Sitting down to eat a good meal at home used to be the way we all ate. And while the picture of the whole family gathering around the dinner table to share a meal sometimes feels like days gone by, cooking at home is making a comeback. If you typically reach for a phone or the car keys around dinner time, you may want to reconsider.
Cooking at home can have many benefits for you and your family:
- Time saved: Yes, it does take time to prepare meals but often less time than the trip to the drive-through (and waiting in line) or the time it takes to get served at a restaurant.
- Money saved: You generally get much more for your food dollar if you make the food yourself. And, because you save money when you cook at home, you can buy better-quality food.
- Healthier ingredients: When you are in control of everything that goes into your food, you can make healthier choices. Home-cooked food is less processed and contains less sugar, salt, and trans fats, plus it has more vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats.
- Fewer food allergies and sensitivities: Once again, you are in control. So you can keep the common food allergens—corn, dairy, nuts, and wheat as well as food dyes, preservatives, and additives—out.
- Portion control: Restaurant owners learned long ago that their smallest expense is the cost of the food they serve (More money is spent on employees, rent, utilities, and other costs of doing business). Because food is cheap, they make portions large. Many studies show portion size has increased over the last few years.[i]
- Fewer temptations: When a friendly server asks you if you want a drink, a side dish, the supersized option, or (of course) dessert, who can say no?
- Reduced carbon footprint: Cooking at home means you are using less energy to feed your family, which is good for our environment.
Eating has always been a social event, a time to gather and share. When you focus on making meals at home, you bring the family together without the distractions (music, television, noisy conversation) of eating out.
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[i] Young LR, Nestle M. The contribution of expanding portion sizes to the US obesity epidemic. American Journal of Public Health. 2002 Feb;92(2):246-9.