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Eating Out vs. Home Cooking

What is good for our kids and good for our planet?

Although traveling is treasured by our family, eating out for most meals can get tiring after awhile.  Away from home for six nights during spring break, we were eager to return to our routine.  Even my youngest daughter, quite a foodie these days, exclaimed during our return trip that she looked forward to my dinners.  That put a huge smile on my face.

After this trip, I noted that although eating out is a treat and often a welcome escape from the "grind" of work week and school week demands. But if you've been away from your kitchen for any length of time, coming home can be both a blessing of health and greener practices.

I'm sure you've all heard that eating out usually means eating more. If it's a sitdown meal, you will most likely be offered bread before your dinner is served and you may give in to the urge to order richer, heavier foods since you're out - which is, after all, a special occasion.  Portion sizes are usually larger than what you would serve yourself at home.  And how can we forget the temptation to order dessert, even if it's just one for all to share?

If it's a buffet, of course you'll be eating more. If it's fast or convenience food, those portions tend to be larger as well, not to mention cooked with more salt and fat than you'd probably use in your own kitchen. Definitely not as healthy as a home-cooked meal.

But eating out is also harder on our environment. These days, many restaurants frequented by tourists on the go set aside the more formal options, use plastic or paper everything: cutlery, cups, napkins and plates. 

Even though I no longer worrry about my kids spilling their drinks, they are still often served in plastic cups with lids and a straw. I often wonder why that habit has become so acceptable. To think of all the disposables generated by one meal for a family of four! 

The disposables at airports alone are overwhelming. How should this problem be tackled? Should there be more formal eateries that use real cutlery and glasses and less convenience-food options?  Should more people travel with food from home?

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