Your Personal Meal Planning Assistant
October 10, 2016 / Nicole Villeneuve

Why Cooking at Home Should Be One of Your Resolutions This Year

Rick and Julia cooking in the kitchen

You may already have a few resolutions in mind. Perhaps they’re related to your health, your stress level, being good to the people around you or taking care of the planet. You might be looking to break old habits or develop positive new ones, or maybe even learn something new.

Good news! You can check all of these off at the same time with one simple resolution: cooking at home more often.

Get in touch with your inner chef by committing to cooking at home at least 3 nights a week and reap these awesome payouts:

Cooking at home promotes health and weight maintenance

When you rely heavily on takeout, you end up eating a lot more sugar, salt and processed oil (not to mention coloring and additives) than you may know. These things are all added to foods to improve taste and texture, but offer little in terms of nutrition. Their excess consumption has been linked to diabetes, obesity, heart disease, stroke and hypertension.

When you cook at home, you get to decide exactly what goes into your meals, including seasonings, spices, fats and sweeteners. You’ll also have more control over where your food comes from, meaning you’ll have a better idea about things like whether your meat was treated with antibiotics, and you’ll get to experiment and determine the ratio of protein to carbs that works best for your body.

Portion size is another troublesome piece of eating out: generally, what you are served is far more than you need. When you cook for yourself, you’re in control of portion size and are afforded the opportunity to eat more mindfully, stopping when you are full and packing up leftovers.

Cooking at home will save you money

Let’s face it: a lot of what you pay for in marked-up restaurant meals is the venue’s operating overhead. Planning your meals and seeking out good deals on in-season produce can make a huge difference in your bank account each week. Eating at home can cost less than half what eating out does.

Plus, in the last year, the cost for groceries actually dropped by 0.5% (this cost usually increases by about 2.5% annually!). Restaurant prices increased an average of 2.7% in the same time period

If you’re dining out for lunch five times weekly already, you might be spending more than half the value of your weekly grocery budget on takeout: think what that $50 could make in batches of whole, nourishing food to craft brown-bagged lunches. Prepping a few essentials – rice, beans, roasted vegetables, soup, chili, a protein – and eating them across several meals is far more cost-effective than picking up takeout every day.

Cooking at home allows you to connect with the seasons and be kind to the Earth

Eating in line with the season is a powerful principle in many traditional ways of eating (Macrobiotics and Ayurveda, to name a couple). The planet provides nutrients we need at specific times of year, and it is to our benefit to consume in-season foods whenever possible. Visiting the farmer’s market to seek out local, seasonal foods is a fun way to get in touch with the planet: when we’re not selecting the ingredients, they could come from anywhere in the world and more often than not are not in season where we live. Plus, when you buy from a smaller growing operation, you support local business and (typically) more sustainable agricultural practices that have a smaller impact on the planet. Food travels a shorter distance from farm to market to table (bonus points if you bike to the market instead of driving). Taking those foods home to cook them is a gift to your body and to the planet.

It’s also worth considering the shipping materials, waste, emissions and water/ electricity usage of restaurants. Your environmental footprint shrinks when you choose to prepare food at home.

Cooking at home is a good chance to connect with people you love

There is something very human about cooking and eating together. A little communal time in the kitchen can go a long way. Collaborating with your family, friends or significant other to prepare and eat a meal helps solidify your relationships and provides an opportunity to relax, connect and decompress.

Cooking at home can reduce stress

The ritual of assembling ingredients, peeling and chopping, and simmering things to perfection can be tremendously peaceful. Cooking is actually often used as a therapeutic treatment for depression, anxiety and other psychological challenges. The act of focusing on something besides one’s emotional struggles, instead putting effort into a task that yields confidence-boosting results, can redirect negative or tense thought patterns and calm the mind.

Don’t get too caught up in having to do things perfectly and you might find the process to be a nice respite from your hectic day. A glass of wine in hand is optional.

Nicole Villeneuve

Nicole Villeneuve is a certified Diabetes Prevention Lifestyle Coach. A graduate of Yale University, she previously worked in book publishing, with a focus on cookbooks and health, and ran the food blog Paper and Salt. Her writing has been featured in Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, The New York Times Magazine, The Paris Review, and The Daily Beast. Nicole lives in San Francisco and loves cooking, reading, exploring new restaurants, and running by the ocean. You can (very occasionally) find her on Twitter.

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