How often do you eat out? According to an article I found on Business Insider from 2019, “Americans eat out 5.9 times a week on average.” 6 in 10, Adults in the US have a chronic disease and 4 in 10 adults in the US have two or more chronic diseases (CDC website). A big driver of these numbers is poor nutrition. I believe we have to eat at home more often. CNN published an article in 2018, about another danger of eating out frequently. “Dining out frequently is known to increase one’s intake of unhealthy sugars and fats. But a new study suggests that there’s another reason to eat at home more often: phthalates. Phthalates are potentially harmful chemicals found in hundreds of consumer products, including perfumes, hair sprays, shampoos and the plastics used in food processing and packaging. Consumption of these chemicals has been linked to birth defects in young boys as well as behavioral problems and obesity in children and adults.”
Now, do not get me wrong, eating out on occasion is good. A few benefits to eating out is 1) try new foods 2) You get a break from cooking 3) You get to spend time with friends and family. Like I said, eating out should be done sparingly as date night once or twice a month. As a family, you need to decide what is right. For Lee and I, eating out is a treat. With my long list of allergies we do not go out nearly as much as we use to. When we dine out it is on vacation or for a date like this Saturday, we are planning lunch out at a new “healthy” restaurant (noticed this place in Bluffton called Lowcountry Fresh Market and Café) and then the movies.
So, how do you start to cook at home more?
- Start by asking yourself “why aren’t you cooking at home?” Is it a lack of knowledge? A lack of confidence? Are you tired at the end of the day and cooking is just one more thing you have to do plus the stress of coming up with an idea of what to cook? If you don’t have much experience, start with something easy like 1 pan sheet dinners. Google, “Healthy 1 pan dinners” If you lack confidence, confidence will come the more you cook at home. Finally, if cooking is stressful and just one more thing you have to do at the end of the day, I would suggest you cook recipes that will give you left overs or you could prep meals ahead of time on Sundays. Invest in a crockpot or instant pot where all you have to do is dump the ingredients into the pot and the pot does the cooking for you.
- Start small on your new cooking at home habit. Like building any habit, small steps lead to success and the feeling of success is good and leaves us with wanting more. Currently, if you are eating out five days a week, maybe cut that down to 4 days a week and then three days a week and so on.
- Love your kitchen. Chances are if you love your kitchen you are going to want to be in it. Invest in kitchen gadgets that will make cooking easier. Make sure you have great knives, cutting boards, pots and pans. Make sure your kitchen is well stocked with olive oils, spices, seasonings and staples in the pantry like beans, brown rice, nuts and your freezer has frozen vegetables (peas are my personal favorite).
- Enjoy the process of cooking. As you cook, turn the music up and dance! Take the time to listen to a book or a podcast. Bring the children in and have them dance with you as they help with the cooking.
- Have someone to cook for. Before Lee came into my life, cooking was not that much fun. But once I started cooking for Lee, I got really into it. I enjoy hunting for new recipes and making his favorite dishes and discovering new dishes that we both like.
- Finally, have a plan. I have discussed this before but it is key to cooking at home. Pick one day a week and sit down and plan out your meals. I do this before I go grocery shopping and I only plan out dinners as I pretty much eat the same breakfast and lunch every day. With a plan, I never question what is for dinner and therefore I experience zero stress around dinner time. At the end of the day, when we are tired and without a plan for dinner, we will reach for something quick and convenient and these things are rarely healthy.
Eating at home is the best thing you can do for your health. And your health is everything! Let’s see those pictures of you enjoying a night in!