I was inspired by a recent discussion on Twitter to write this post, as it got me thinking about cooking from scratch - perhaps you think you're too busy to make the time to shop for and prepare home cooked meals? Let me share 10 amazing things that will happen if you do!
I know it isn't easy to come home most nights after work and cook a meal from scratch, especially if you have a family or you work long hours. But I firmly believe that with a bit of effort and a few adjustments, it is doable. So, here are my Top 10 benefits, with advice and tips, of cooking your own food and why you should try it.
1. You will have more control over what goes into your body
Cooking your own food is much healthier for you. Think about it; when you eat out or order takeaways you have no idea of how much, or what kind of salt, sugar, fat and fake ingredients are being added to your food (some restaurants provide nutritional values, but most don't). If you don't want sugar in your tomato sauce, you don't have to have it when you make it yourself! Check out my last blog for more info about sugar in our food.
Studies have shown that excess chemicals (which processed foods are full of) can lead to obesity, cancers, and neurological complaints. Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is in many processed food and certainly in almost all fast food. All sorts of medical studies have revealed that MSG causes obesity, along with a lot of other nasty things. The better you feed your body, the longer you will live with a greater quality of life.
2. You will save money
It's much cheaper to cook at home regularly than to order takeaways, buy in ready meals or eat at restaurants regularly especially once you’ve gathered some basic ingredients. With a few quick, healthy recipes, you can make a week’s worth of dinners for about the same amount of money you’d spend in a mid-range restaurant for two or three meals. Plus, don't you think leftovers always taste better the second time around - and they're great for lunch the next day! Your freezer will also start to pay its way. Cook in bulk and freeze for those days when you know you’ll get in late and won’t feel like cooking.
3. You control your portion sizes
A big factor in our tendency to overeat apparently is portion sizes, which have gotten bigger over the years. Portion control, is much easier when you decide how much goes on your plate. Also, you would probably eat less at home since you can save it for later, whereas you might eat everything at a restaurant because you'll be damned if you're going to throw away the food you paid for!
On the flip side though, could you actually be encouraged to eat more, as at home there's no embarrassment about going for seconds?! If you think you might give in to this temptation, here’s an idea; when you make a meal, make a small portion. Then, if you want seconds you’d have to make more food instead of simply getting it – making it less likely for you to overeat this way!
4. You will start to "buy ingredients, not food"
I heard this phrase from a lovely visitor to my stall at one of the festivals, and it made such sense! As you start to cook at home more, you're bound to want to learn better techniques to improve what you produce, and understand how you put ingredients together to make a tasty meal. Remember when you first made that recipe and it tasted yuk, so you Googled it to find out how to do it better – that’s what I mean! You will also discover more ways to vary your meals, perhaps swapping ingredients for something you'd never thought of trying before. Or you could find salt-free ways to season your food, for example. The better you get at cooking the more chance there is of you falling in love with it ~ yay!
5. You will lose weight
Following on nicely from the above reasons, it's inevitable that you will lose weight if you're controlling how much of the weight-inducing ingredients in your food. Excess amounts of the wrong type and quantity of salt, sugar and fat have all been linked with excess weight gain, as many of these things are labelled in a confusing way or hidden under the guise of "low fat", "diet" or even "gluten free". Your weight loss is also more likely to be slower, but more healthy and sustainable for your body.
6. You will get healthier, and feel it too
As you lose weight, it becomes easier to exercise. Think about when you last lost weight, and you started to receive all those compliments! Well, what better motivation to start and stick with an exercise routine. The more you stick with it, the easier the exercise becomes (promise), and you get better at challenging yourself to do that one extra mile, or those extra squats. If you feel knackered when running around with the children, imagine what it will be like to tire them out because you're so full of energy!
7. You will discover quick and healthy recipes
And to be honest, you will kind of have to really! Slaving over the hob after a long day at work is soul destroying, and you can easily talk yourself out of cooking on the way home. As you start become more confident at cooking, you'll most likely build up a list of your favourite quick, healthy recipes, and they don't all have to be salads! Quinoa, a great healthy substitute for white rice cooks in around 10 minutes. Spiralized vegetables, a great healthy substitute for spaghetti, cooks even quicker than pasta. That's if you even want to cook it, as it's amazing eaten raw as well – in a salad!
8. You will redefine 'fast food'!
Cooking at home is often faster than going out! If you add up the time it takes getting to a restaurant, waiting to be seated, waiting to be served, eating, paying, then driving home again. That's enough time to cook at least a tasty, healthy two course meal, load the dishwasher, and get rooted to the sofa! You'll also be more comfortable in the process – shoes off, favourite music on your mp3 - throw in a few drinks and you've got a version of Tom Cruise in 'Cocktail' too!
If you don't have a good supply of local food shops, you can also sign up to a food delivery service. These are growing all the time, and they're a great way to make sure you always have a regular supply of organic or locally sourced ingredients to hand.
9. You will support local farmers, food producers and your local economy
As you get better at cooking and start to learn more about real food and how it should taste, you will want your ingredients to taste better, be fresher and know where they came from. Logically, local food shops score well in terms of supporting small businesses and the freshness of your food, which matters to how nutritious it is. Many local food outlets also tend to sell more of a variety of ingredients – and that often encourages you to experiment more, and more variety means less boredom with your food. I bet all that freshness and flavour encourages you to hit your five-a-day of fruit and veg more easily!
You've also got a great opportunity to your local producers to up their game. As you eat healthier you will be more picky about what you put into your body, and start to demand more organic and minimal pesticide use. This also helps you get involved in shaping your local economy. By creating demand you're encouraging & supporting local business who often buy from other local business helping more to thrive as well.
10. You will learn new skills and your life will change!
All the above reasons to cook your own food will change your life in some way! Imagine what else you could change in your life if you revolutionised your health by cooking your own food! You could also start inviting friends round for meals, find your way into someone’s heart through their stomach, or share your new skills and inspire others.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying “right, this starts on Monday no matter what”. You will most likely need to ease into it slowly. You could start one night a week, then gradually build up. If you still don’t feel confident teaching yourself, there are lots of cooking classes and schools all over the country, which you could use just to get you started. You might even meet some new friends, or your next partner – you’ll have something in common already!
My life most definitely changed when I started to be more conscious about the food I was eating! I've pretty much always cooked most of my meals, but I wasn't giving enough thought to the ingredients I was using, even though I was making them from scratch. I'm convinced that this desire to be more mindful of what I was eating, bought me to set up my range of healthy, yet indulgent Truffles, Treats & Desserts! They're packed full of natural ingredients that feed and nourish your body, but you would never believe they were healthy! Find out more about Abundance Foods range of Truffles, Treats & Desserts.
To conclude – instead of using time, convenience, money and confidence as reasons not to cook your own food, make them reasons to start cooking your own food! You’ll be in more control of your diet and health, and you could discover a whole new YOU!
I share healthy tips, advice and recipes on my Twitter page and through my newsletter! You can sign up here.
8/14/2017 11:57:30 pm
Great read! I've recently learned to cook my own meals after being diagnosed as pre diabetic which came as such a shock. You're correct that's it's the only real way to know how much chemicals and other stuff you shouldn't be eating is in your food. It's tough sometimes but your blog has motivated me to keep going! Keep up the good work!
8/15/2017 09:16:00 am
8/18/2017 02:45:41 pm
8/20/2017 03:50:58 pm
8/18/2017 02:49:07 pm
This really hit home for me! I have been reading your blog posts for awhile, and I'm first time posting. I live a busy life, but try to keep things as basic as possible. Cooking is one of those things. Home-cooked meals are a must!! (even if they were heated in the microwave–on our way to busy things) I value knowing how to do things, so I'm looking forward to more of your recipes and will be making your protein bars recipe this weekend.
8/20/2017 03:11:31 pm
8/20/2017 03:14:54 pm
Often the foods we choose as ingredients may have toxins or be genetically modified, so not only should we cook from scratch, we should be aware of the foods’ sources as well. I try to buy organic where I can but I find it so expensive sometimes. Great post!
8/20/2017 03:57:23 pm
8/20/2017 03:23:11 pm
8/20/2017 03:45:25 pm
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