Let me just preface this by saying, I love eating out. Back in my 20s living in NYC, I must have eaten out practically every meal of the day (can someone say broke?). Decades ago, going ‘out’ to eat was a once in a while thing, saved for special occasions. In the ‘50s only about 15%-20% of the household budget was used on dining out. Fast forward to today, that percentage has practically doubled. The bad news is that we are spending more and more money on non-nutritious foods cooked with preservatives and bad oils and portion sizes are out of control.
But there is good news.
Understanding the benefits of cooking at home has inspired me, as well as many of my clients to cook at home more.
Here are three reasons why cooking at home is better than eating out.
1. More nutritious and controlled. Just imagine, in a restaurant kitchen, how much salt, butter and oil is added to your food. When cooking at home, you are able to control how much seasoning, oil, etc you are putting into your food. Most people can cut down about 10%-15% of the sodium, fat and calorie content just by cooking at home. Also, you know what you are putting into your food. Anything goes at a restaurant, which is normally the cheapest and lowest quality food, for the highest profit margins.
2. More cost effective. I’ve had many debates with friends about this. You actually do save money, even if you are cooking for one. I did an experiment to prove that cooking at home is cheaper than eating out. On two separate days, I bought a modest breakfast, lunch and dinner for myself. The total cost for both of those days came to approximately $76. The following week, I spent approximately $82 on groceries, and made enough meals to last me 4 days. If I had eaten out for 4 days at roughly the same amount I previous mentioned, it would have come out to $152. So $152 eating out vs $82 eating in. Boom.
3. Cooking = quality time. Whether you are single or with a family, cooking can mean really amazing quality time with others. If single, hosting a dinner party or a potluck is a great way for friends to come together. Nothing beats eating home-cooked food and great conversation with friends. Cooking with a significant other has shown to improve communication and teamwork. Cooking with kids is a wonderful way to have kids be comfortable in the kitchen and learn an invaluable skill that they can keep with them forever.
Taking small steps can go a long way. If you are someone who eats out most of the week, start by choosing 1 day that you will commit to cooking a meal. Slowly increase the number of meals you cook week after week. If you are looking for inspiration, check out some healthy and simple meals here.
“The table is a meeting place, a gathering ground, the source of sustenance and nourishment, festivity, safety, and satisfaction. A person cooking is a person giving: Even the simplest food is a gift.”
– Laurie Colwin, Author