A lot of people resort to eating out because they don’t know how to prepare a simple, healthy meal at home. Instead, they opt for expensive takeout.
Not only does eating out on a regular basis put a serious dent in your bank account, but it also exposes you to a lot of questionable ingredients. Even seemingly healthy takeout meals like salads often are made with dressings that contain potentially inflammatory, omega-6-rich grain and seed oils.
If you’re in the position of eating out consistently, you might benefit from cooking at home more often.
Before you panic, it’s important to understand that you don’t have to be a gourmet chef to cook healthy meals for yourself at home. You just need to understand some of the basics.
Listed below are seven tips that will make healthy eating at home a breeze.
Benefits of Cooking at Home
There are lots of reasons to make cooking at home a priority, including the following:
Save money: First, the most obvious. You’ll almost always spend less money on food when you prepare it yourself. You’ll also get more bang for your buck.
Make your meals instantly healthier: Whether your reason for eating a healthier diet is weight loss, increased energy, or better overall health, when you cook for yourself, you have total control over the ingredients that go in your food, so you can easily tailor your meals to your specific needs.
Better portion control: Restaurants are known for giving out massive portions, making overeating incredibly easy. When you prepare your own food, you also get to divide your meals so that you’re eating portions that are appropriate for your individual caloric needs.
Avoid food allergies and sensitivities: If certain foods don’t make you feel your best, you can avoid them completely when you prepare your food yourself.
Tips for Healthy Eating at Home
These tips will make it easy for you to prepare delicious, healthy meals, and enjoy the many benefits of cooking at home.
1. It Starts with the Grocery Store
Healthy eating at home starts at the store where you shop for your food. It’s easy to get sucked into brightly colored packages and catchy marketing schemes. But, remember, when it comes to shopping for food, simpler is almost always better.
Stick to the perimeter of the grocery store and focus on whole, unprocessed foods.
When you’re purchasing packaged foods, check the ingredients list. Avoid foods that contain ingredients you can’t pronounce or couldn’t theoretically grow or raise yourself.
2. Skip Sugary Beverages
One of the easiest ways to improve your health is to eliminate — or at least decrease — your consumption of sugary beverages like soda and juice.
Even artificially sweetened beverages aren’t great on a consistent basis — many people find that they crave more sweet things after consuming them.
3. Dedicate Time to Food Prep
If you dedicate a few hours on a Saturday or Sunday to meal prep, you can save time throughout the week and make healthy eating a lot easier.
If you feel overwhelmed at the idea of preparing a week’s worth of food, keep in mind that there are lots of kitchen gadgets you can use to simplify the meal prep process.
Remember, too, that you don’t have to do absolutely everything at once. Even if you don’t cook all your food, you can at least chop and wash everything so that you just have to throw it in the oven or in a pan later on.
4. Make Smart Storage Decisions
You’re more likely to reach for healthy food when it’s right in front of you. When you’re putting food away, make sure you store the healthiest items at the front of the fridge.
In a perfect world, you wouldn’t have anything unhealthy in the fridge at all. But, if you do have any treats on hand, store them at the back of the fridge or freezer. Remember, out of sight, out of mind.
5. Eat at Least One Vegetable with Every Meal
If you’re on a mission to eat healthier, you don’t have to immediately swap out all your meals for kale salads. That would be pretty daunting, and the chances of you sticking to this new meal plan are pretty slim.
Instead, try adding just one serving of vegetables to each meal. Eat sauteed peppers with your eggs in the morning, have a side of carrots with your sandwich at lunch, and eat some roasted broccoli at dinner.
6. Invest in Tools that Make the Job Easier
Some people avoid cooking themselves because they’re ill or injured and have limited mobility or stamina for preparing food.
Be sure to utilize tools that allow you to work in your kitchen easily and safely.
For example, if standing in the kitchen is difficult, you can use a mobility scooter to maintain a level of independence for mobility needs. If you have pain in your hands or wrists, you can also use braces to support your joints while you handle tasks like chopping or mixing.
7. Enjoy the Fruits of Your Labor
Finally, make sure you’re eating slowly and mindfully after you’ve finished cooking your meal.
When you gobble your food down too quickly, your body has a hard time recognizing whether or not you’re full. This, in turn, makes overeating easy, which isn’t great for your health goals.