Most people know cooking at home is a smarter choice than eating out, but have you ever stopped to question exactly why? It’s not just the health benefits! As it turns out, the benefits of cooking at home outweigh the excuses for eating out in a number of ways. With just a little bit of planning (or help from a meal service like HelloFresh), you can have a delicious and nutritious meal on the table in no time.
Research suggests time spent together around a dinner table leaves a lasting, positive impact on both children and adults. Preparing meals together provides countless opportunities to teach your family about nutrition and healthy relationships with food. If your family is busy, you don’t have to wait for the whole family to be home together. Even though having everyone is ideal, cook dinner with those present as there’s still plenty to gain — and the person coming home late probably appreciates a home-cooked meal to warm up when they arrive.
Have you ever gone to a restaurant and left thinking, “We could have made that better at home!”? Well, what are you waiting for? Spend time together in the kitchen preparing a dish inspired by your favorite restaurant meal. Some fun ideas include homemade pasta, pizza from scratch (cue the cute montage of you and your partner covered in flour for the dough) or maybe even some risotto (with lots of wine involved).
The only way to build confidence in the kitchen is to dive in and learn as you go. Cooking for yourself and your family gives you a deep sense of accomplishment even if you make something simple. The act of cooking a meal and having it turn out better than expected is incredibly rewarding. When you feel good, you’ll want to keep doing it to improve your skills and have a blast along the way!
If you’re anything like most families, you might eat at the same restaurants time and time again. Cooking at home gives you a chance to explore new flavors and discover new recipes to bring some excitement to the table. Trying new foods is also a great way to introduce creativity to your day. Cooking can be a fun outlet and also provides some stress relief from a busy day.
You might think of “meal prep” as grilled chicken breast, brown rice and broccoli, but it’s really just as simple as making a little more to eat later on. Double (or even quadruple) recipes to freeze for meals later in the week. You’ll be thanking yourself when soccer practice, late meetings and your spouse’s work trip all fall on the same day. For more tips, check out this guide to No-Fail Meal Prep and Batch Cooking.
Did you know most restaurants charge about 300% more than it costs to make the food? This means you’re paying $15 for a meal that costs the restaurant just $5. Even with the fanciest of ingredients, a home-cooked meal or a meal delivery kit is almost always cheaper. Plus, it is super easy to find healthy, budget-friendly recipes online. Save some money and stay in!
Cooking your own meals can definitely be healthier than eating out. In fact, meals prepared at home typically have fewer calories, saturated fat and sodium and more fiber and calcium compared to meals eaten out or picked up. Since you are in charge of what is going into your food, you can easily swap out ingredients to make a meal healthier.
Nothing is more frustrating than having a picky eater (or two) whine about the meal you just prepared, but an easy solution to combat this is to get children involved in cooking. Involving kids in the kitchen makes them much more likely to try new foods. Who wouldn’t want to try their own creation? Even if your kids are small, they can help by adding ingredients to the bowl, mixing, washing produce or setting the table.
At restaurants, we are often served portions that are three times bigger than a recommended serving. At home, we are in control of how much we serve ourselves and can easily pack up the rest of the food to eat as leftovers. It’s also easier to get into the habit of taking a moment to be mindful of the appearance, texture and flavor of your meal in your home, where the atmosphere is often quieter and more relaxed than a restaurant.
You can easily make cooking dinner a fun, rewarding family tradition. One fun idea is to let your kids select some new ingredients at the farmers market or local grocery store. You can create a recipe based on those ingredients and prepare the meal as a family. This is a fun way to eat local foods, try new ingredients and be creative together. Another fun idea is to celebrate themed nights, such as Meatless Monday, Taco Tuesday and Pizza Friday.
There are tons of reasons cooking at home is the right move for tonight’s dinner. Whether you spend some one-on-one time with your partner or dive into cooking local ingredients as a family, you’ll be sure to save some money, eat healthier and laugh a bunch.