Homemade meals… why you should make them part of your routine/ lifestyle:
We all have busy lives… and let’s face it… doing dishes EVERY night (without fail) feels more exhausting than necessary… but as often as possible eating in is important.
Eating in with homemade meals that is!
^^^ We all know some obvious reasons why this is true, but it’s funny how even the simplest of truths get thrown out the window when life gets busy..
The psychologist in me wants to tell you why this is true: –> I can’t help myself…
Our brains are magnificent organs. The unicorn of brains… More evolved than any other animal… but still there’s only so much info our little brains can handle.
When our prefrontal cortex (the part of our brain in charge of logical planning/ decision making) becomes overloaded… it shuts down… literally it goes night night, and then sometimes we make bad choices.
AKA… I’m super tired, where is the nearest McDonalds. I’ll take five whoppers please, thanks. What? Wrong drive through? Burger King is accross the street (phew!)
The prefrontal cortex basically negotiates how we think and act… and wants to keep our actions in line with our internal goals.
Internal Goals… this sounds serious. What are my internal Eating Goals? —> Eating healthy obviously. So my prefrontal cortex decides to eat a salad instead of that cheesy pizza for lunch (unless I’m overwhelmed and tired… in which case… so is my prefrontal cortex; we’re napping together).
And while we are asleep my amygdala probably… actually definitely has taken over. AKA my animal instincts and my feelings: So my only thoughts are, “me hungry, me tired, me want pizza”.
^^ Okay, enough of that.
Here are 12 reasons why you should strive to make homemade meals and eating in a part of your regular routine. The occasional take out and restaurant experiences are a must. It’s part of life, and those experiences are priceless… but on the regular let’s get back to basics!
Homemade Meals – The Benefits
1. Save Money
The total cost of a homemade meal is much less – it can be up to 4 times cheaper. EX: A home-made spaghetti dinner with salad for a family of four costs approximately $9 ($2.25 /person). A spaghetti dinner with salad at a restaurant may cost up to $44 or more ($11 /person), without beverages, tax or tip. 
2. Save Time
Eating out is not always faster… Studies have shown that most people can put dinner on the table in 30 minutes or less, while eating out takes an average of 80 minutes between the moment you leave until you arrive back home. 
3. Save Calories
On average, an item in a restaurant will have twice the calories of the same item cooked at home. EX: Grilled chicken from a restaurant contains about 766 calories, while grilled chicken cooked at home contains about 434 calories. Restaurant lasagna contains about 650 calories, while home-cooked lasagna contains about 340 calories.
Why?? Homemade Meals use less sugar, salt, and fat in meal preparation. Additionally, most restaurants serve portions that are at least twice the size of a recommended serving. 
4. Know What You’re Eating
Home cooking allows for control over ingredients used as well as the type and quantity of added sugar, fat and sodium. When eating out, our knowledge of the food preparation process is often limited.
5. Improve Your Cooking Skills
Start with quick and simple meals – your cooking/shopping/meal-planing skills naturally improve by eating in more often.
6. Rediscover the Seasons
Experience seasonal produce by cooking, shopping or even growing your own food.
7. Increase your energy level
Eating healthy and nutritious foods will give you more energy.
8. Support A Healthy Lifestyle
Studies have shown that eating out is associated with decreased nutritional quality and increased weight gain. Eating homemade meals is associated with increased intakes of fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and it has been linked to improvement in overall health and a decrease in body mass index (BMI). 
When we cook our own food, we increase the amount of fiber and nutrient rich ingredients we consume .
A survey of young adults (764 males, 946 females, ages 18-23) published in 2006 in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that those who reported frequent food preparation were more likely to meet dietary guidelines for fruit, calcium and vegetable consumption. 
The restaurant industry uses a large amount of sodium as preservative to prolong the shelf-life of many products. At home, we can replace salt using herbs and spices.
80% of processed foods have added sugar . In 1800, we were eating 10 pounds of sugar/person/year. Today, we consume 152 pounds of sugar/person/year. 
9. Help Conquer Obesity
Obesity rates in children have more than tripled between 1970 and 1999 and have nearly doubled in adults(1976–1999).
Some factors thought to contribute to weight increases include […] increased fast food and snack food consumption, and declining occurrence of the family meal. Additionally, rates of lifestyle-related chronic diseases such as diabetes and cancer have also increased. 
One study demonstrated that kids as young as four have a lower risk of obesity if they regularly eat family dinners. 
10. Reduce Food Waste
On average, Americans do not finish 17% food ordered in restaurants; 55% of these leftovers are left behind. .
11. Quality Time
Homemade meals can give families control over their food supply, help them to connect to each other, and enable them to explore their own and others’ food cultures. 
Time spent cooking also makes for a great family activity or date night.
Eating in is an excellent opportunity for educating children on topics such as eating healthy and saving money.
12. Keep Kids on the Right Track
More than 1/3 of US parents say they eat take-out regularly… and that 1/5 of all meals are consumed in a car. Eating meals together as a family is associated with better nutritional quality and better school performance for children. 
One study demonstrated that frequency of family meals was associated with a significantly lower odds of tobacco, alcohol and marijuana use, low grade point average, depressive symptoms and suicidal ideation .
Here’s some additional stats for your reading pleasure. I love me some convincing stats – a few of these are a bit dated, but I’m highly convinced they remain applicable today… and well always.
Trends: Eating In vs. Eating Out in the US
1. In 2010, 50% of meals were eaten outside of the home; one in five breakfasts came from McDonald’s. 
2. Most people are relying on convenient/processed/packaged/easy-to-prepare and away from-home foods. 
3. Eating out increased from 10% of all food expenditure in 1960 to 47% in 1998. 
4. Since 1985, fast food sales have increased, growing annually at a rate of 6.8% and comprising 34.2% of all food purchased outside the home in 1997. 
5. Based on 1965 and 1995/1998 US time diary studies, the overall time spent on meal preparation decreased 38.6% during this period. 
 Dr. Mark Hyman. www.drhyman.com
 Lindsey P Smith, Shu Wen Ng and Barry M Popkin. Trends in US home food preparation and consumption: analysis of national nutrition surveys and time use studies from 1965–1966 to 2007–2008. Nutritional Journal. 2013;12:1-10.
 Jennifer Jabs and Carol M. Devine. Time scarcity and food choices: An overview. Appetite. 2006;47:196-204.
 Colorado State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture and Southeast Area. Cooking at Home Versus Eating Out. 2010.
 Brian Lipinski, Craig Hanson, James Lomax, Lisa Kitinoja, Richard Waite and Tim Searchinger. Reducing food loss and waste. United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). June 2013.
 NI Larson, CL Perry, M Story, D Neumark-Sztainer. Food preparation by young adults is associated with better diet quality. Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 2006;106:2001-2007.
 Dean Simmons and Gwen E. Chapman. The significance of home cooking within families. British Food Journal. 2012;114:1184-1195.
 ME Eisenberg, RE Olson, D Neumark-Sztainer, M Story, LH Bearinger. Correlations between family meals and psychosocial well-being among adolescents. Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. 2004;158:792-796.
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