I have to admit my penchant for cooking didn’t originally stem from a desire to eat healthier or to fuel my fitness goals; it was inspired by my sister, who roomed with me my last two years of college and amazed me with her Food Network-inspired culinary skills. After I graduated and moved into my own place, I found out how much I missed those home-cooked meals, and since I’m not a trust fund baby who can afford a personal chef, I had to learn how to cook on my own.
Thankfully, preparing your own meals has a lot of advantages over constantly eating out. For me, cooking is very much a therapeutic and creative outlet, and I honestly do enjoy people telling me they like or are impressed by my food (so don’t be shy with the compliments on the recipes posted here 🙂 jk). If I had to narrow it down, however, there are three key reasons why I prefer home-cooked over restaurant-prepared when time allows. Hit the break for reasons that will appeal to your body, taste buds, and pocket book…
1. You have complete knowledge and control over what goes in your body. Eating out is a mixed bag when it comes to nutrition. At many establishments, you have no idea of the hard nutritional data of your meal (e.g., calorie count, fat content, protein, etc.). (Eric does share some good tips for making the most of your nutrition with fast food, at least.) Larger chain restaurants and fast food joints tend to have that information more readily available, but even then, they don’t tell you everything. Excess sodium and less-than-good-for-you preservatives also oftentimes abound in restaurant food. In the end, cooking your own meals empowers you with much more knowledge and control over how you fuel your body and how to tailor your diet to your fitness and nutritional needs. You can’t replicate that when you are constantly eating out.
2. You have virtually limitless meal possibilities to keep your food interesting and nutrient-rich. I always find that after extended travel for business or pleasure, I just get plain tired of eating out. As creatures of habit, we tend to return to the same places that serve the food we like over and over again, and when you’re trying to eat healthily while eating out, the choices become even more limited and repetitive. Preparing your own meals means you’re only limited by your imagination and what you can buy at the grocery store, keeping your meals varied both so that you don’t get bored of your food (which can lead to breaking your diet) and so you can pull from lots of different sources of the nutrients your body needs.
3. You can save tons of money in the long run. I had a friend recently tell me that, on average, he spends $15 to $20 per day eating out for lunch and dinner because he hates to cook. I did a little math and figured out that for less than $10, I can make a batch of turkey-veggie meatballs with a package of whole wheat pasta and marinara sauce, which will provide 4 to 6 meals’ worth of food that is less expensive and healthier than what you’re likely to find at most restaurants. Those savings add up very quickly. Your time and effort in making meals at home turns into some real and welcomed benefits to your pocketbook.
Those are just my top picks for why I like to cook. What are your motivations for preparing your meals?