Here on the blog, I’ve shared quite a few recipes in the last 6 years. Personally, I prefer eating simple meals using real food. That doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy eating out occasionally, or that I don’t like short cuts in the kitchen. Unlike many people, I cannot live on take out. In the US, 60% of households order takeout weekly. With talks about America’s eating habits reaching unhealthy levels, there are ways to turn things around. This includes cooking from scratch and being responsible for what goes into your home-cooked meals. Indeed, you may not be able to cook all the time, and that may require eating out or ordering takeout. However, you benefit more when your meals are cooked from scratch. It can even help bring families together. Having everyone sit at the table and share your evening meal builds strong bonds. Today let’s discuss the main reasons for cooking from scratch.
More control over what goes into the food
Food research in the culinary industry has shown that most premade meals contain high amounts of fat, sugar, and sodium. Combining these three is believed to make food taste better but lacking in the nutrition department. Then there is the issue of packaged foods containing artificial preservatives to prolong shelf life. For me, this makes it imperative to consider cooking your meals from scratch. I found as a young adult that I had hidden food allergies. Cooking at home I could avoid lots of hidden chemicals. The first step required is committing to it. Meals are different and can take longer or shorter times to cook, depending on what you’re preparing and what equipment you use. However, duration shouldn’t be a problem, especially when the benefits outweigh the cooking time. On busy days during the week, put a slow cooker meal on in the morning. It cooks while you handle the day. Plus you will have more control over the number of ingredients used when you cook your own meals. Even better, you can choose specific allergy-free ingredients.
Less food wastage
The truth is that when meals are cooked from scratch, there is always some to save for later. You can only eat enough at a sitting while the rest is stored in the freezer for another day. For example, more than enough is left in the baking dish if you cook ground beef enchiladas for dinner. I usually eat the leftover as lunch or dinner the next day. I have a friend who keeps a bag in the freezer for scraps of bones, meat, vegetables, etc. He periodically uses that to make stock. He does it for taste but it also is frugal.
Fortunately, that contributes to less food wastage. Statistics show that the average food wastage in an American home is 31.9%. That is $ thrown away. Living alone I cook for one and many meals are eaten again the next day. To prevent food being pitched because I get tired of the soup I made 3 days, I often share salads or soup with my friend next door. When I buy fresh veggies, if the bag contains too much for me to use in a short time, I give some to Vickie. Throwing away food is a sin for me.
According to stats, the average American spends about $20 on takeout or restaurant dining for one person. On the other hand, it costs $4.31 per person to eat home-cooked meals. The sharp contradiction makes the huge cost disparity between the two obvious. Indeed, spending less on home-cooked meals may be the best option on any given day. According to an analysis, saving $20 you would have spent at a restaurant every day for a week could do much when grocery shopping. With the total amount, a shopper can purchase beans, potatoes, ground chuck, milk, rice, tofu, chicken, eggs, some vegetables, fruits, etc. You can cook enough meals from scratch to last for a week with this list. Indeed, that makes a lot more economic sense.
It Tastes Better & I Feel Better
Personally I think most of my meals at home taste better than eating out. There are exceptions as I am a basic cook and not a great chef making fancy French sauces every night. When I was working and went to conferences around the country, yes I usually enjoyed ordering dinner in a restaurant serving great local cuisine. Sour dough bread in San Francisco and fresh lobster in Maine were great. Later I was glad to finally come home and put a simple meal on for dinner and relax. I can’t tell you how many times I put seasoned chicken parts on to bake after work. A simple salad and/or a baked potato completed the meal.
I also found that I feel better when I am eating real food. Have you read the ingredients in most frozen food or dinners? I’m sorry I don’t see the need for most of the ingredients I CAN’T PRONOUNCE. When I first began blogging, I wrote a post on French fries. I had read about research on fast food fries and how many chemicals were in them. One major restaurant chain had 25 ingredients in the French Fries. If you leave most fast food burgers and fries on a counter for months, they don’t change in appearance much. They are filled with chemicals to give them a big shelf life. Many frozen bags of fries at the supermarket also have lots of ingredients including chemical names. Yes, I keep a bag in the freezer for bad days, but mine only have 5 ingredients: potatoes, vegetable oil, sea salt, apple juice concentrate to promote browning, and citric acid to promote color retention. Read the labels for your health!
I find that when I have a busy schedule, I plan on simple evening meals. There are several favorites that I use when I am tired or don’t have time to stand and cook. Find simple, reliable meals that your family enjoys. You can try new things on the weekends or during school holidays. Get the kids involved in menu planning and meal preparation. For your family’s food budget and your family’s health, I hope you make a habit of cooking your meals often. For ideas on how to buy takeout while staying on a diet, read How To Eat Takeout Food Without Ruining Your Diet.
This is a collaborative post but all opinions are my own.
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