June 13th, 2018 • 5 min read
Last Updated: August 12th, 2018
Inspiration of the article:
It’s easier than ever not to cook at home: Takeout, pickup, and a slew of food-delivery apps make no-cook eating as easy as tapping a few buttons on your phone.
But that convenience can come at a high caloric cost. One simple — and usually less expensive — way to block those extra calories from heading for your waistline? Cook at home.
Science backs it up, too: A 2014 study published in the journal Public Health Nutrition found that people who eat more meals at home consume 200 fewer calories at meals than those who eat out on the regular. And when these home cooks do eat out, they pick healthier options.
It’s not good enough to just eat at home, though — you have to make those meals, too. And remember: Just because you cooked something at home doesn’t automatically make it healthy. (Sorry, but those “homemade” double-chocolate fudge brownies don’t count.)
But if you stick with healthy recipes, then you’re definitely giving yourself the home advantage. “The bottom line is that eating at home is healthier for you because it gives you so much more control,” says Meg Hagar, M.S., R.D., and author of Little Book of Kitchen Wonders.
Related: 9 Best Morning Habits to Lose Weight
You know exactly how much salt or fat or sugar is going into your dish; you also have the power to swap ingredients in (and out) to fit your nutritional and caloric goals.
And eating healthy at home doesn’t have to cost more: A study from researchers at the University of Washington found that home-cooked dinners were lower in fat, calories, and sugar — but not higher in grocery bills.
The study also found that people who eat at home are more likely to meet U.S. government guidelines for a healthy diet.
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The control you get with cooking at home extends to other facets of your health as well: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in six Americans gets sick from food-borne illness each year.
Of course, food poisoning can happen anywhere, but when you’re preparing meals at home, you know exactly how food is being handled — and how clean the kitchen is.
One of the biggest reasons people eat out is for convenience. But that convenience comes at a hefty price: According to data from the USDA, Americans spend almost $3,000 a year eating out.
We get it: It’s easier to just pick something from a menu versus shopping, preparing, cooking, and cleaning, especially if you’re crazy busy. But if you arm yourself with some smart shopping tips and time-saving meal plans, you can lose pounds and gain some cold, hard cash.
“I’m a huge believer in batch cooking, or preparing multiple servings of a meal all at once,” says Hagar. “The best part is that I only have to cook a few times a week and I get to eat my own homemade meals all week!”
Sounds easy, but the reality of it can be overwhelming. Start slow, like cooking three dinners at home one week. Then, the following week, add two home-cooked breakfasts.
Keep building on each subsequent week until it becomes a habit to cook at home, instead of eating out.
Restaurants use everything from color to music to influence what you eat — and how much you spend — at their establishments. Follow their lead by creating an environment at home that supports healthy eating and habits:
While we’re definitely fans of eating at home, that doesn’t mean you have to be a hermit who never enjoys a meal out.
With a few tips and tricks in your back pocket, you can stay on track and eat out with friends and family with zero guilt:
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