I travel a lot. I’m on the road at least 3 days, every other week. My grocery shopping tends to reflect this, as I buy food the week I’ll be in town, and then skip shopping the week I’ll be out of town. And, for those weeks I skip food shopping, I tend to eat out both on the road and while at home. Needless to say, I don’t really cook as often as I’d like. And, with $1.5 billion in Restaurant-industry sales on a typical day in 2008, there is a good chance that I’m in good company.
Whether it be a result of a lot of travel, busy schedules and limited time, or just a bit of laziness, there are many reasons why people are choosing to eat out. And, although restaurants are providing more healthier options today than they were five years ago, this may not be so great for our waistlines, or for that matter, our pocketbooks. Although eating out shouldn’t be abolished all together, it isn’t necessarily the best way to go ALL of the time. Here are a few reasons you might want to consider getting reacquainted with your kitchen:
- Full Ingredient Disclosure: In order to make dishes taste especially yummy, restaurants often use ‘hidden’ ingredients. Some of the most popular include: butter, oil, sugar and cream. All of which add loads of calories to a dish that may seem otherwise healthy.
- The Benefits of Cooking at Home: When you cook at home, you have full control of what you put into your dishes, enabling you to really understand how healthy or unhealthy your meal is. Additionally, you can substitute less fattening ingredients for more healthier options.
- Portion Control:To appear as though they are providing you with good value, Restaurant portions have gone through the roof. If you order an entree, there is a good chance that you will receive two to three times the amount of food you really need. Unfortunately, many of us have a difficult time assessing how much of the meal we should eat, let alone stopping when we actually feel full (I know personally, that if the food is in front of me, I’m highly inclined to eat it).
- The Benefits of Cooking at Home: When you cook at home, you have full control of how much food you make, and how much you eat. If you are a real stickler for portion size, you can even weigh and/or measure your accurate portions. This will ensure you are eating the right amount and not overeating.
- Cost Savings: When we eat out, we often spend a lot of money, especially if it is at a quality restaurant that serves quality food. Further, you are spending money, not only on the food, but on the ambiance, service, and more. You can be sure you are spending 4 to 5 times the actual cost of the food itself.
- The Benefits of Cooking at Home: When we do our grocery shopping, we buy foods at a much lower cost than at a restaurant. Further, what you spend in a restaurant will go a lot further at home, with food lasting more than just one meal. Lastly, you can prepare dishes so that you can break them up over multiple meals for your week, saving you money.
- Insuring Ingredient Quality: Many restaurants, especially your lower-end chain restaurants, do not necessarily use the highest of quality ingredients. Very few restaurants actually buy organic and many don’t buy free-range, hormone and antibiotic free, meat, dairy, poultry and fish. This is partly because a lot of restaurants buy in bulk to save money, and many of the organic and antibiotic free foods aren’t available in bulk. Further, organic can cost two times the price of regular food, which cuts into the restaurant’s profit margins.
- The Benefits of Cooking at Home: Buying quality ingredients is important to your health. Although it might seem like a lot of hype, there is a lot of benefit to eating organic and foods that don’t contain preservatives, hormones or antibiotics. If you cook at home, you can choose better quality ingredients for your dishes, making your meals that much healthier.
- Thwarting Temptation: We’ve all been there. We finish our dinner and the waitress or waiter comes over and asks us if we want dessert. Even though we are full, we somehow always manage to squeeze in a chocolate lava cake. Don’t get me wrong…I LOVE the chocolate lava cake, but if you eat out a lot, that could be A LOT of lava!
- The Benefits of Cooking at Home: If you are anything like me, you don’t have oodles of dessert stored in your kitchen cabinets. If I want a real dessert (other than an occasional piece of dark chocolate), I have to physically go out and get it. Cooking at home allows you to thwart the temptation of dessert.
- Menu Management: When you go out to eat, you are given unlimited options. Even though your mind might be telling you to stick to the Salad Entree column, your stomach can easily guide you over to the Vodka a la Penne and 5 Cheese Lasagna. When you are hungry, especially, you are easily distracted from your healthy eating goals.
- The Benefits of Cooking at Home: When you cook at home, you have to plan. You have to buy the ingredients you need and you have to put actual thought into what you are going to make. This is a very proactive thought process, versus the more detrimental reactive process of eating out. As a result, you will be less likely to eat unhealthy foods and more likely to make and consume healthier meals.
Eating out can be a wonderful treat. But, if we eat out more often than not, there is a good chance that we are doing our healthy diets a disservice.
Do you eat out more than cook? What other benefits do you see from staying in and skipping the restaurants?
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- Is Organic Worth it?
- Should You Buy Organic for Your Kids?
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- Should the Government Ban McDonald’s?