, tailoring it specifically to their family’s tastes, or having us assemble their order for them to simply pick up.” And their specialty is family-style fare rather than individual portions.
Prefling says popular entrees include herb crusted flank steak, crispy French onion chicken, firehouse three cheese pasta with meatballs, arroz con pollo, pub style chicken with mashed potatoes, pesto chicken stuffed French bread and pecan crusted pork chops.
You can walk into Dream Dinners and walk out with an entire month of family dinners. Meals cost $5-$6 per serving, Prefling says, and the menu changes every month.
3820 E. Ray Road, Ahwatukee. 480-704-5312. www.dreamdinners.com.
Now you really don’t have an excuse to not have dinner at home.
Choose from all your local grocers — and their prepared foods departments — like Safeway, Fry’s, Bashas’, Whole Foods, Costco, Natural Grocers and others, and have dinner delivered within a set time frame, usually one hour.
How about those juicy Costco rotisserie chickens you love so much? Done. Add the Asian chopped salad kit, some Hawaiian rolls, heck, throw in a case of Haagen Dazs ice cream bars and the kids will have nothing to complain about.
Have all of the aforementioned delivered for about $30. Bashas’ also delivers booze, so order everything for dinner like a pizza, chicken wings, salad, and a six-pack of Four Peaks. Instacart is a game-changer.
Read or Share this story: http://azc.cc/2sDtpUm