Let me tell you something deeply personal about myself. I love to eat out. Literally, I love eating at restaurants. If you ask any of my friends who know me well — does she eat out a lot? They will all say yes. So much so that when Covid19 struck, my family saved a bundle of money because we suddenly stopped.eating.out.all.the.time. I honestly think it can be an addiction.
Here’s the thing though — my husband and I love to cook and try new recipes too. I started making a list of reasons to cook more at home for this post, and then I thought “Shoot, with so many great reasons to cook more at home, I need to talk about some solid ways to make cooking at home easier. ” So I’m going to share all my secrets!
Treat yourself by actually cooking at home. You will not be sorry when you make cooking at home a habit.
You control the ingredients when you cook more at home. (And you know all the ingredients too.) The sheer amount of salt in restaurant food is ridiculous. Four grams of salt is a teaspoon! Growing up, I learned to cook in my most formative kitchen years without salt, because my Grandma lived with us and had high blood pressure. We left the salt out or salted very little and then added salt at the table. As an adult, I do realize that salting as I cook makes the food better, but at most I add four teaspoons of salt to our entire meal. And that would be a salt heavy meal with lots of sides. Two teaspoons would be more typical. Divided by eight people, and not accounting for leftovers, that means none of us gets more than half a teaspoon of salt per meal. You can also cook with less oil, healthy oils, lower fat content in your meat, and less “shine spray” added to make your food look glossy and fresh at the table. (Yep, that’s a thing. I don’t know what its called, but I’ve watched them spray my food with it. Gross.) You will teach your kids good habits when you cook more at home, especially if you are mastering the art of cooking and eating healthier foods as a family.
When you cook more at home, you control the menu. Learning to cook and trying new recipes is fun! If you haven’t ever really cooked you should watch the movie, Julie and Julia. It’s a fantastic story of two women, both learning to cook well, but in completely different time periods. Meanwhile, do you want a cheeseburger with calamari on the side? Make it. Would you like extra fries with that? Dish yourself up a nice big plate. Want to make that fancy risotto you had last weekend at the restaurant? You can do it! Cooking at home means that you get to create the menu, you get to decide what is on the menu and you get to then enjoy the deliciousness of eating that wonderful dinner that you made.
You control the portions when you serve food at home. Now, you can control the portions at restaurants too, by just putting half of everything on your plate into a to-go box. But its a lot harder to discipline yourself in public, and can result in a great deal of wasted food if you forget to bring the to-go container into the house.
When you cook more at home, you will save so much money. Eating out at restaurants is expensive! Why spend $20 per person for dinner when you can take that $20 and head the grocery store and buy several meals worth of food? Save that splurge and tip yourself by buying your favorite dessert, or a nice bottle of wine, at the grocery store. Stretch that food budget as far as you can, instead of spending it all in one place, for one plate of food. The truth is, the food you spend that money on by eating out might not even taste that good! The horror! Nothing is more frustrating than spending $20 on a steak only to have it overcooked or undercooked.
When you cook more at home, you can capitalize on that time in the kitchen to bond with your kids. Togetherness is so important for kids! This doesn’t have to happen at every meal (no judgment here!) but having kids help in the kitchen teaches them important life skills, creates memories and gives them a sense of pride in a job well done when the family eats what they have helped make. Several of our kids really love to be in the kitchen with mom or dad and thrive on that personal attention as they learn to cook. Not one of my kids will be the one leaving the plastic on the microwave popcorn so that the entire college dorm has to evacuate for a fire alarm at three a.m. Cooking is a life skill.
You never have to feel rushed when you cook for yourself. At least not for the eating part. How many times have you been at a restaurant and felt like you were being eyed once your plate was finished? The waiter “patiently” waiting for you to leave so they can clear your table for the next customer? It’s a feeling that is quite common, and true. At most restaurants, you are a number…a dollar to the business. But by cooking at home, you can eat when you want, and enjoy it at the pace that you want. Want to start with a salad, then take a break and watch Wheel of Fortune? Awesome. Feel like having a 3 hour-long 5-course meal at home? Take your time. You set the boundaries for when you want to eat when you cook more at home instead of eating out.
When you and your family cook the food you eat, the kitchen is always open. Ah, words that make every teen boy smile. Nothing is more frustrating than deciding to go out to eat, arriving, and being told that the kitchen is closing in 15 minutes. The kitchen is closing? What does that even mean? It means that the options for appetizers, followed by dinner aren’t looking like it is happening anytime in your near future. BUT…when you cook at home, your kitchen is open 24/7. Pancakes at 2 AM? No problem. Your kitchen is ready to be fired up, no matter what the time! I have four boys. Right now two of my boys are teens. They are hungry ALL.THE.TIME. My fourteen-year-old tells me he never feels full. He is always hungry and always in the kitchen. and skinny as can be. I love helping him find food and watching him grow like a weed.
Family mealtimes can be more personal at home. As I said, I love eating out. But, I have also always prioritized a family mealtime every single night as often as we can. Some conversations just will never be had at a restaurant. Some family jokes and laughter will be too much in a public place. Eating at home gives you privacy for deeper prayer, more laughter, and thought-provoking political and religious discussions you might never be willing to have in public.
Give cooking at home a try! With a little planning and practice and using my tips to make cooking at home easier, you will love the freedom you have when you cook more at home and eat out less.
Read Next: Five Ways to Make Cooking at Home Easier!