Home Cooking or Eating Out
It has been reported that almost 61 percent of people eat at restaurants at least once per week. The same poll found that there were frequent diners who ate out three to more times per week! What about you? How often do you eat out?
Obesity in the American population has not plateaued yet, in fact, it continues to increase. Eating away from home has been identified as one of the culprits. Portion size and preparation techniques of restaurant food has been found to be contributory. Paradoxically, studies show that those who cook at home have a decreased risk for obesity and the related illnesses, like diabetes type 2. Home cooking often results in healthier fare with fewer calories. In my book Second Chance at Health-Learn to Love Active Living and Clean Eating, I offer guidance on programs that are perfect for home cooking!
The Western lifestyle would seem to necessitate this eating pattern. Long hours at work, after school activities and fatigue all play a role in succumbing to the ease of driving through the fast food lane, or stopping to pick something up. Does this sound like you? If this sounds like you, keep reading, I am going to offer you some simple ideas about how and why to begin cooking and eating at home.
As a health professional and a blogger making these suggestions falls right in line with my patient care paradigm. I outline the easiest way to transition to cooking and eating at home.
Cooking and Eating at Home is Healthier
Cooking at home is less expensive and healthier. It is less expensive because you can use sales and coupons to maximize your budget. It is healthier because you are in charge of the additional sugar, salt and fat content. We also tend to eat smaller portions when we eat at home. Cooking at home can easily be done on a budget as well.
Why Do We Eat Out So Often?
As I talk about in my book, Second Chance at Health- Learn to Love Active Living and Clean Eating, taking the time to identify your own barriers to change is paramount. Without understanding the ‘Why” makes in harder to move onto the “How”. What are your barriers? Do you feel like you have limited time to shop and prepare? Or do you lack of skills and confidence? Do you not like to cook? All of these and more have been reported and barriers to home cooking.
Begin simply! Take These Steps to Begin Cooking at Home
First, make a commitment and plan to cook and eat at home 2 additional days a week if you eat out more than 3 times per week. The final goal should be to cook and eat at home 5 times per week. Set a date and circle it on your calendar.
Second, stock up on common home cooking staples for the pantry and the fridge. By having the staples available it can be less tempting to throw in the towel and head out to the fast food restaurant. Here is a list of staples that I found useful. Click on the link and print it and use it to restock your kitchen. Well Stocked Pantry
Third, design your menu. For the first month, I suggest making the foods that you ate growing up! These recipes and cooking techniques should be familiar to you! Don’t spend too much time worrying about nutrition content during the first few weeks! Just enjoy the food memories!
Forth, generate your grocery list using your menu. If you cited that you have limited time to shop, the use one of the shopping apps that most grocery stores are offering now! If you cites limited time for preparation, utilize the already prepped food such as pre-cut vegetables, pre-cut meats, or even the pre-packaged fresh meals!
Face Your Fears
If you lack the skills and confidence to cook, you have options here to. My first suggestion is to stop being so hard on yourself. Practice makes perfect, and unless you are planning to try out for Chopped, most home cooks can dice and saute more than adequately. Your confidence will increase as you continue. My second suggestion is to follow a recipe. Exactly. Don’t attempt to substitute an ingredient or spice. I speak from experience. And if the meal you have prepared is inedible, you can resort to a PB&J (again I speak from experience).
Use Home Delivery Meals
If you simply do not like to cook, which is ME! I use a meal delivery program called Blue Apron. I can follow the recipe and have an amazing meal to the table within 30-40 minutes. These meals rival many meals I have eaten at restaurants.
On a Budget? No Problem!
Cooking at home on a budget can also be accomplished. When money is tight, I suggest generating your weekly menu based on the grocery store sales. If chicken is on sale this week, chicken it is. If the beef or pork shoulder is on sale, then find your recipes that include those ingredients.
Use technology to your advantage, you can find recipes that have been tried on Pinterest. There are also meal planning apps. Try this one. Eat at Home. Or this site has already done the work of finding the top 5 apps! Five Best Meal Planning Apps.
One More Important Benefit
Another benefit of home cooking is improved relationships! Cooking along side your spouse or children can result in conversations that may not have occurred in a noisy restaurant! You can improve your family’s physical health and emotional connection! Now is the time to take care of your health and your families health. Buying food from the grocery store is less expensive than eating at a restaurant. Use my tips to begin cooking at home!
Here is one of my average week dinner plan:
Monday: Blue Apron Meal
Tuesday: Blue Apron Meal
Wednesday: Blue Apron Meal
Thursday: Breakfast for Dinner: usually eggs and pancakes 🙂
Friday: Oven baked crispy chicken wings and celery
The weekend meals are usually breakfast and late lunch so we don’t eat dinner. If we are on the sail boat, our go to is simple Pb&J sandwiches, or hummus and vegetables.
Keep it simple, and don’t over think it. Try to simplify your life. Give yourself time to slow down and enjoy the time at home around the kitchen table. Fitness after 40 is not only about exercise, it is about balance.
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