dcsimg

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 bring about 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

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 suggests three tips for eating healthy (choosemyplate.gov):

  1. Focus on foods you need: Vegetables and fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy products and lean protein foods are more nutritious and generally lower in calories than other options.
  2. Eat fewer empty calories: Empty calories are those from solid fats and/or added sugars: i.e. 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 instead 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

"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 meal at home each week.
  • 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 brochures with helpful information about preparing easy home cooked meals that are nutritious, as well as other topics related to health and cooking at home.
  • 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.

Sources:

  1. "Calorie Counter," About, Inc., http://caloriecount.about.com/
  2. "Cook more often at home," USDA, http://www.choosemyplate.gov/weight-management-calories/weight-management/better-choices/cook-home.html
  3. "Educational Brochures," American Institute for Cancer Research, http://preventcancer.aicr.org/site/PageServer?pagename=aicr_publications_brochures
  4. "Family Meals," Child Trends, http://www.childtrendsdatabank.org/?q=node/197
  5. "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/
  6. "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/
  7. "Home Cooking Increases Longevity, Cambridge Study Shows," Huffington Post, May 18, 2012, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/18/cooking-longevity_n_1518466.html
  8. "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
  9. "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
  10. "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

  • DEGREE

    See More

  • PROGRAM TYPE

  • START TIME

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

            Showing schools in your area

            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
            • Received the 2015 and 2013 “Cooking School of the Year” Award of Excellence from the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP).
            • Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
            • Externship opportunities are available at numerous famous New York City restaurants.
            • Campus is located near downtown Manhattan, within walking distance of many popular attractions such as the Radio City Music Hall.
            Show more [+]
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            Culinary Arts and Food Services
            Good for Working Adults
            • Has been training students in the culinary arts since 1946.
            • Teaches hands-on culinary training in French, Asian, Mediterranean, Latin and American cooking, along with professional baking and pastry techniques.
            • Helps students gain professional skills in culinary management.
            • Offers an Italian Culinary Arts program where students get to externship in Italy.
            • Its instructors are respected chefs who put their dedication and life experiences into their instruction.
            Show more [+]
            • Accredited
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            Culinary Arts
            Get the experience you need to succeed in the exciting and fast growing culinary field at Keiser University - Center for Culinary Arts. We offer the flexibility of day or evening classes, experienced faculty, and small class sizes for plenty of personalized attention. Internship opportunities and financial aid are available for students who qualify.
            Culinary Arts
            • Dorsey Schools has been a trusted career training school in Michigan for over 80 years!
            • We offer training programs designed to prepare our students for careers in fields such as healthcare, beauty, culinary, and skilled trades.
            • Many of the programs we offer can be completed in a year or less, allowing students to complete their training in a relatively short period of time.
            • We have convenient campus locations that are prepared to assist the people of Michigan develop skills needed for exciting new career opportunities.
            • We provide our students with a program-specific curriculum which is dedicated to assist them in learning the skills needed for that specific career. Learning at Dorsey Schools often takes place in both lecture and lab settings, allowing students the ability to practice the skills they are learning. Many of our programs also include an externship prior to graduation, which is designed to model the work environment students may experience upon graduation.
            Show more [+]
            • Accredited
            • Financial Aid
            Culinary Arts (D)
            • 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 [+]
            • Financial Aid
            Associate of Science in Culinary Arts

            Sullivan University is Kentucky's largest private college or university, offering higher education for people with higher goals. At Sullivan University, we focus on in-demand programs that lead to successful careers. Whether you're a high school student considering college for the first time, an adult returning to school or someone seeking professional development, you'll be surprised at the variety and range of alternatives Sullivan University offers. 

            • Accredited
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            Search Schools Near You
            Subject :
            Degree :
            Zip Code :
            Culinary Articles
            10 Colleges with Delicious Dining Hall Food
            Forget boring college cafeteria dining: campus food can be both healthy and delicious. Here's a look at 10 colleges where you might actually enjoy getting 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 might be 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.