Preparing, cooking, and eating meals at home helps us be healthy, use fewer resources, and generate less waste. Be Green. Dine in.
During the years we kids lived at home, my mother made over 18,000 breakfasts and dinners, and many lunches. Dad pitched in by barbecuing and making omelets and he was the coleslaw guy. Meals were tasty and well balanced with fruits or vegetables at every meal. My favorite dinner was pot roast. We did have snack foods, sodas, and dessert items on hand. Eating out was a treat. My mother says the best part about cooking is sharing meals together as a family.
As a teenager, I helped out with dinner by following menu plans and recipes provided by my mother, and later planning meals and trying out new recipes. The liver and carrot dish did not go over well, but generally, I did okay.
While raising our own family, we cooked and ate at home, and we still do. My spouse likes cooking more than I do so I happily assumed the backup cook role. When the kids were living at home, we ate healthy meals but probably ate more junk food than we should have. On occasion, we ate at a fast food or sit down restaurant. Hopefully, our children learned enough healthy eating habits to carry them forward in their own cooking.
Health and Wellbeing
Ever heard the phrase, “you are what you eat”? It makes sense. We use what we eat and drink to build, repair, and operate our bodies.
When we prepare and cook meals at home we control the food quality. We know what went in it, what stayed out, and how it was prepared.
- Ingredients (fresh, seasonal, organic vs. canned, frozen, processed)
- Salt and fat content (olive oil vs. butter)
- Artificial additives (e.g. most home cooks don’t add MSG)
- Cooking method (baking vs. frying)
- Cleanliness of cooking area, pots and pans, utensils
Home cooks influence portion size by determining how much food is made and using reasonably sized tableware. The battle of the bulge is usually won or lost by eating plus or minus 100 calories a day on a consistent basis.
Dining in as a family nurtures our bodies and minds. We have an opportunity to step away from our electronic devices, slow down, share news, debate topics in a friendly manner, have some fun, and enjoy a home cooked meal. Extend family time by cooking and /or cleaning up together.
You Can’t Eat What Isn’t There
I admit I’m one of those people that fare better when calorie laden food-like substances aren’t in the house. If there are no potato chips or cookies at home, then hungry kids and adults might eat a banana or a handful of nuts. Try it.
Use Fewer Resources
Buying seasonal and local food reduces transportation energy and pollution. Another benefit of shopping local is supporting local farmers.
Cooking with whole food ingredients versus processed food products reduces the energy and water that would be used during processing and packaging.
Purchasing foods with minimal packaging is more resource efficient than buying in bags and boxes that one takes home and discards. Buying in bulk usually means less packaging.
Make Less Waste
Planning meals ahead reduces waste by minimizing spoiled food. I admire people who plan a week’s meals in advance and have great respect for those who prep or make items ahead.
Composting fruit and vegetable scraps reduces the amount of food waste that either goes into a water treatment system or landfill.
Eating leftovers reduces food waste and saves money. Little extra energy is needed to store and heat up leftovers with only a small incremental extra cost. Reusable containers reduce packaging waste.
The number one reason people say they don’t cook at home is the lack of time. If one has time for TV, video games, surfing the web, talking on the phone, texting, etc., one has time to cook. Another reason cited is hectic and conflicting schedules.
I remember reading in a book by Dr. Oz, that if people cannot find the time to exercise, they need to admit their life is so out of control they do not have time to take care of themselves. Preparing and eating meals at home is similar. It takes commitment and creative planning, but it can be done. The health and wellbeing of our families and Earth are worth it.