There are clear health benefits to eating at home that go beyond saving money.
With the hustle and bustle of everyday life, we often find ourselves pressed for time to cook at home, or to even make our way to the grocery store. The convenience of fast-food joints, takeout or eating out at restaurants can be tempting. However, there are several reasons why cooking at home is a healthier and more favorable choice compared to other options.
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 to buy. While our choices can be primarily fueled by taste when we go out to eat, this often leaves little room to think about how nutritious the meal is for our bodies.
Cooking at home provides an opportunity to choose exactly how our food is prepared and as a result, eliminates excess fats, sugars, salt and other unhealthy options. Instead of deep frying our dinner, we can choose to bake it. Rather than the side of fries, we can opt for veggies.
Not only does this help make our decisions regarding food more health- and nutrition- focused, we can also determine the macronutrient (fat, carbohydrate and protein) and micronutrient (vitamins and minerals) composition of our meals, which are important for meeting our dietary needs and maintaining a balanced diet.
Carving out some time to cook doesn’t have to be a chore.
Cooking can be a fun family activity in which everyone can participate. Going out to eat for special occasions or as a weekend treat is still warranted, but the health benefits and cost effectiveness of cooking at home on a regular basis are great incentives to make it a healthy habit.
In conjunction with increased control over nutrition, cooking at home allows for better portion control. Often times, restaurant portions are larger than what is recommended. If you find yourself compelled to finish your entire entrée, preparing your food at home makes it easy to practice simple habits that can help you be more mindful of your portion and overall consumption, such as using a smaller plate. By appropriately sizing your portions, you can avoid overconsuming 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 following day or even freeze them as an emergency meal for when time is really limited. Another idea is to cook food in bulk and prepare your meals for several days. Having meals on hand will make buying food less tempting and help keep your portions on track.
Buy in bulk
Buying groceries in bulk can be worrisome if you always end up throwing out expired food. However, consistently cooking at home allows you to buy groceries in bulk with the peace of mind that you and your family can consume all the groceries well before they expire.
There are two great reasons buying in bulk is an advantageous choice compared to shopping at your local grocery store. Not only will it help to save time since you won’t have to visit the grocery store as often, but wholesale prices are usually heavily discounted, helping to save you money.
Katherine Au, M.S., graduated from Georgetown University with a M.S. in Physiology and Biophysics. She is passionate about holistic, wellness-based approaches to health. An avid fitness enthusiast and nutrition writer for Engaged Eating — Considerations for savvy food consumers, she hopes to spread her passion for nutrition and living a healthy lifestyle.