Treat Yo'self... To A Home Cooked Meal In!

Treat Yo'self... its the motto of my 2018 and home cookin' is the staple of every date night, every family night out and every grand occasion from here on out… Enjoying your time together over a delicious meal is taken for granted as most families find themselves relying on takeout, fast food and restaurants. However, when the New Year rolls around it’s traditionally a time for belt tightening in both the literal and metaphorical senses. Gym resolution-ers please stand up!  It’s time to ditch the unhealthy (and likely heavily processed) fast foods and get back to cooking delicious homemade meals either on your own or with others.

If that last sentence provoked an eye roll (don’t think I didn’t see it), don’t worry. Healthy, home cooked food need neither be dull, bland or uninspiring. Hello?! If you have ever even opened the Pinteest app, nothing is uninspiring anymore. With the right recipes and a fresh perspective, you’ll find a home cooked meal every bit as satisfying as the kind you’d pay top dollar for in your favorite restaurants and with a whole lot less of the guilt... seriously, a whole lot less.

Homemade is fun!

Many of us tend to assume that cooking for ourselves or others is needlessly time consuming and laborious, involves tedious searching for hard to find ingredients and leaves a looming stack of dirty dishes. And all for an experience that’s a little too underwhelming in the taste department. Although most are not wrong about that, this could be the reason why Americans are so worryingly reliant on eating out.

Honestly, nothing could be further from the truth! Cooking and eating at home are a great way to spend quality time together as a family while contributing towards your health, weight loss or money saving goals for the new year. Thats the logical reason but have you evr cooked without pants on? It's liberating. That' the real winner there.

Make the time

The 21st century is a demanding time for most of us. Many of us are working longer hours than ever and under tougher conditions. It’s little surprise that many of us come home stressed, exhausted and hardly in a mood to do anything at all. Understandable, but don't let it impede on your health and happiness!  it should not be allowed to impede your health and happiness. So what can you do to make cooking at home easier and less time consuming so that you can have the time to relax in comfort.

  • Prepare, cook and freeze in batches. (AKA, meal prep)

  • Make a meal plan for the week (and stick to it) (AKA, meal prep)

  • Buy prepared foods (such as ready chopped onions and garlic), you’d be amazed how much time it saves you. (AKA pre meal prep)

  • Invest in consumer electronics that will help you. A slow cooker, for example, makes a pot roast or a casserole so easy that it’s like someone else has cooked for you. You plug it in, go to work, and then feast upon home arrival.

Allows you to wing it

Cooking and dining together can be every bit as much of a treat as taking the family to their favorite restaurant. Not only is cooking together a fun bonding exercise but it allows you to get creative. Everyone can each take a part and figure out their portion of the recipe. If it doesn't work out quite like the recipe get creative and make something up. "What doesn't kill you, will only make you stronger."- Kanye. Next thing you know you're a pro on Master Chef because your sprinkled lemon pepper on the caramelized onions. Cooking together arms all involved with a vocabulary of ingredients, cooking techniques and recipes that can be used over and over again.

It’s up to you to make cooking fun and as much of an event as stepping out for dinner or perusing the take out menu. Choose recipes with your guests. Pro Tip: Giving others ownership of the occasion will make it fun rather than being treated as another chore to be overcome.

Better for your health

Home cooking is undoubtedly the healthier way to go. The trouble with eating out is that you just don’t know what’s going into the food you eat. Healthy food begins with the right ingredients and many restaurants are less than forthcoming about what goes into their food. Even outlets like McDonalds, whose marketing tries to offer a degree of reassurance about the quality of their ingredients, contains some scary ingredients that will make you think twice before sticking your fingers into a box of McNuggets.

Since most of us start the new year on a health kick, cooking at home gives you unmatched control over not only your calorie intake but your micro and macro nutrients, too. I'm not going to pretend I know ht those are specifically but whether you’re looking to cut back on carbs, forbid fats, say no to sugar, or
embrace veganuary you’ll find it a whole lot easier when you’re cooking for yourself.

For best results you should cook everything from scratch. It may be tempting to do 80% of the cooking yourself but then rely on ready-made sauces that may contain unexpectedly high levels of salt, sugar and saturated fats. There’s nothing that you can buy in a packet or bottle that you can’t make yourself with a minimum of effort. From DIY taco seasonings to easy homemade salad dressings, it’s healthier and cheaper to do it yourself. Plus, since you’ll be using far less packaging, it’s better for the environment, too!

Better for your wallet

Eating is a big part of life and we should eat little and often to keep ourselves healthy and keep unhealthy cravings at bay. This is especially hard if you're one of those "live to eat" folks. *cough cough* me.  This doesn’t mean we should spend a fortune. Take buying your lunch for example. A cheap lunch out might cost $10. Over the space of a working year that comes out at around $2,500 a year. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the average US household spends $3,008 a year on dining out. I dunno about you, but I am in no situation where I can just throw away $3,000 because I didn't meal prep my lunch.

So many recipes!

There are so many recipes out there to tempt your tastebuds that it’s virtually unnecessary to resort to eating out for a delicious meal. If, however, you really get a hankering for a big mac or some KFC there are web sites specifically devoted to helping you recreate healthier approximations of your junk food faves at home at a fraction of the cost. "Alexa, make me a big mac!" "I'm sorry I'm a speaker but I can give you a healthy alternative recipe..." Sassy.

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