Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Healthy Eating Tips - Reasons to Eat at Home

Cooking food at home makes sense these days for lots of reasons. With the economy the way it is, many people who never before caught the cooking bug, are heading for the kitchen. In fact, Kroger Co., the nation's largest traditional grocery store chain, reported a profit increase of 8% in the 4th quarter, in large part due to more people bypass restaurants in favor of eating at home.

Casseroles make great comfort food.
Casseroles make great comfort food.
Whether you're an accomplished cook or an aspiring chef, here are some important reasons to eat at home.

1. Saving money on your food budget 

Restaurant prices are going up, even as portion sizes are being cut to save money. My mom and dad reported that their favorite restaurant in Oregon, Sherry's, cut out their senior menu and also cut portions on their regular meals, meaning it my parents pay an average increase of $4 when they go out to breakfast now and still get the same amount of food as they did on the senior menu.

Eating at home saves you money, plain and simple. Buying your own groceries allows you to use coupons, sales and store brands to help save even more on your food budget.

2. Food cooked at home is much healthier! 

One important reason to eat at home is that you can use healthier oils and other substitutions to cut fat and calories. Eating at a restaurant leaves you unsure of just how your food was prepared or if the restaurant is honestly reporting the fat, calories and ingredients. When you eat at home, you know your food is fresh and prepared just the way you want it.

Many studies link restaurant meals to obesity. Portion sizes can be huge, causing you to eat many more calories than if you were eating at home. If you have children, you know that their favorite meals in restaurants are usually a burger and fries or pizza - certainly not the healthiest of fare.

3. One great reason to eat at home is leftovers. 

Prepare a little extra for lunch the next day or turn the left over baked chick in to chicken and dumplings the next day. (Another great way to save on the food budget!)

4. Eating at home can be much more relaxing than eating out. 

Make dinner an event. Set the mood for your dining experience. Turn off the TV and put on some nice music. Dress up your table with flowers and a nice table setting. Kick off your shoes, sip some wine and enjoy a leisurely meal.

5. Families benefit from eating dinner together

It gives you a chance to talk to your kids about their day and work on their table manners at the same time. I don't know about your kids, but going to a restaurant with our grandchildren is stressful and not in the least bit relaxing! Granted, they are all under five years of age, but dinner at home with children is much preferable to taking them out.

Studies show that families who eat dinner together are much less likely to have children who get into drugs or other activities they shouldn't be involved in. Get the kids involved instead in helping you plan menus, cut out coupons and shop for food. Give them a small task to do in helping to create the dinner so they can learn about cooking and feel the pride of accomplishment too.

6. Start some new traditions by eating at home. 

Let's face it, many of our favorite memories revolve around food. Special family dinners, our mother or grandmother's favorite recipes or certain comfort foods like a rich, fragrant soup on a cold day. Having meals at home can create those types of memories and traditions for your own family.

7. Feel accomplished by creating a great home-cooked meal.

It's it nice to fix a meal for the family and be showered with compliments? With very little practice and some good recipes, anyone can create a gourmet feast at home. Cooking is an art, like painting or playing a musical instrument. You get better with practice and it satisfies the creative spirit in all of us.

8. Your pets will love you for eating at home!

Whenever I'm in my cooking corner of the kitchen, I always have an appreciative audience. My two dogs and my cat are always looking on, waiting for a crumb to fall. We always save some tidbits for them after dinner, making sure it's lean meat (no sauces, spices or rich foods). I wouldn't give my pets anything from a restaurant as it most always contains extra rich ingredients.

These are just a few reasons to eat at home but I'm sure you've discovered others as well. Creating family time and wonderful memories are what life is about and cooking dinner at home is a great place to start.
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