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.
Substitutions and Healthy Eating
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.
- BBC News: Eat Less Processed Food, Say Experts
- American Heart Association: Healthier Preparation Methods for Cooking
- American Heart Association: Smart Substitutions
- Utah State University Extension: The Cost of Convenience
- Public Health Nutrition: Fast Food for Family Meals: Relationships With Parent and Adolescent Food Intake, Home Food Availability and Weight Status