10 Tips for making cooking at home a win-win on your busiest nights

  • 2 Minutes Read
Brenda Braslow
Brenda Braslow, MS, RDN, LDN, CDCES - Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist (CDCES)

Find out why frequent restaurant meals might be a problem for your health and learn 10 tips for successfully making healthy and tasty food at home.

Healthy & tasty food

The benefits of cooking at home vs eating out

There are many reasons we obtain our food and drink away from home, including convenience and saving time. In addition, studies have found that many people do not prepare foods in the home because they feel they lack cooking skills, think it will be more expensive, and it takes too much of their time. One study showed that the same people who reported a lack of time to cook at home were not concerned about the time they spent on the computer, watching television, or using the cell phone. Hmm.

So, we spend more time using electronics than cooking. What's the problem, you ask? Well, it may be part of the reason we have a growing obesity and diabetes epidemic in this country. A review of studies showed eating food eaten away from home is positively linked with becoming overweight or obese. Percent body fat and heart disease risk were considerably greater with weekly fast food and takeout purchases. Restaurant meals often have larger portions (so we get our money's worth), have more saturated fat and more sodium, but are usually lower in fruits, vegetables, fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

Do you want to cook more often at home but feel a little unsure of yourself in the kitchen? Just get in there and have some fun! Turn on your favorite music and start cooking. Instead of feeling intimidated by celebrity chefs, you may want to get a simple cookbook to help you learn some cooking basics. You do need to do a little planning and organizing to make it happen. Start with a grocery list and a few simple recipes.

Tips for cooking healthy and tasty food at home

1. Find a few recipes to cook each week

Did you know hundreds of dietitian-approved recipes are available with the Premium MyNetDiary membership? If you want to add a Premium recipe to your food diary, type in the recipe name. It is already entered and analyzed for you. There are also loads of recipes online. Use sites with healthy recipes, such as www.eatingwell.com or www.cookinglight.com.

2. Keep a collection of recipes

Use a computer file, recipe card file, or notebook to compile your own collection of favorite recipes. Rate your recipes so you can remember which ones you enjoyed. Toss the ones you didn't like or know you'll never try.

3. Do more time-intensive cooking on your days off

Make a double batch so you have another frozen meal already prepped. For other meal prepping tips and foods to keep prepped in the kitchen, click here.

4. Use tools that make cooking easier

Pull out the slow cooker, instant pot, pressure cooker, or use convection oven baking or roasting to make cooking easier and faster.

5. For busy weeks, choose recipes that serve double duty

Grilled or roasted chicken can be used later in the week for chicken salad and for a chicken casserole. Freeze some for a later recipe. Have a marker on hand to label frozen containers with contents and date.

6. Chop extra peppers and onions to freeze for later

You can also buy pre-washed and pre-cut fresh veggies or frozen diced onions and peppers for soups and casseroles.

7. Keep a running grocery list

Keep a list in the kitchen or on your phone to add needed items as you notice them. Stocking your kitchen based on the food groups can help you create simple healthy meals. Employ MyNetDiary's easy shopping list feature.

8. Freeze foods that spoil quickly

If you are worried about food going bad, freeze items like bread, muffins, nuts, and cheese. Frozen vegetables, fruits, and whole grains also work as they don't perish quickly.

9. Keep the pantry stocked

Stock your kitchen with a variety of food groups. Include fresh and frozen fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, such as brown rice, couscous, quinoa, whole-wheat pasta, and polenta. Many refrigerated dairy products can also be frozen, and always keep a variety of lean proteins like poultry, eggs, tofu, and pulses. Remember to stock healthy fats, oils, herbs, and spices.

10. Have fun in the kitchen

Play your favorite music and unwind while you cook. Before you know it, you may just find yourself looking forward to preparing meals at home!

Related content

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In a cooking rut? How to meal plan for weight loss

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Dining Out->Portion Size & Calories Meal Planning & Diets->"Plan, Shop, Prep, and Cook"
Jul 15, 2022

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