We’ve become a society that wants food NOW.
We don’t even have to talk to another human being to get a meal delivered to our front door. We can simply open an app on our phones!
These, along with an infinite number of other take-out and delivery options, make having a meal in your home super simple, easy, and convenient. But where are the days of a delicious and nutritious home-cooked meal?
What are we missing out on by not cooking meals ourselves?
You may have heard that cooking your meals at home can have a huge effect on your personal health and hotness. Like we always say at MFF, “Abs are made in the kitchen, not the in the gym.”
Cooking at home can be far more nutritious and can help build and sustain healthy habits. You know what actually goes into each dish. You can control portion size. You can cut back on oils and fats as needed, and you’re likely to be eating more fruits, vegetables, and healthier foods. In short, you’re consuming fewer calories, fewer carbs, less sugar, and less fat than those who cook less, or don’t cook at all.
What’s often not known is that on top of all of the health benefits, there are many more perks to getting in touch with your inner Betty Crocker. By choosing to prepare your meals at home, you have an important opportunity to de-stress, slow down, save, appreciate, educate, create, relate, and connect; each one of these benefits can add more to your overall well being, sometimes even more so than physical health benefits.
‘Get In Bed’ With Your Food
“I can’t tell you how many times I have heard someone say, ‘I just don’t know how to cook,’” says health coach Beth Wittig Clayton, founder of Soul Body Life. “When I hear this, I realize they believe they can’t cook which leaves them reliant on processed food or take-out. It’s the story, not the skill, that is the problem.”
This fear and unwillingness to prepare food is preventing people from having a relationship with food outside of consuming it.
Steph Wilberding, our resident MFF show choir captain and personal health and wellness coach, adds, “Home cooking puts a person in a relationship with food, quite literally – physically preparing the meal, finding the recipe, buying the ingredients, chopping, roasting, plating. It can also take a person out of stress mode, which is key for obvious mental benefits.”
“Growing food, shopping for food, and preparing food are ways to engage in where our food comes from and nourishes in a way that is more than simply eating,” says Wendy Bazilian, registered dietitian and an American College of Sports Medicine-certified health and fitness specialist. “I think of nourishments as much broader that ‘nutrition’ – it’s the impact of food and eating on our social, cultural, personal well-being.”
As a society, we are always on the go and are generally operating under some form of stress – work, family, money, crowded trains, etc. Living in NYC or any big city, you can literally get food at the snap of finger, which is super convenient and can save time.
But Mr. Mark Fisher himself notes that cooking at home “forces people to slow down. For the most part I enjoy keeping a fast pace, but I’ve come to appreciate preparing food as a ‘speed bump,’ as it calms down my brain.”
Having ownership over your cooking and eating can wind up having a pretty profound effect on your life. Clayton says that “self-care is the first step to empowerment.” When you start eating in a high-energy way, it’s likely that your mood will elevate, you’ll feel better and when you feel better you are more likely to show up as the best version of yourself.
Cooking That Makes Cents
Whether you’re dining out at a restaurant, bringing home prepared foods, or logging into Seamless, you’re paying for someone else to do something you can do yourself. When prepared food is purchased, you are paying for the labor, the mark-up on the ingredients, and the cost of running somebody’s business, including rent and utilities.
Think about this: every time you order food on Seamless, part of the price they charge you is the cost of the internet access they need to receive the order in the first place. If you order food online, you’re paying for someone’s wifi. WTF?!?!
But Dustin Harder, The Vegan Roadie, notes that “people can plan within as strict of a budget as needed.”
If you were to go to the deli near your work for lunch, you’d likely spend at least $10-$12. If you do that 5 days a week, that’s $50 just on lunch.
According to Zagat, $48.56 is the average price per person for a dinner out in New York City, which is $8.03 higher than the national average. A typical New Yorker goes out to dinner on average 2.7 per week so, after spending a hot second with a calculator, that adds up to $131 per week and over $500 per month spent on dinners.
Think of all the delicious groceries you could buy with that money, along with that new pair of shoes or a vacation!
Food For Thought
Food is so much more than just something that tastes good and fills up your stomach. Sure, it can nourish, heal, and energize but it can also boost your creativity as you learn to combine nutritious foods and try new ingredients.
Once you add more variety into your meals, you’re likely to start using ingredients that you’ve never tried. And once you love something and hear that it’s good for you, you’re going to want to figure out why it is good for you – a natural education process winds up happening. BOOM!
Amanda Schoppe, Trainer, Holistic Health Coach and co-founder of Market.Kitchen.Table, suggests being curious and asking questions. “Shopping at a farmer’s market may seem intimidating at first, but the fun is in the learning and being more adventurous. I’ve asked about particular vegetables that I’ve never seen before and have gotten some really cool ideas that I would’ve never even considered.”
Wilberding adds, “Curiosity is key. With curiosity comes more awareness which leads to, more often that not, making mindful decisions versus mindless decisions.”
For those with busy schedules, the recent increase in meal delivery services, such as Blue Apron, Plated, and Hello Fresh, means that cooking at home without having to do the shopping is a lot easier.
Most of these services allow you to select frequency of meals and any dietary restrictions or preferences you may have. Each week a box shows up at your door containing all of the ingredients, pre-measured with step-by-step instructions (and photos) for three meals. The only ingredients they expect you to have are oil, salt and pepper.
Using these services is a great way to start your culinary exploration and you may even find some of these recipes become staples in your weekly meals.
The Social Food Network
Home cook Debbie Cunningham says, “Over the years, my preference [has become] to entertain at home. A casual weekend dinner is my favorite type of gathering where I often try new recipes or just get creative with making new dishes. We love having friends gather around our table to eat, talk, laugh, and catch up with our lives. Yes, we solve world problems, have the usual political discussion, and share our dreams too. But our table is a place where we eat the beautiful meals that have been prepared with love and made with the very best and freshest of ingredients. For me, it’s no longer [about] the food but the importance of the people who gather in our kitchen and around our table.”
Cooking at home can be awesome way to get others involved, to share in the cooking, to share the table, and a to have more leisurely experience, too.
Wilberding adds that “sharing the process, both cooking and eating, is a sure-fire way to relax and de-stress. With stress being the potential number one reason for weight gain in our generation, anything we can do to get out of that mode is a huge win.”
One study conducted by the University of Michigan found that time spent in cooking meals at home is likely to be associated with a more stable, organized family life and therefore with children having fewer behavior problems.
Harder has found that “for couples it can be a fantastic time set aside from the hectic day-to-day that also helps in building skills around delegating tasks as a team, which can be a huge benefit that is oftentimes overlooked as to how it contributes to the other categories of a relationship.”
So, dear reader, my challenge for you is this: Get in touch with your inner Julia Child, Jamie Oliver, or Giada De Laurentiis. Head out to your nearest newsstand and pick up a copy of Bon Appetit or Martha Stewart Living or Google around for a recipe. Make a grocery list. Take a trip to your nearest farmer’s market or grocery store and buy the best ingredients you can find. Invite over a few friends or family members. Laugh. Connect. And enjoy a healthy, home cooked meal made by YOU!