What’s your list of comfort foods?

Comfort food is defined as “ food that gives emotional comfort to the one eating it. These tend to be favorite foods of childhood, or linked to a person, place or time with which the food has a positive association.”

Comfort food used to be meatloaf and mashed potatoes, spaghetti and meatballs or a hearty casserole.

So, what’s your comfort food? Better yet: what will your children’s comfort food be?

These days, with so many convenience foods available, and with schedules being as busy as they are, it’s hard sometimes to justify the time and energy it takes to make a home-cooked meal. There are so many food options out there that are pre-packaged and ready to eat. They look tasty and say they are healthy, so why not take advantage of these products? They’ve been designed to help get meals on the table instantly without having to plan or take the time to cook. Right?

It’s actually too good to be true and we know it. Pre-packaged and processed foods have lots of things in them that are not going to kill us, but are not good for us either. Packaging is deceiving, and even ingredient labels can be hard to understand. It’s not the occasional Pop-Tart ® that’s bad for you, it’s the reliance on these products day in and day out that has consequences, the worst of which is that they become your family’s comfort food.

So, what are the top 4 comfort foods in America today? 
Are you ready for this?

  1. Pizza
  2. Ice cream
  3. Mac and cheese
  4. Chips

Yet, 90% of adults in America say there is nothing better than a home-cooked meal and 62% of adults say their favorite comfort food reminds them of their childhood. It's quite the contradiction.

What should we do about it?

The answer is to start cooking meals at home, but in a simpler way. A tasty home cooked meal can take less than a half hour to prepare. Sauté a chicken breast, blanch some broccoli, throw a good baguette on the table and call it done. The mindset about what it takes to qualify as a home-cooked meal needs to shift. We all know the health benefits of eating fresh food, but why aren’t we cooking? It’s because we think home-cooked means complicated.

Schedules these days may not allow for making elaborate roasts or stews, but don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. Make a healthy grilled cheese sandwich, an omelet or a simple pasta dish. When you make your own food, you have control over what goes into it, and that’s the name of the game. Here’s the good news — you won’t need to add “ thiamine mononitrate ” to your food.

Take the plunge. Use tools to help you get real food on the table. Technology is your friend. Put your grocery list on your smart phone and head to the store. Bring the kids so they can learn what a good head of broccoli looks like. Make simple meal plans that don’t involve lots of ingredients. Use modern tools to help you put plans together. If you have a plan and the ingredients to execute it, making a home-cooked meal is easy.

If you can form and develop the habit of cooking most meals at home, it could change your whole family’s relationship with food. Their comfort food will be something you created out of love, which they will appreciate and never forget. Guaranteed.

Cooking a meal may take a few more minutes then heating something up in the microwave, but it’s time well spent and a good investment in helping your loved ones develop a healthy lifestyle. Nothing says, “I care about you” more than walking in the door and smelling a meal being prepared. That is true comfort.

If you enjoyed this article and would like to share it with a friend, please do. At Meal5.com, our mission is to help people improve their eating habits and their health with simple, easy recipes and healthy meal plans. Thank you for taking time to read this article. Keep it simple. Eat well. Be happy.