Start your year feeling wonderful: why family meals can actually boost your well-being.

Ready to start this year feeling wonderful? Just the simple act of cooking and eating a meal together can brighten up everyone’s day.

Looking to boost your family’s well-being? It’s a bit of a cliche that the way to someone’s heart is through their stomach...but there are increasing indications that not only is that true, cooking is also a powerful tool for boosting their happiness. There are lots of reasons to cook together: it’s a delicious way to add structure to your day; it’s creative; it connects you to your roots and—perhaps most importantly, gives you a way to spend time together that’s relaxed and fun. Put all of that together and it’s easy to see how cooking boosts everyone’s well-being.

OK, but why does cooking together make us feel better? Some studies indicate it has to do with the structure that goes along with cooking, and the feeling of control cooking gives us: there’s a lot of power in the simple confidence that no matter what else is happening during your day, if you patiently work through a certain set of steps, with a certain set of ingredients, you’ll end up with something wonderful to eat. And once you have a little experience at cooking, there’s certainly something meditative about coming home from a busy day, and slowing down together to prepare a meal. It adds consistency to busy days that helps the family take a break to spend time with each other. 

While sometimes it's tempting to shoo your kids out of the kitchen at the end of the day, it’s clear that children—especially children dealing with anxiety—benefit greatly both from participating in preparing a meal, and enjoying it with you. To read more about cooking and its advantages for kids, check out our post on 5 life skills your child can learn in the kitchen, as well as our post on how after-school cooking can help anxious kids feel better. And we’ve got loads of fun ideas for weekend or after-school cooking projects—check out this round up of enough activities to fill an entire spring break as well as the end of this post for more ideas.

Home-cooked meals reinforce good feelings like gratitude, and gives families an opportunity to practice gratitude (one of the key practices that improves your sense of well being!) What you eat is also a great way to ground your family by connecting with your roots. We’ve talked about some innovative BC projects that uplift cooking as a way to connect to tradition—check out our posts on Vancouver’s hua foundation’s grandma-led cooking workshops, and on exploring your heritage through family recipes. And shared meal time in the kitchen can help you create a beautiful future together too—as we’ve said before, the dish you make together tonight just might be the start of a delicious new family tradition!

With that in mind, get your year off to a nourishing start together. We’ve got loads of recipes to inspire your in our recipe archive as well as these ideas for fun projects to get you started:
* Get cosy when the next storm hits with these storm cooking ideas to keep your family busy and happy
* School’s a snap when the kitchen is your teacher: we’ve got afterschool cooking projects to help with every subject (including math!) as well as tutorials on how to get your kids started in the kitchen.
* Play with your food: we’ve got six dinners for Lego lovers that the whole family will enjoy assembling.

For more ideas, follow us on Facebook and Instagram. We’d love to hear your ideas and recipes for favourite family cooking projects (and we’re here with advice if you’re hesitant about how to get started - just message us!).

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