The most common excuse for not cooking at home is a lack of time, and you live in NYC. You’ve worked a long day, dealt with an unexpectedly tricky commute, and there are incredible restaurants everywhere - so why put in the effort? But before you grab your keys or open up Seamless, take a moment to consider the many benefits of cooking at home.
Related: Heart Health Month: 4 Tips for a Healthier Heart
Improve your health
Eating out seems like the ultimate convenience, especially with the abundance of restaurants here in New York City. But restaurant meals could be taking a toll on your health. The average single American restaurant meal, one 2013 study concluded, weighed in at an average 1,494 calories. With appetizingly large portions, the added starters, sides, and the ubiquitous bread basket, it’s easy to eat more than you need. Most healthy adults are recommended a diet of about 1600-2400 calories a day, for women, or 2000-3000 calories, for men.
Cooking at home not only helps you to watch your portions but to consider the quality of ingredients going into your meal. Adding chopped fruits and vegetables to sauces or loading them up as sides is a great way to increase your vitamin and fiber intake. Cooking also gives you the opportunity to target and treat your health by cutting down on the use of salt and sugar. Many chronic health conditions, like kidney disease and diabetes, can be vastly improved with a diet of thoughtfully prepared foods.
Watch below: National Kidney Foundation, Cauliflower Potatoes - Sodium girl
Ease the strain on your wallet
We all know that eating at home is cheaper than going out, but what might be news to you is how much that gap between your restaurant bill and the price of your home-cooked meal is increasing. Just buying your lunch each day now costs an average of $2,000 more per year than bringing a packed meal from home. Think budget-priced fast food is the answer? That guilty pleasure might only cost a few dollars, but you’re sacrificing quality and even food safety in the name of economy.
That’s not to say that eating out can’t be an enjoyable culinary and social experience. And through cooking at home and keeping the money that would have gone into fast food fare and convenience lunches, eating out can become an occasion. Save up for and savor a special night out at a quality restaurant by shifting your everyday cooking to your kitchen.
Watch below: The Youth Channel, Fast Food
Come together as a family
Getting together for a meal is a part of nearly every culture around the world, and that simple tradition brings a host of social, educational, and health benefits to the table. Studies have found a correlation between regular family dinners and high achievement in school, sports, and the arts, as well as higher test scores for teens. The family meal is a valuable opportunity to check in on their children’s learning and creative growth. Kids who eat at supervised family dinners are also more likely to eat fresh fruits and vegetables more and maintain the healthy eating habits modeled by their parents.
And speaking of modeling, the dinner table is the perfect place to pass on family traditions and teach your children about your heritage and culture. Consider teaching your children to cook traditional recipes and to enjoy the foods that make your family unique.
Watch video: The Korea Society, Steamed Buns
Help the environment
Our love of prepared, convenience foods is taking a heavy toll on our environment. We hardly spare a thought for the plastic wrappings and containers that keep our food fresh and easy to pluck from store shelves or carry out from a restaurant. But meanwhile, these materials are piling up in landfills and oceans, polluting water and endangering wildlife. Home cooking means choosing your own whole food meal components and having control over where your foods have come from and how they are packaged. Shopping at the farmer’s market or your local grocery’s bulk bins with cloth bags and glass containers is one step you can take to cut down on disposable packaging. Packing lunch in a reusable Tupperware and lunchbox is another way to avoid creating trash around your meals.
As much as 40% of all the food produced in the US is being thrown away. Our expectation for meals on-demand means that grocery stores and restaurants prepare massive amounts of food each week, only a fraction of which are consumed. Being more intentional with your food purchases will help to prevent food from ending up in a landfill, where it produces harmful greenhouse gases, or from wasting valuable water resources to process and break down those unwanted foods.
Watch below: NYXT Originals, Food Waste
Develop a Healthy, Meaningful Relationship with Food
Eating processed foods and fast foods don’t just drain your wallet and your vitamin intake, it distances you from your food. Even that high-priced, wholesome dish from the new organic place around the block removes you from the real foods that went into your meal. As designer and artist Emilie Baltz described at her Creative Mornings event, cooking connects you to your food. As you touch each spice and ingredient, you connect the components of your meals to how they will power your body; you are crafting a sensory and social experience around the meal. Home cooking is arguably the best way to develop conscious eating habits and a healthy relationship with food.
Watch below: Creative Mornings, Emilie Baltz
For more on your health, eating mindfully, and tips for cooking at home, be sure to check out our NYXT Content Partners:
• The Korea Society promotes awareness, understanding, and cooperation between the United States and Korea.
• The Youth Channel offers Manhattan residents ages 16 to 24 the opportunity to produce social justice focused media on important youth issues
• NYXT Originals shines a spotlight on the people, places, and stories that make Manhattan special.
• Creative Mornings offer short, free talks to the creative community one Friday each month over breakfast.
• National Kidney Foundation is the USA's leading organization dedicated to the awareness, prevention, and treatment of kidney disease.
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