After three months of lockdowns and stay-at-home-orders, chances are you had your fair share of home cooking. We certainly did. But before you throw in the towel and speed dial your local takeout haunt, let us lure you back into the kitchen with our 10 reasons why home cooking rules.
1. It's fun
There’s something extremely rewarding about transforming raw ingredients into a mouthwatering dish, not to mention caring for and sharing it with those you love. And chopping vegetables can be strangely satisfying with a meditative aspect to it. As long as those knives are sharp, of course.
2. Everyone can be involved
Everyone can cook. Kids love to be involved and tend to be less fussy eating when they have prepared their own food. And for those who are adamant that they’d burn everything, including water? Well, there is always the washing up that needs to be done after.
3. Home cooking saves you money
A family sized, oven ready lasagna at your average supermarket comes in at around $14. The package might say ‘serves 8,’ but realistically, it only feeds four. Because in what world counts a single cup of lasagne as a satisfying portion?
If you’d make the same dish at home, you’d end up at around $10.* You would save four dollars on a single meal. Not only that, but also...
4. It’s healthier for you
That lasagna? Not only is it cheaper, it is also entirely organic. Organic meats and produce contain less harmful substances, such as antibiotics or pesticides. They are better for you, the animals and the environment. Of course, buying organic is not always possible for a multitude of reasons. Price is maybe the most mentioned one, but not in this case.
5. You decide what goes in. And what doesn’t
If you cook your own food, you are almost entirely in charge of what goes into your body. That includes the amount of salt, saturated fats, sugar, etc. Ready made foods often contain high amounts of sodium, fat, sugar and ‘bulking material,’ such as starch. Salt, fat and sugar are meant to bring out flavors while starch helps you feel fuller. And while preservatives make for a longer shelf life, they can wreak havoc on your guts. When you cook at home, you can work with fresh ingredients to achieve the same taste results, entirely without any nasties.
6. Better for the waistline
Aforementioned lasagna weighs in at 580 calories per two-cup portion. The homemade version? 344 calories. Do we need to say more?
7. It’s convenient
Admittedly, there’s a bit of planning involved. But as soon as you’ve got the hang of it and a good routine going, batch cooking means you can freeze portions of your favorite food and reheat as needed.
8. Less food waste
Got some random ingredients in your fridge and no clue what to do with them? Google ‘what to do with x, y and z’ and look what comes up. It’s quite entertaining, and you might be on the way to discovering your next favorite dish.
9. Spoil yourself - without the guilty aftertaste
Having the occasional takeout or going out for a meal becomes a real treat when you do it occasionally. Cooking at home on the regular means those treats don’t a) break the bank and b) mess up your healthy eating efforts.
10. Save the environment
Most takeouts and readymade meals still come in non-recyclable plastic containers, complete with plastic bags and plastic cutlery. All of which ends up in landfill. Cooking at home drastically reduces the waste we produce.
*Homemade lasagna for four: A pound of organic beef (Trader Joe’s, $5.99), half a pack of oven ready lasagna sheets (Barilla, $1.99), a can of organic whole peeled tomatoes (Target, $1.99), a handful of organic carrots (any market, under $0.99), organic grated cheese (Target, 6 oz for $2.59). Kitchen staples such as milk, flour, butter, salt, pepper, olive oil, herbs and one onion.