While riding the subway in New York City, I saw an ad for a popular food delivery service that read, “Order food like a New Yorker”. It made me a little bit sad.
It’s true that most New Yorkers order take out or go out to restaurants (pre-COVID) most nights of the week. They don’t want to cook or don’t know how to put together a healthy meal. They are low on time and don’t feel like spending an hour in the kitchen. Or they might even dislike cooking.
But cooking a meal at home doesn’t need to be such a hardship. There are many benefits to make a meal at home and tips for making it easier. Here are a few reasons to ditch the delivery and break out the pots and pans tonight.
Benefits of cooking at home
1) Cooking is a creative hobby
Hobbies are the best way to break free of the busy-ness of everyday life. Rather than thinking of cooking as a chore, I consider it a hobby. Mixing and matching different foods to come up with something tasty and healthy is a creative act. Not to mention that the end product is a delicious meal!
Pro tip: Surf the web to find a recipe that really entices you. Then turn on some fun music and spend an hour in the kitchen creating an interesting, healthy, and delicious dish. Shift your mindset to make the act of cooking into a hobby, and you may be pleasantly surprised!
2) Cooking encourages family bonding
When I was a kid, my mom cooked for us almost every night. Pizza Friday night was (and still is) a weekly occurrence in our house. When my sister, best friend, and I played together, we would often take breaks to visit “Karen’s Diner”, otherwise known as the kitchen in my house.
My childhood consisted of nightly meals and talks around the dinner table. It bonded us as a family. And although my mom never really taught me how to cook, I knew how to prepare food from watching her all those years. My mom is the reason I have an interest in food and cooking, and ultimately why I became a Dietitian.
3) Cooking a meal is healthier than getting take out
When you order take-out or go out to eat, you have no idea what ingredients go into making your meal. Restaurants are often more concerned with making food taste as good as possible, rather than worrying about the nutrition of your meal.
Many restaurant meals are prepared with high fat ingredients, such as butter and cream. And chefs tend to use more salt and sugar than you would.
Even foods that seem healthy can be packed with hidden calories. For example, a burrito at Chipotle can be upwards of 1200 calories. The foods in the burrito are healthy on their own, but it’s the cooking methods and portion sizes that really make these foods a no-go. This meal could easily be recreated at home with smaller portions and less added fat, and the outcome would undoubtedly contain less calories.
4) Cooking at home is cheaper
Groceries seem like they are always increasing in price. Although ordering a pizza seems like a thrifty option, consider how much it would cost to make the same pizza at home. Pizza dough can be purchased almost anywhere for less than $2. A jar of sauce and a bag of cheese cost a few dollars each. Spend an extra dollar or two to buy peppers, onions, and mushrooms to top your pizza.
The outcome is a delicious version of a take-out meal for about half the cost. Not to mention that making this meal at home reduces our carbon footprint. There is no wasted pizza delivery box, no plastic utensils, and no gas used for delivery.
Tips to make cooking at home easier
I know what you’re going to say… cooking a meal takes time. Time is a valuable, and cooking is not a priority for busy people. It is understandable that many people want to unwind and relax after a day at the office, rather than spend an hour in the kitchen.
However, it is possible to both relax and have a home cooked meal. The key to finding time to cook is planning ahead with these easy tips.
- Designate Saturday or Sunday as “recipe and grocery day”. Spend some time looking up a few exciting recipes.
- Choose recipes that take 20-minutes or less to make, such as smoothies, grain bowls, soups, stir-fries and pasta. Here are a few examples:
- Choose recipes that have similar ingredients, so you don’t spend too much time or money at the store.
- Bring 2-3 recipes to the grocery store, buy only those ingredients, and do the prep work as soon as you get home.
- Make all of the recipes at once, otherwise known as “batch cooking”. Put half in the fridge for Monday-Wednesday and half in the freezer for Thursday and Friday.
- Assemble all of the ingredients of a recipe ahead of time and leave only the cooking part for when you get home from work.
If you’re looking for meal inspiration, check out my recipe page and tag me on IG: nutritionalanat if you make any of these dishes. Happy cooking!