Picture this: you pressed snooze on your alarm one too many times this morning and now you’re late. You quickly rush to get dressed and out the door. Maybe other members of your household are also late and are relying on you to help them get going for the day.
A full breakfast is a luxury that your time does not allow for. You rush out the door with a breakfast bar in hand that you quickly eat while driving with the other hand (hello, safety hazard!).
Work is exceptionally busy today. You power through lunch to make up for the time you lost this morning. By 3 p.m., your tummy is really talking and a few of your co-workers offer you a slice of the pizza they ordered earlier. This is your lunch.
You get home exhausted after a long day. You are about to kick off your shoes and finally relax when you hear: “What’s for dinner?” Looks like it’s takeout again.
But what if your day could look different? What if home cooked meals could actually be a part of your life?
Let’s discuss the many benefits of cooking at home and talk about how to get started!
One huge barrier to cooking at home is the ease of ordering in. The data is clear: Food ordering exploded in 2020, and these habits may have stuck for many people.
Technology for ordering in has grown as well. Now it’s easy to get food from almost anywhere, even if they do not offer a dedicated delivery option.
For those who are short on time (who isn’t?), ordering delivery can seem like the easier option. But easier isn’t always better. There are many benefits of cooking at home that are missed when ordering in.
Cooking at home can lead to a better diet. This may seem obvious, but there has actually been a variety of research studies done on this topic.
A systematic review of the evidence found that cooking at home positively impacted diet. The most common outcomes researched included an increase in fruit and/or vegetable intake and improvements in weight. Interestingly, the review also found that cooking at home increased confidence and knowledge. So if you are unsure about cooking, research suggests that getting started could help build your confidence!
If cooking all of your meals at home seems like too much, consider starting with dinner first. One study found that cooking dinner frequently at home was associated with a healthier diet. Diet improved whether or not the study’s participants were trying to lose weight.
Why does cooking at home improve the diet?
According to an article from the University of Washington, “many commercially prepared foods are high in fat, salt, and sugar.” When we cook food at home, we can control the types and amounts of ingredients we use in our meals. For those who have special dietary needs, cooking at home also ensures that you can stick to your own individual food plan.
The article also explains that you can better control portion sizes if you cook at home. When ordering in or eating out, you will likely get a larger portion of food than you would eat if you were serving yourself at home. If you cook at home, you can prepare and eat the right portions for you.
Between delivery fees, tips, and taxes, the costs of ordering takeout can really add up!
Even if you go to a restaurant and eat, you are still paying for the costs of running that business. It costs money to pay the staff, advertise the restaurant, and keep the lights on. Cooking your own food at home is almost always going to be less expensive than eating out.
Have you ever considered the impact of ordering takeout on the environment? An increase in delivery comes with an increase in travel emissions. If you order food multiple times a week, that is multiple trips a week for delivery drivers. Now compare that to one weekly trip to the grocery store. Cooking at home can lower emissions.
What happens to all those disposable takeout boxes, bags, utensils, and napkins? Everything gets thrown in the trash which adds to environmental waste. Eating more meals at home is just one extra way to do your part for the environment.
Cooking at home also offers some important social benefits to consider.
Cooking with kids and family can be a bonding experience. Younger kids can practice simple skills like mixing and stirring, while older kids can learn to chop and use kitchen appliances.
Partners can also connect while cooking a meal together.
Additionally, secret family recipes can be passed down when multiple generations are spending time together in the kitchen.
Sure, you can order in or have catering for a party (so fancy!), but why not impress your guests with a home cooked meal?
Cooking for your dinner party can provide a more personal experience and gives you a chance to show off all the new cooking skills you’ve learned!
When you start cooking at home, you have the chance to learn more about foods from your own culture. You can also explore other cultures through cooking.
Now that you’ve heard all the benefits of cooking at home, you may still have some hesitations. Some of the most common concerns are a lack of time, cooking skills, and motivation. Let’s discuss how to overcome each of these so you can get cooking!
We only make time for what we prioritize. If cooking at home is not currently a priority for you, then you likely won’t do it.
If you think you don’t have time to cook, going into the week with a plan can really cut down on time. Try carving out 30-60 minutes one day a week to meal plan. Block this time off on your schedule if you have to, but just keep this time as an appointment with yourself every week.
Write out what you are going to eat each week and then make a grocery list based on your plan. If you have a plan and ingredients in place at the start of the week, you will save yourself time making food decisions during the week. Meal planning is a skill. So, the more you do it, the faster you will get.
It may seem like it’s quicker to go out to eat, but going to a restaurant may actually take longer than cooking. Ordering delivery can be faster, but you still have to call or go online and decide what you want to eat. If you have other members of your household, collecting everyone’s orders can take just as long as cooking!
Take an audit of how you are spending your time and make some trade offs so you can fit cooking into your routine.
At this point you may be thinking: “How can I start cooking at home if I don’t know how to cook?”
If your only experience with cooking is burnt toast and crispy eggs, then you are probably not going to become a gourmet chef overnight. But that’s okay! Like we said before, cooking is a skill that you can learn and build on.
A good first step if you are starting from scratch is to take some cooking classes. This can be done in person, but there are also virtual classes out there.
According to The Harvard Health Blog, “multiple studies have shown that home cooking instruction significantly increases a person's confidence in his or her food preparation skills.”
Once you start to build your confidence, you can start adding more kitchen tools to your collection. You may start with a frying pan and a baking sheet and then add in a pressure cooker, blender, or air fryer.
Learning how to season foods is part of the learning process. You may begin with the basics and then build up your herb and spice selection over time. You’ll be a flavor master in no time!
You may know how to cook, but you just don’t have the motivation to cook. There are a few ways to overcome this.
As mentioned earlier, meal planning will help you have a set plan each day so you don’t have to think about what to cook. You will just simply follow your plan for the day.
If you don’t know what to add to your plan, you can get a few cookbooks or look at recipes online. There are plenty of easy and tasty recipes on social media and blogs! To keep yourself from getting overwhelmed, just pick 2-3 websites or books to start with.
Once you find what you like, cooking at home will soon become a habit!
Ready to cook at home? Here are some tips to get you started.
Stock your kitchen with these 12 essential tools:
Here are a few essential cooking techniques to start with. You can learn them in a cooking class or even from watching videos online.
If you are new to cooking at home, stick with easy recipes that take 30 minutes or less to make. Like we mentioned before, cookbooks and the internet are great resources for easy recipes.
One way to move from eating out to home cooking is to pick a few of your favorite restaurant meals and learn how to recreate them at home.
The use of meal kit services has grown along with food delivery. A meal kit service provides all the raw ingredients for a recipe, but you still have to cook the food at home. While meal kit services don’t have all the benefits of cooking at home, they can be a good way to learn how to cook a few easy recipes. You can consider them like training wheels!
As you can see, the benefits of cooking at home outweigh any potential barriers. Home cooked meals are usually healthier and less expensive than eating out. They also have environmental and social benefits. While cooking takes time and there is a learning curve, meal planning with easy recipes is a great way to get started and build your confidence. Let’s get cooking!