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Foods

Clean Delicious Eating at Home

Clean Delicious Eating at Home
Author
Natalie Stein

Exercise, Fitness & Nutrition Expert | Lark Health

Compared to eating out, cooking at home offers some advantages for your health.

Rest assured that cooking at home can be easy, quick, and delicious, as well as healthy, of course. You can make satisfying meals, similar to what you might order in a sit-down restaurant or fast food joint, without feeling deprived. Plus, you can make your home-cooked meals family-friendly without extra effort.

Health Benefits of Home Cooking


You may have a hunch that home cooking can be your best bet for health, but why? In short, you have control over what you put in your food, how you prepare it, and what size portion you serve yourself. In contrast, when you order at a restaurant, you are likely to get a meal that is oversized and has ingredients that are not the healthiest.

With home cooking, you can control:

  • Your cooking method. You can steam, grill, roast, or even saute food instead of using deep frying or unnecessarily high amounts of added fats in cooking, which often happens at restaurants and fast food joints.
  • Your portions. A single plate of pasta as a dinner entree can have 7 servings of carbs, for example, while you can stick to a more reasonable 1-cup serving of pasta when you cook for and serve yourself.
  • Your ingredients. Restaurants may not give you a choice regarding items such as fatty cuts of meat, chicken with skin, refined grains, or excess fats and salt cooked into food. When you cook your own, you can use lean cuts of meat, skinless chicken, whole grains, and less fat and sodium, for example.

Home Cooking and Your Budget


There is another likely benefit of cooking for yourself: the lower cost. When you eat out, you are paying not only for the food, but also for the labor to cook the food and clean the pans and dishes. You are also paying for the restaurant to make a profit on you. When you cook at home, you are paying for the food.

Let’s look at an example of a chicken dinner. A restaurant meal can cost $10 to (more likely) $15 per person. That adds up to $40 to $60 for a family of four. Let’s say instead that you make chicken, brown rice, and green beans with almonds at home. Your costs, estimated using the Bureau of Labor Statistics’  standards, may be under $10.

  • $4 for 1 lb. of boneless skinless chicken breast.
  • $2 for 1 lb. of green beans.
  • $2 for 4 oz. of sliced almonds.
  • $0.30 for 4 oz. of dry brown rice.
  • $1 for cooking ingredients such as olive oil, lemon, salt, spices, etc.

You can add a salad with lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, and dressing for $4, and some fruit for another $2. The grand total is $16, which is a savings of $24 to $44 for that single meal!

Remember the extra expenses when you eat out. A 20% tip for your server or delivery person on a $50 meal is $6. If you get delivery, you might pay about $3 for delivery and may incur a service fee of $2 or more. 

Make Cooking Easier


You are more likely to follow through with your healthy home-cooking intentions if you are prepared. Plan your meals ahead of time when you can so you can go grocery shopping for ingredients. You might even consider a grocery delivery service from a third-party or direct from the supermarket. They are becoming more common and are often reasonably priced.

With cost savings as described above, you can consider the possibility of spending a little extra on meal helpers that can make your meal easier to cook and a little tastier. These may be worth a bit of extra money.

  • Rotisserie chicken instead of chicken that you cook yourself.
  • Bagged salad and prepared vegetables instead of cutting your own lettuce and washing, peeling, and chopping your own vegetables.
  • Individually packaged servings of frozen fish or turkey burger patties
  • Pre-cooked chicken breast strips.

Try Your Hand


You can often make your own meals to be a lot like your fast food favorites. That is, they will taste a lot like your fast food faves, and be satisfying, but there will be important differences. You can easily make them lower in calories and unhealthy components such as sugars, refined carbohydrates, and artery-clogging fats, while increasing the amount of healthy and filling nutrients you get. The following meals and suggestions cut back on unhealthy fats and refined starches and sugars, while adding fiber, vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats

Breakfast for a High-Energy Weight Loss Day

Quick Power Lunch

Dinner in a Jif

You can see that it is not so difficult to make delicious meals at home that can save calories and improve your nutrition. Eating well can be the most important step you take in ensuring a healthy future, so do what you can to eat well. Lark can give you tips and keep you aware of what you are eating so good choices become habits.