If you’re anything like I used to be, home cooked meals are a rare occurrence. With our over-busy, over-stressed lifestyles, many of us don’t even have the time to eat at home, let alone cook! After a long day at work and taking care of family/friend/household obligations, who has the time (or energy!) to prepare an entire meal?
And what about the cooking skills? Home economics classes are nearly extinct, and many of us grew up with working parents who didn’t have much time to cook, either. So no one ever even taught us the basic cooking skills we need to be able to get a meal on the table! It’s no wonder that in order to satisfy our basic need for sustenance, we rely heavily on convenience foods, fast food and takeout, and it’s beginning to take a toll on our health, happiness and bank accounts.
As someone who used to rely heavily on foods from a box, bag or drive-through window, but has developed a strong healthy home cooking habit (despite my busy lifestyle) – I’m on a mission to help you learn the skills to get quick, healthy home cooked meals on your table every day, despite your busy lifestyle.
In case you need any convincing why cooking at home is the best for your health, wallet AND your schedule, here are 7 benefits to home cooked meals:
1. Cooking meals at home is healthier.
Cooking at home with whole ingredients ensures you know exactly what you are eating. Thus, it reduces your consumption of salt, sugar and bad fats, as well as artificial ingredients, preservatives and “flavors.” Even most “healthy” pre-made or restaurant meals can’t say that. They often contain ingredients designed to “enhance flavor” that your body doesn’t recognize and can’t process properly.
Though, eating healthy isn’t just about avoiding “bad” ingredients. It’s also about making sure you’re properly nourished. Home cooked meals give you the opportunity to incorporate more healthful, nourishing ingredients rich in vitamins and minerals.
2. Home cooked meals reduce your risk for food allergies or sensitivities.
If you have any known food allergies or sensitivities, cooking at home reduces your potential for accidentally consuming a food you are allergic or sensitive to. Sadly, even many commercially prepared foods that claim to be free of a particular ingredient are not. They are often prepared on shared equipment (thus have the potential for cross-contact) and are not properly monitored for compliance with food labeling. Gluten, dairy and soy are notorious for this.
Likewise, many restaurants just aren’t properly trained to avoid cross-contact with food allergens (or may not even know what ingredients actually contain the allergen!), despite claiming to be free of a particular ingredient. (I come across this every time I go out to eat at a restaurant that claims to have gluten free options – unless the whole facility is gluten free).
Preparing your meals at home with whole ingredients reduces your risk.
3. Cooking at home means you get to cook what you like.
If you don’t like something, you don’t have to cook it! It’s your kitchen. Do with it what you please. Plus, learning to cook at home allows you the opportunity to experiment with ingredients and flavors that may just open you up to a whole new world of food you didn’t even know existed!
4. Home cooked meals taste better.
Nothing quite compares to a home cooked meal, made with fresh, whole ingredients, does it? Even if you’re new to the world of cooking at home, with just a little practice, your meals will far surpass any meal you pick up at a restaurant. And I’m willing to bet they already far surpass any meal you can pick up in the frozen food section of your local grocery store.
5. Cooking at home saves money.
This one’s kind of a no-brainer, but many people still believe that healthy eating costs more than fast food or take-out. As a former fast-food junkie, I’m here to tell you that simple, home-cooked meals with whole foods ingredients cost loads less than eating out or buying pre-made meals.
6. Cooking at home saves time.
It may seem counter-intuitive, but planning, preparing and eating home cooked meals actually takes less time than grabbing fast food or takeout on a regular basis. If you can learn to streamline your meal-planning, grocery shopping, meal-prepping, and batch-cooking, I promise it will take you less time to eat home-cooked meals for every meal of the day than it will to pick up fast-food. (If you don’t believe me, keep reading this blog for recipes, tips and tricks to reduce your time in the kitchen, while still eating home cooked meals every day).
7. Cooking at home helps you build healthy habits that last a lifetime.
This is the biggest benefit to learning to cook simple healthy meals at home, in my opinion. If you get in the habit of cooking healthy meals at home, you are well on your way to a healthy lifestyle that lasts a lifetime. Alternatively, if, in an effort to eat healthy, you rely on meal-replacement shakes, bars or pre-made meals, how long do you plan on relying on those things? Do they even taste good? What happens when these things no longer work for you? Do you just go right back to your previous unhealthy eating habits? If you can learn to whip together simple, tasty, nutritious meals in minutes, you never have to rely on these boring, temporary solutions ever again. And you can stick to your healthy eating habits, no matter what life throws at you.
Check out the recipes section of this blog for quick and easy healthy recipes that even the most novice cook can make!
What’s your main reason for wanting to learn how to cook at home more often? Share in the comments! ??