Busy lifestyles and a wide variety of takeaway /ready-meal options have made it very easy for many of us to give less priority to cooking meals “from scratch”. Research shows many health benefits for those who cook the majority of their meals at home. As a community, we are beginning to realise the huge impacts for future health when young adults leave home with little idea about how to cook and instead rely on ready-made foods in one form or another.
The advantages of home cooked meals include:
Home cooking allows you to avoid the high amounts of calories, unhealthy fat, sodium and sugars often present in food purchased outside the home.
Increased knowledge of food:
Preparing your own helps you understand more about ingredients and cooking methods – which ones are necessary for certain products and which ones aren’t!
You will develop a new-found appreciation of your food when you have invested time and energy into preparing it. Match this with slowing down and savouring your food, rather than mindlessly consuming more than you need.
Serving sizes matched to your needs:
Commercially prepared foods are often presented in serving sizes that are much bigger than we need. Our instinct to “get our money’s worth” means we often eat all of these “larger than necessary” servings. Preparing at home means you can start with the right amount to provide an appropriate serving.
Serving food on to a plate (in the recommended proportions) rather than from serving dishes on the table is another benefit. Provided a plate is full and colourful (half a plate of noon-starchy vegetables), many family members will be content with smaller amounts of protein (quarter of a plate or a palm –sized serving) and carbohydrate-rich starchy foods (up to1/4 of a plate or a fist-sized serve) than they would serve for themselves!
“Failing to plan is planning to fail” applies here. Plan your meals for a week at a time; one to two home cooked meals for starters if they haven’t been a big part of your life up until now. Choose recipes from helpful sources – past Living Life Well Magazines, Healthy Food Guide (look for their “diabetes friendly” tag) etc. Plan some short cuts into your menu, e.g. something similar, finished differently from the same starting dish, e.g. a mince base in wraps one night and over noodles the next.
Happy & Healthy Cooking!