For most of us, cooking at home can be a chore. (All that prep work after a long day of work? Takeout, please.) But cooking doesn’t have to be stressful or labor-intensive. Cooking is one of the easiest ways to begin a diet plan and live a healthier lifestyle (it can also be quite rewarding). Like all steps taken on a weight loss journey, in the beginning you should aim to start small. Challenge yourself to cook one meal more per week than you currently do. After you’ve become comfortable with that, add another. Keep it interesting by rotating that extra meal between breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Apart from saving money (and we could all use a little more money), cooking at home has numerous benefits, most importantly allowing you complete control over ingredients and portion sizes. According to Rachel Brandeis of the American Dietetic Association, quoted in USA Today, people consume 50% less calories, fat and sodium when cooking at home than when eating out. Food producers and restaurant chefs use high-fat and high-salt ingredients in their recipes to make food taste better (great for flavor, not so great for our waistlines). But by cooking in your own kitchen, you can reduce unhealthy ingredients without sacrificing flavor.
If you’re lacking the motivation to make your own meals, enlist a friend. Cooking can be a great bonding experience. Next time a friend invites you out for dinner, invite them to stay in instead. Try one of these healthy dinner recipes that can all be whipped up in 20 minutes. Bonus points if you have leftovers to take to work for a nutritious lunch. And remember, your time cooking should be fun — not resemble an episode of Hell’s Kitchen. In order to reduce stress, plan your meal ahead of time. Get your shopping done when you are least busy. That way all you have to do the night of is prepare. Not every recipe will turn out perfect, but that’s all part of the experience. Good luck!