We all love home cooked meals, and with good reason! Home cooking is healthier and tastier than fast food, store bought food, and even the food you’re being served at most restaurants.
Even so, eating out offers the path of least resistance for people who (mistakenly) believe that home cooking takes too much time and effort. In fact, several social-dining apps such as AirDine, EatWith and Feastly have popped up in recent years offering travelers home-cooked meals prepared by locals.
But as much as people love home cooking, it appears most of them are still a bit uncomfortable sitting at a stranger’s table and, as a result, many of these apps have had difficulty attracting users and are either rethinking their strategy, or have gone out of business altogether.
The truth is, once you understand which ingredients to keep stocked in your fridge and pantry, and how to combine certain steps to save time, home cooking is easier and more pleasurable than you think. Plus, there’s no better way to show your affection (and skills in the kitchen!) to family and friends than preparing a home-cooked meal.
Here are four benefits of home-cooked meals (with a few tips to inspire you in the kitchen):
Home cooking saves money
Most people don’t realize that when they eat out, they’re not only paying for the food, they’re also paying to keep the business running; the same thing applies to store bought and processed food. Plus, home cooking takes less time than you think. This delicious pasta with tomato sauce takes only ten minutes!
Planning your meals ahead of time will help you follow-through. For example, if you’ve already got the ingredients you need to make a meal on Tuesday night, you’ll be less likely to ditch your plan and opt for eating out.
And making a list for the grocery store will help you save money on impulse buys. Plan to prepare at least 2-3 meals in a given week, write a list, and stick to it. The money you’ll save by cooking at home can go towards your next vacation, retail therapy, electronics or home furnishings.
Restaurants and fast food chains use a multitude of ingredients that have little nutritional value. McDonald’s french fries contain 19 ingredients alone, including petroleum-based, butane-like TBHQ (yep, that’s lighter fluid) and nerve- and brain-toxin monosodium glutamate (MSG).
Italian cooking is known for its use of simple, wholesome ingredients that work together to ensure a perfect balance in which one ingredient nevers overpowers another. For your next french fry fix, try these crispy potato wedges. All you need are potatoes, rosemary, garlic (optional), salt, olive oil and a tiny bit of butter.
Most restaurants (outside of Italy) serve extra large portions of food, which are hard to resist when they’re sitting right in front of you. And, of course, larger portions (and preservatives) contribute to weight gain.
At home, you have more control of portion sizes, and can better regulate the amount of food you eat. Studies have also shown that serving food on smaller plates creates the illusion that portion sizes are bigger, so if you’re counting calories, substitute your larger dinner plates for smaller ones.
Brings Families Together
According to research, families who eat together are happier together. Eating together is linked to less obesity, improved performance in school, even less substance abuse. Instill healthy eating habits and shared quality time by involving your kids in meal preparation: ask them to read recipes out loud, chop vegetables, or measure and mix ingredients.
This tasty roasted vegetable pasta salad tastes even better on day two! And you can make this classic pesto sauce in just two minutes, and store it in the fridge for up to one week. It’s easy and much tastier than store bought pesto, and will make a huge difference when it comes to the nutritional value and flavour of your food.
But home cooking isn’t just for family and friends. Home cooking for one (or two) has its own benefits: you can store leftovers in the refrigerator or freezer and bring them to work for lunch (saving even more money and eating healthier during your work day).
Here we’ve covered four benefits of home cooking, but always keep in mind that the biggest benefit of preparing meals at home is the pleasure you bring to those you love.