The Benefits of Eating at Home
Eating out frequently can take a toll on your health as well as your wallet. Read on for some reminders on the benefits of cooking at home.

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Picture of a child cooking with mother The Benefits of Eating at Home

Busy family schedules and late work nights are common excuses for eating out. That means more trips to restaurants or last-minute phone calls for easy and sometimes greasy take-out.

But if your stove is gathering dust, your wallet and your waistline may not be the only things suffering. Dining out frequently can also take a toll on your long-term health.

Cooking at home offers many forgotten benefits. The next time you're tempted to leave the cooking to someone else, consider how eating out will affect you and your family. Here are some things to think about:

What you see is what you get
At home, you know exactly what ingredients are used to prepare your meal. You also have total control over how much spice, oil, butter, or salt is added.

Portion control
Restaurants are known for huge portions. Sure, you may be able to bring home a doggie bag, but will you have the discipline to stop eating when there is still food on the plate? When serving at home, it's easier to dole out a smaller portion - knowing you can go back for more.

Healthier options
Though most restaurants offer a few healthy meals, the temptation to order higher-fat or higher-calorie options can win out in the end. When you cook nutritious meals at home, you can eliminate the extra butter, sugar, or cheese.

Money savings
Eating out all the time is expensive. Feeding salad, spaghetti, and meatballs at home to a family of four will cost you about $20. Going out for the same meal will be at least double to triple that price. And remember when you eat at home, you don't have to tip.

Time savings
Eating at home can be more of a timesaver than eating out. If you have a well-stocked kitchen, you can cook up an easy meal in minutes. That means no car trips, parking problems, or bad service. And by cooking extra, you can save your leftovers for a quick and easy lunch or dinner the next day.

Long-term health care savings
Consistently eating high-calorie, high-fat foods can lead to obesity and heart disease, among other chronic issues. Eating healthier, home-cooked meals and adopting a healthier lifestyle will leave you less likely to develop these health conditions. This can save you a lot of money in the future on costs related to health care and prescriptions.

Your example
Kids tend to model the behavior of their parents. So if you are constantly eating out, your kids are likely to adopt that habit as well. Cooking at home affords more opportunities for teaching your kids about healthy habits. They can also get involved in the preparation.

Creativity and satisfaction
Eating at home can bring out your creative side, as you have to come up with varied ideas for what to cook. And don't rule out the added benefit of how good it feels to prepare wholesome, home-cooked meals for you and your family.

Though it initially takes some extra care and planning, the rewards of home cooking are well worth it.

By Jane Schwartz Harrison, RD, Staff Writer
Created on 05/16/2011
Updated on 05/18/2011
  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Prevention makes common "cents."
  • National Institutes of Health. Eat right.
Copyright © OptumHealth.
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