As a millennial, I know how easy it is to go to the new, cool restaurant. New restaurants with different and upbeat atmospheres are popping up everywhere. Fusion restaurants and breweries are all the rage right now. Most of us know that eating out is hard on the bank account, but it turns out it is also not so good for your health too.
Millennials go out at an astounding frequency. According to USA Today, 54% of millennials eat out at least three times per week. In contrast, 40% of Americans, in the same survey, said they only buy take-out once a week.
Why should we break this cycle?
Cooking at home is healthier than eating at a restaurant. Most of this can be contributed to the fact that you know exactly what you are putting in your food. Also, you are likely using far less fat and salt in your cooking than a restaurant.
Making home-cooked meals allows us to bond with our spouses and children. We can also use this time to connect with old friends or make new friends — dinner party anyone?
I can’t begin to tell you how many times my family and I have sat around the kitchen table talking and playing games while dinner was cooking. Not to mention all the BBQs I have had with my friends when we can find time to get together.
Now don’t worry, I am not going to tell you that you cannot eat at restaurants or millennials are “killing” home cooking. I am not here to tell you that eating out is the reason why you’re poor. Instead, I want to focus on why cooking is healthier for you and how it might be better for your social life.
Home-Cooking is Healthier
Cooking at home can potentially be healthier for you than going out to eat, especially if you frequent fast-food restaurants. Restaurants tend to have larger serving sizes, more fat, and sodium than what you would cook at home. Also, they may be using some ingredients that are terrible for your health, such as trans fat.
Meeting your nutrition goals are simpler when you eat at home, whether that is to lose weight, maintain weight, or simply eat healthier. One study published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity found that “those eating home-cooked more than five times was week consumed 62.3 g more fruit (99% CI 43.2 to 81.5) and 97.8 g more vegetables (99% CI 84.4 to 111.2) daily.”
Because those eating more home-cooked meals consumed more fruits and vegetables regularly, they were able to maintain healthier body weight and body fat percentage. Weight and body fat percentage are two primary causes of the top health conditions facing the United States today. Some of these conditions include heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and high cholesterol.
For those of us looking to be healthier, cooking at home might be the best option. When we cook at home more frequently we can control what and how much we eat as well as how our food is being prepared, such as baked versus deep-fried. Cooking at home will allow us to consume higher-quality nutrition and thusly able to be healthier individuals.
Home-Cooking Builds Relationships
I have been cooking ever since I have been tall enough to reach the stove. When I was a kid, maybe 9 or 10, I started making egg sandwiches in the morning. That was my introduction.
Cooking with my mom became a regular thing and as I got older I would sometimes start dinner before my parents got home. As great as all of that was, the memories I created baking apple pie with my grandmother are the ones I cherish the most.
When I think back on all my memories sitting around with my family and having a good time, nearly every time it was in the kitchen. There is something about food that brings us together — likely why we put so much emphasis on food around the holidays.
Breaking Bread: the Functions of Social Eating, a study published in Adaptive Human Behavior and Physiology by R. I. M. Dunbar, showed that people who ate with others frequently were happier. Dunbar found that “those who eat socially more often feel happier and are more satisfied with life, are more trusting of others, are more engaged with their local communities, and have more friends they can depend on for support.”
Eating with others in a social setting has proven to make us happier and build stronger relationships with those that we dine with frequently. Dunbar also suggests that evenings are the best time to have these social events. This might be because most people are working or studying during the day making evenings easier to gather groups of people together.
Home-Cooking is Your Time to be Creative
Cooking is an art. There are so many different ways to cook and different combinations of food — the possibilities are endless.
You can cook food by grilling, smoking, braising, baking, and so much more. My favorites for summer months are easily smoked meat and grilled foods. The flavors you obtain from smoke and char are fantastic. The winter months are full of great soups and slow cooker favorites, like beef stew, chili, and chicken wild rice soup.
You can be creative in the combination of foods such as salty-sweet, sweet and savory, spicy-sweet. Experimenting with different flavor combinations can be a bit overwhelming at times, but searching online for recipes is an easy way to try something new.
Try making your 2020 resolution to cook more. Think of all the amazing dishes you have had at restaurants, then try to recreate them. One of my favorites I have tried replicating is a smoked corned beef brisket to make a Reuben sandwich. It comes out salty, smokey, slightly charred and fatty. A delicious combination.
Use this next year to let your creativity shine in the kitchen or on the grill. Use it as an opportunity to bond with your friends and family. Use it to become healthier. Cooking at home has been proven to not only be easier on the bank account but also great for your health and building relationships