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Why cook at home?

Why should we cook more at home and what happens to our bodies when we eat home-cooked food?

Finding the time and energy to cook at home can certainly seem difficult.

Many people find it much more convenient to order ready-made food or eat out.

After all, cooking takes so much time!

And – I don’t like to cook at all!

 

You might be one of those people who doesn’t like to cook, but if you read my blog – you probably know you should cook more.

But.

You probably don’t know that any home-cooked food is much more beneficial to your health than almost any food that comes from a restaurant, takeaway or fast food.

And – regardless of the recipe/food – even homemade chips are many, many times healthier than the ones you buy in the supermarket.

Why?

That’s what this article is about.

Here are 8 science-based reasons why it’s better to cook your own:

 

1 Home cooking improves diet quality and diversity

Meal planning is associated with a more varied and higher quality diet – it provides nutrients you probably wouldn’t get otherwise.

Those who plan meals are more likely to follow dietary guidelines and eat a wider variety of foods. This is probably because meal planning involves a longer process of reflection, which allows you to make more informed choices.

Studies also show that cooking at home is associated with higher consumption of vegetables, salads and fruit, which in turn helps you to feel full for longer and not eat all sorts of crap… in between meals.

And.

Studies show that less than 0.1% of restaurant meals are of ideal quality (they do not contain enough fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains, fish, lean poultry and nuts and do not consistently limit sweetened drinks, sweets and processed meats).

Basically, we could stop here, but as there are many more benefits to cooking at home – so let’s keep going 😊.

 

2 Positively affects body weight

Cooking at home is associated with weight loss and obesity prevention.

Restaurant, takeaway, and fast-food meals almost always contain more calories, saturated fat and sodium (salt) than home-cooked meals.

For example, a 2013 study analysing 685 different restaurant meals (3507 meal options plus 156 desserts) found that a single breakfast, lunch or dinner meal contains on average 1128 Kcal. For comparison, an average-size, non-overweight woman needs ~1600 Kcal per day, while a man needs ~2000 Kcal.

In other words, a single meal provides two-thirds of the daily calorie needs!

 

This explains why cooking at home is associated with weight loss – it’s easier to control portion sizes and keep track of calories when cooking yourself.

Especially if you use recipes with nutrition information and portion size recommendations.

 

Meal planning is associated with a lower likelihood of overweight in women and a lower likelihood of obesity in men.

What’s more, in one pilot programme, participants came together every Sunday for six weeks to prepare healthy meals for the week ahead (10 lunch and dinner dishes and five snacks).

By the end of the programme, participants had not only started to eat a more balanced diet but had also lost weight, on average, more than 3 kg.

 

3 Saves money

By ordering food delivered or eating out, you pay 3 to 5 times more for the same food.

Meal planning allows us to:

  • Design our menus according to our taste buds and our body’s needs.
  • Buy only what we need and as much as we need (we don’t spend money on impulse purchases that tempt us at home or are wasted).
 

Healthy eating does not have to be expensive – that is a myth. By cooking for yourself, you save money and also improve your health.

It’s worth it!

 

4 Improves digestion and gut health

Food made from fresh and raw foods does wonders.

Raw foods are rich in nutrients and therefore good for your health, whereas food made from ‘preps’ is lower in nutrients (but higher in calories).

In other words, the more processed foods (and the E-numbers they contain) in the diet, the more it is associated with digestive disorders and inflammation, which in turn can contribute to a range of health problems including irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, type 2 diabetes, chronic liver disease and some types of cancer.

Whole foods also contain more fibre, which can contribute to a healthy and diverse gut microflora and reduce the risk of many digestive disorders, such as constipation, inflammatory bowel disease and colorectal cancer.

 

5 Improves psychological and emotional well-being

Cooking at home is good not only for physical health but also for mental health. Cooking, for example, can reduce stress and improve mood.

Especially if you succeed and your family members praise you for a delicious meal.

Moreover, cooking is a creative activity, and studies show that creative activities help to improve mood and general well-being.

 

6 Strengthens family and social ties

Eating is a social activity for many. Cooking at home and sharing meals with family and friends allows family members to communicate and strengthen relationships – fostering a sense of community and increasing overall life satisfaction.

In addition.

You don’t have to cook alone – you can do it with family or friends and thus strengthen relationships even more.

Many studies show that children who cook or help to cook from a young age find it much easier to try new things (develop faster and more comprehensively).

For example, a study of 8500 students found that cooking ability was positively associated with better nutrition, health indicators, and stronger family ties.

 

7 Saves time (and improves your organisational skills)

Tight working schedules are cited as one of the main reasons why people choose to eat out rather than cook themselves.

If you cook one portion for each family member every day, it can take a lot of time.

But.

If you prepare the ingredients for all your meals once a week and then just put them together and heat them:

  1. The time spent cooking is significantly reduced.
  2. You can serve lunch or dinner in literally minutes.
 

How can cooking help you save time?

Here’s how:

  • Prepare meal ingredients ahead (cereals, proteins and vegetables…). In other words, instead of cooking from scratch every day, simply combine the ingredients you’ve prepared in advance.
  • Plan your meals – this will allow you to prepare the ingredients in advance, you won’t have to go to the grocery store every day, and you will reduce the amount of leftovers.
  • If you combine cooking into one or two times a week, you will also only have to clean the kitchen 1 or 2 times.
  • If you cook with fresh and unprocessed foods – you will get more nutrients, your health will improve, and you will need to visit the doctor less often – you will save both – time and money.
 

8 Helps prevent impulsive food choices

Impulsive food choices are very real.

Especially if you go to the store when you are hungry (when blood glucose levels are low and the brain is looking for a quick source of energy, which usually means simple carbohydrates).

 

Cooking at home (the decision to eat balanced meals) limits your choices to what you have in your fridge – your pre-prepared ingredients.

And.

Even if there are homemade chips, you will definitely eat healthier than the food you order or buy on the go.

Research also confirms this – people who eat more often with their families generally eat healthier than those who buy and prepare food “on impulse or with little planning”.

 

Key takeaways

Cooking is more than just a manual skill – it also involves feelings, the socio-cultural (e.g. time, money) and physical environment, and develops adaptability (e.g. to the needs and/or preferences of the family members).

When cooking at home, you have full control over the ingredients – so the food is much healthier – if only because it is free of preservatives, emulsifiers, flavour enhancers and other additives (E-numbers).

Cooking at home can seem overwhelming at first – especially, if you’re not used to planning and making shopping lists – but it gets easier with practice.

 

Cook more yourself, get moving, and – stay healthy!

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