Last year, Americans were astounded when it was revealed that spending at restaurants had surpassed grocery store spending for the first time in history.

Such an occurrence wasn’t a flash in the pan, either. Spending on meals out has continued to outpace grocery store spending over the last year, a recent Quartz article noted.

As Quartz goes on to say, such a trend is decidedly detrimental to America’s waistline, particularly since eating out often provides more calories and foods rich in unhealthy items.

But is poor health the only negative side effect that excessive eating out brings?

Not necessarily. Here are three differences to consider between eating at home and eating out:

1. Communication Catalyst
At a restaurant families are forced to be on their best behavior. While this is good, a steady diet of “best behavior” (which, let’s be honest, doesn’t happen and leaves us in embarrassing situations) can easily diminish family communication and conversations about serious topics. At home, families can discuss issues in private, unafraid to broach a sensitive subject that might otherwise turn into an entire restaurant’s entertainment for the evening.

2. Picky-eater Pestilence
Regular eating out also trains children to be picky eaters because they get to choose what they want to eat – often from a kid-friendly menu. By eating at home, however, children learn that their mother is not a short-order cook and that they need to eat what is placed before them.

3. Training Tools
Finally, eating out removes valuable training opportunities for children. Many of today’s young adults were raised in the car-pool generation in which both parents worked, children were in a plethora of activities, and dinner was often eaten on the fly. As a result, many millennials are realizing that they feel lost in the kitchen. Parents who make meals at home a priority have the opportunity to train their children in the disappearing skill of cooking, while simultaneously building relationships.

Is it time we overlook the convenience of a restaurant and take the time to slow down and spend time teaching our children around our own kitchen tables? 

Image Credit: Envisioning the American Dream