Sure, it's easy to grab the take-out menu or head to your favorite restaurant for dinner - often times making food seems like the last thing you want to do. Even so, your budget and your health are often compromised for convenience during meal time. Do you know exactly what's going into that fried rice? Maybe you stock up on pre-packaged, heat up meals at the grocery store to save some time around meal time. But often what looks like an innocuous meal of chicken strips or pasta in a bag is full of bad fats, preservatives and other ingredients that do more harm than good. The truth is, cooking your own food is really the best way to know exactly what's going in to the food that's fueling you.
Besides knowing what you're really eating, there are plenty of other reasons to cook your own food, like saving time and money, and enjoying better taste and more energy. Still need convincing? Let's take a more in-depth look at them:
1. Save Money
Going out to eat or buying pre-cooked and packaged meals costs considerably more than cooking your own food from scratch. Plus, cooking your own food means you control the portion size, so you can make enough to have leftovers for other meals. You can also use coupons and buy food in bulk to save even more money. Keep in mind that when you purchase food in bulk it should be nonperishable unless you plan on cooking it all right away and freezing it, which is another great way to save money.
2. Save Time
Cooking your food yourself might seem like it takes too much time, but with some planning, you'll be saving time in the long run. For example, those bulk foods we just talked about freezing can be thawed, reheated and on the table in a matter of minutes. There are so many options for delicious freezer meals that require some forethought and planning, but are quick and easy to have on hand when schedules get packed and getting a balanced dinner on the table seems like a long shot.
3. Eat Balanced Meals
Frozen pizza is hardly a balanced meal. So if you've made a commitment to eating right, it's time to start buying and cooking vegetables, protein and other foods that are nutrient-rich and low in trans fats. The food you eat is what fuels your body, so if you're eating well, your body will perform well.
4. Have More Energy
Food is fuel, so that means that what you eat directly affects the level at which you perform throughout the day. Feeling sluggish and foggy? Those French fries you ate at lunch might have something to do with that. Cooking your own food from natural, nutrient-rich ingredients will go a long way to helping you feel energized throughout the day.
5. Consume Less Trans Fats
Pre-made food and fast food is most often full of trans fat which can do serious damage to your progress in reaching your health goals, not only by increasing your calorie intake, but also by making you feel tired and depleted. When you cook your own food, you control the amount and kind of oil that goes into your food.
6. Eat Smaller Portions
Restaurant and pre-packaged portions are many times way, way bigger than a healthy portion size. If you're someone who struggles with knowing when to stop eating (and at some restaurants, that could be just about everyone), cooking your own food at home allows you to control serving sizes and helps keep you on track to losing weight and reaching your goals.
7. Learn New Things
If you're not an experienced cook, don't worry! It's always a good time to learn something new. Cooking at home is a great opportunity to discover new recipes and sharpen your skills in the kitchen. You won't be a pro right from the start, but with practice you'll be surprised at where you'll be a year, or even a couple months, from now.
8. Bring the Whole Family Together
Enlist the help of family members in preparing meals and you could have a whole new way of spending time together that fits right into your hectic schedules of practice, homework and meetings - everyone has to eat, so why not make the time spent cooking and eating time spent together?
Not sure where to start? Check out this blog post by Mark Wright who started cooking his own food with the help of a Five Seasons nutritionist. Start by choosing a few recipes that use natural, fresh ingredients, then head to the grocery store and be mindful of each item you put in your cart. Once you're home, read through the recipe one more time and dive in!