When it comes down to feeding your body and mind, nothing is superior to preparing your food from scratch, with quality ingredients and served with love. If you have never experienced this phenomenon then try it out for 90 days and see how you feel. Come to that, see how your family feels as you work together in the kitchen to create a level of harmony and good health that is only possible when food is prepared in a loving manner, and eaten slowly with others. OK, so no excuses about time and schedules and…and…and. Instead let’s take a look at why preparing your food is a win-win situation for everyone.
1. Saves money
Packaged and prepared meals cost you considerably more than cooking with raw ingredients at home. Preparing meals at home can save you money. Chef Laura Stec, in her cookbook, Cool Cuisine, notes that just by bringing your home-cooked leftovers to work for lunch can save you a cool $100 each month. Other ways to save money include buying your food in bulk, using store coupons, eating more vegetarian meals, buying on sale and freezing for later use.
2. Saves time
In the time it takes to drive to a restaurant, place your order, wait for your order, return home and serve the meal, you could have made a three-course meal from scratch with time to sit and chew slowly. For those on a busy schedule, prepare half the week’s meals on a Sunday and the other half mid-week, which can allow time for relaxation or beneficial exercise.
3. Less salt and trans fats
Food producers and restaurant chefs use higher levels of salt and fat to make their products taste better to the consumer. Preparing meals at home allows you to control the amount of salt and oils you use in your recipes. This in turn reduces the possibility of weight gain and clogged arteries.
4. Balanced meals
Taking the time to plan your weekly menu not only helps to save time and money, but also provides a way to create meals with a balance of protein, carbohydrates and fat, plus all the essential vitamins and minerals needed for the adult and child’s body. When eating balanced meals your body feels satisfied, has fewer cravings and this in turn prevents late-night snacking.
5. Avoid food poisoning
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) 76 million people are poisoned by food each year in the United States. This is caused by food-borne pathogens such as bacteria, viruses and parasites that can seriously harm or even kill you. Forty cents of every U.S dollar spent on food is for restaurant or prepared foods, which allows for more possibility of consuming cheap foods prepared by inexperienced handlers, posing a greater risk of improper cooking and/or cross contamination of foods. When preparing meals at home you can better control the temperatures when cooking meats, keep hands and countertops clean and properly wash your raw produce.
6. Better energy
Food can be healing medicine or it can deplete your energy and cause sickness and pain. In Cook Your Way to the Life You Want, Christina Pirello writes that we run a risk by having someone else prepare all our meals. “We run a risk of giving our destiny to any chef who claims to know how to cook a pot of rice. He or she is in charge of who we are and what we feel and how we behave. That may sound dramatic, but the truth is that whoever is cooking is in charge of the people we become.”
7. Brings family together
Preparing meals at home and including family members in meal preparation is a way to give and share love. When food is prepared with a calm mind and loving thoughts it can become a tonic for both the physical body and the soul. Teaching children how to cook is a gift of health they will use for their entire lives and pass it on to their children and grandchildren.
8. Weight control
In 2007 the Journal of Public Health Policy published a paper showing how the portions served in fast food restaurants have increased from two to five times larger. Plates have gone from 10 inches in 1990 to 12 inches in 2010. With larger portions people tend to eat more, but cooking at home allows you to control serving sizes and prevent overeating. Buy locally, in season, the best quality food, organic when possible. When cooking from scratch you know exactly what is going into your recipes. The choices you make can keep you healthy and help prevent weight gain, digestive troubles and allergic reactions.
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While eating out in restaurants is a treat for many families, it has become a routine convenience for many other Americans. You receive benefits in the areas of nutrition, health and economics when you limit dining out and begin eating your very own homemade food.
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Eating at home allows you to control the ingredients in your food, so you can use natural ingredients instead of unhealthy processed foods. Processed foods, frequently served in restaurants or available in premade meals from the grocery store, tend to be high in sodium, fat and added sugars. According to the BBC, the World Health Organization recommends greatly reducing the intake of processed foods. Eating homemade foods lets you add in more fresh fruits and vegetables to your diets so that you can focus on all-natural ingredients.
You can use healthier cooking methods and substitutions for unhealthy ingredients when making your own meals. For example, when most restaurants would use butter or oils with trans fats, you can cook at home with nonfat cooking spray or healthy vegetable oils such as olive oil. In addition, at home you can substitute unhealthy ingredients for alternatives. For instance, the American Heart Association recommends substituting one cup of fat-free milk with one tablespoon of vegetable oil for one cup of whole milk.
With the economy in a recession, many Americans are eating more homemade food because it is cheaper than going to a restaurant or buying pre-cooked meals. Few restaurant dishes are cheaper to buy rather than to make at home, and even fast food value items are slightly cheaper to make at home. For example, Utah State University Extension reports that you can make a homemade burger for less than it would cost to buy a fast food burger. Preparing food in large quantities, which you can do at home, allows you to be more economical with your money.
Eating homemade food also provides other benefits, including helping you live a healthier lifestyle. Eating at home allows you to customize the portion size as necessary, reducing your urge to indulge on oversized restaurant portions, regardless of the dish's nutritional value. A report in the January 2007 issue of "Public Health Nutrition" states that families who eat more fast-food meals are less likely to eat healthy fruits and vegetables, and had an overall increase in consumption of salty snacks and soda. Eating homemade food you prepare yourself helps you learn good nutrition, which you can teach to your family so that they too can be healthier.
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