With the hustle and bustle of everyday life, we often find ourselves
pressed for time to cook at home or to even make it to the grocery store. The convenience of fast food, takeouts, or going to a restaurant is very tempting. However, there are several reasons why cooking at home is a healthier and more favorable choice.
There are clear health benefits to eating at home that go beyond saving money. Cooking at home places unique considerations on our food choices from a nutrition standpoint. At the grocery store, we are forced to make conscious decisions about what foods we buy. While the food we eat at restaurants or fast food joints is based on what taste or sounds good, this decision leaves little room for us to think about what kind of nutrition there is in them meals for our bodies.
Cooking at home gives us an opportunity to choose exactly how our food is prepared and by doing this we can eliminate excess fats, sugars, salt, and other unhealthy options. For example instead of deep frying our dinner, we can choose to bake it. Rather than a side of fries, we can have veggies instead.
Not only does cooking at home help us make healthier choices for our food, but we can also determine the macronutrient (fat, carbohydrate, and protein) and micronutrient (vitamins and minerals) composition of our meals, which are very important for meeting our dietary needs and maintaining a well-balanced diet. Taking time to cook doesn’t have to be a chore! Cooking can be a fun family activity in which everyone can participate. I’m not saying you can never go out to eat. Going out to eat for a special occasion or as a weekend treat for the family can be good, but the health benefits and cost-effectiveness of cooking at home on a regular basis are great incentives to make it a healthy habit.
Along with having control over the nutrition of your food, cooking at home also allows you to have control over the portion you cook and eat. The portions of food the restaurant serves are usually always larger portions than what your body needs. If you’re anything like me, you find yourself compelled to finish the entire meal because you don’t want to waste the food. Cooking at home makes it easy to practice simple habits that can help you be more mindful of your portion and overall consumption by using a smaller plate. By being careful of the amount you consume, you can avoid overeating and take in extra calories which can lead to unhealthy weight gain.
Portioning your food is not only limited to the meal at hand, but it also means you can pre-portion leftovers for lunch the next day or you can even freeze it for later use. Another thing I do is cook food in bulk and prepare meals for several days, this will help make buying food less tempting and help keep your portions on track.