Benefits of Healthy Home Cooked Meals

by Kay Easton
CulinaryEd Columnist
May 10, 2013

"The most important and the most powerful tool you have to change your health … is your fork," according to Mark Hyman, MD (huffingtonpost.com). Preparing healthy home cooked meals rather than dining out can provide a whole bread basket full of benefits including improving health and longevity and increasing family social community.

Healthy home cooked means can improve health and longevity

Fact: The results of a 10 year study published in Public Health Nutrition in 2012 link frequent cooking to living longer, according to the Cambridge Journals Blog (blog.journals.cambridge.org).

Fact: The global cancer rate is projected to increase to 15 million new cases every year by 2020, up 50 percent from 2000. The World Health Organization tags unhealthy diets and inadequate exercise as major contributors (who.int).

A mostly plant-based diet can help prevent cancer as well as other chronic diseases, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which provides three tips for eating healthy (choosemyplate.gov).

  1. Focus on foods you need: Five or more servings of vegetables and fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy products and lean protein foods are more nutritious and generally lower in calories.
  2. Eat fewer empty calories: Empty calories are those from solid fats and/or added sugars. We all know what they are - cakes, cookies, pastries and donuts; sodas, energy drinks, sports drinks and fruit drinks; cheese; pizza; ice cream; sausages, hot dogs and bacon.
  3. Decrease portion sizes: Make a practice of cooking "no leftovers" meals. This doesn't mean finishing all of the food on the table but cooking smaller portions.

Wake up call: Nightmares or dreams?

The recommended daily average calorie intake for an adult is 2,000 calories with 56 to 78 grams of fat (preferably from "good" sources such as nuts, avocados and olive oil) and approximately 1,500 to 2,300 milligrams of salt depending on health and age (cnpp.usda.gov).

  • 1,631 calories, 81.6 grams of fat and 2,212 mg of salt in a fast food meal with a Whopper with cheese, medium fries and a medium vanilla shake
  • 571 calories, 6.6 grams of fat and 933 mg of salt in a home cooked meal with half a roasted chicken breast, medium baked potato, ½ cup of peas, 1 cup of 1% milk and 1 cup of unsweetened applesauce

Do the math and think about whether you want fast food nightmares or home cooked dream meals (caloriecount.about.com).

Easy home cooked meals can increase social community

Fact: "Teens who regularly have meals with their families are less likely to get into fights, think about suicide, smoke, drink, and use drugs," according to Child Trends' original analysis of data from the National Survey of Children's Health (childtrendsdatabank.org).

Involving the entire family in selecting recipes, food shopping and preparation as well as sitting down together for dinner looks like a tradition worth starting.

Where change begins

Start small and cook one more meals at home each week, and work up to preparing healthy home cooked meals on a regular basis. Drag out your old crock pot. Don't just watch cooking shows on TV, take a cooking class. When Chicago-based Kendall College offered a Groupon deal for its recreational cooking classes; buyers bought 2,993 cooking classes in less than a day (northwestern.edu).

The American Institute for Cancer Research offers a series of free brochures with helpful information about preparing easy home cooked meals that are nutritious and other topics related to health and cooking at home, including recipes and tips for getting started. Cook with your favorite foods or try a new ingredient each week, use all fresh food or rely on frozen vegetables, chicken or fish for convenience. It doesn't have to be difficult to cook healthy (preventcancer.aicr.org). And, if you think the cost of eating at home seems higher than eating out, consider how you calculate "cost" in terms of health.

"Calorie Counter," About, Inc., http://caloriecount.about.com/
"Cook more often at home," USDA, http://www.choosemyplate.gov/weight-management-calories/weight-management/better-choices/cook-home.html
"Educational Brochures," American Institute for Cancer Research, http://preventcancer.aicr.org/site/PageServer?pagename=aicr_publications_brochures
"Family Meals," Child Trends, http://www.childtrendsdatabank.org/?q=node/197
"Frequent cooking will help you live longer," Cambridge University Press, Jo Rennie, May 15, 2012, http://blog.journals.cambridge.org/2012/05/frequent-cooking-will-help-you-live-longer/
"Global cancer rates could increase by 50% to 15 million by 2020," WHO, April 3, 2003, http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2003/pr27/en/
"Home Cooking Increases Longevity, Cambridge Study Shows," Huffington Post, May 18, 2012, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/18/cooking-longevity_n_1518466.html
"How Eating at Home Can Save Your Life," Huffington Post, Dr. Mark Hyman, January 9, 2011, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-mark-hyman/family-dinner-how_b_806114.html
"Michael Pollan: Home Cooking Will Solve America's Obesity Epidemic," Yahoo Finance, Aaron Task, April 25, 2012, http://finance.yahoo.com/blogs/daily-ticker/michael-pollan-home-cooking-solve-america-obesity-epidemic-174714334.html
"Rise in home cooking, once recession-driven, now the hip thing to do," Northwestern University, Emily Co, March 18, 2010, http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=162396

About the Author

Kay Easton graduated from the State University of New York with a BA in English Literature. As a freelance and technical writer with more than 20 years experience, she writes articles for the Internet on a variety of topics.
Culinary Art Schools
Refine School Matches
Hide filters
  • SUBJECT Clear All

    See More


    See More



    Please enter valid US or Canada Zip.
            Results open in new window

            Searching Searching ...

            Matching School Ads
            Professional Culinary Arts
            • Hands-on culinary education with focused attention on each student
            • An ACCSC School of Excellence with multiple “Best Vocational Cooking School” awards*
            • 15,000 graduates, including celebrities like Bobby Flay, David Chang, and Christina Tosi*
            • Programs in Culinary Entrepreneurship, Professional Culinary Arts, Professional Pastry Arts, and much more
            • Campuses in New York and Silicon Valley with nearby housing available
            Show more [+]
            Culinary Arts (AS)
            • Alumni have appeared in reality competition shows such as Top Chef and Project Runway.
            • Has a team of about 4,000 faculty members focused on helping students tap opportunities in a marketplace driven by ideas.
            • Offers programs in design, media arts, fashion, and culinary.
            • Provides program coordinators who work with students to ensure they have the learning materials, assignments, facilities, and faculty to get the most out of the program.
            • Over 50 campus locations nationwide.
            Show more [+]
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            B.S. in Hospitality Management
            • There's still time to apply to Grand Canyon University and pursue your education. Learn more today!
            • Study on your schedule - GCU offers many programs 100% online to fit your busy lifestyle.
            • GCU offers a variety of opportunities to reduce the cost of furthering your education. Campus students may qualify for scholarships, while online students can take part in limited special offers.
            • A regionally accredited university, GCU also holds specialized accreditations and approvals for some of our core program offerings.
            • Degrees in business, education, nursing, humanities and social sciences, theology and more. Find the degree that fits you.
            • Talk to us today to learn more about financial aid and start dates!
            • Accredited
            • Online Courses
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Accelerated Programs
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            Master of Science in Hospitality and Tourism Management

            Founded in 1869 as a land-grant school, the University is known today for its prolific faculty as well as a record of distinguished research and achievement in aerospace, engineering, technology, science, and math.

            • Online Courses
            Search Schools Near You
            Subject :
            Degree :
            Zip Code :

            Culinary Schools
            Culinary Articles
            10 Colleges with Delicious Dining Hall Food
            Forget boring college cafeteria dining. Campus food can be exciting, healthy and delicious. Here's a look at 10 of America's best colleges to get your grub on.
            Four International Cuisines Influencing the American Foodscape
            Ethnic cuisines are an integral part of America's culinary landscape, and none more so than these perennial favorites.
            5 Ethnic Cuisines for Serious Foodies
            Love food? Want to broaden your culinary horizons? These five international cuisines provide an excellent starting place.
            Healthy home cooked meals can improve health, longevity and family social community
            Read how cooking at home rather than eating out can help you live longer, reduce the risk of cancer and improve family dynamics. Not only has cooking at home become the hip choice, it's also become the smart choice.