“When people cook most of their meals at home, they consume fewer carbohydrates, less sugar and less fat than those that cook less or not at all—even if they are not trying to lose weight.”
—Julia A. Wolfson, MMP, John Hopkins Center for a Livable Future
In Part One on this series covering the benefits of cooking at home and its impact on your health, we shared how preparing meals cooked in your own kitchen at least five times a week increases your odds of being alive in ten years by 47%. We pointed out how the act of cooking; the planning, shopping, prepping and socializing all have a positive impact on your longevity and prosperity.
Today I want to further the argument for developing your skills as a home chef. Let’s consider how home cooking can promote a positive impact not only on your health but your happiness as well.
First, let’s look at additional evidence on how whipping up a dinner prepared by your own hands assists with your general health. When you eat out you have no idea what has been used to prepare your meal. How much salt, granulated sugar or other additives were used as a way to boost the flavor profile of your restaurant meal? And, where were the ingredients sourced and how safe was the preparation process? When preparing meals in your own kitchen, all of these elements can be controlled.
While restaurants do a good job of minimizing contamination through well-trained kitchen staffs, mistakes can happen. With a little self-education, you will understand the techniques of safe food preparation such as using one cutting board for raw meats and another for all your other prep.
In addition, you can safely address specific dietary needs when cooking at home. For example, if a sauce calls for heavy cream and you have an intolerance to lactose or dairy in general, go ahead and substitute coconut cream. You could also substitute coconut milk and save a few calories in the process. If eating out, you’d have to skip the dish altogether.
The freshest fruits and vegetables are available at any farmers market on a Saturday morning, and many of these selections will be in season and organic. When you think organic, think pesticide free. Have you seen a recent increase in the “farm to table” restaurants in your area? This is why. It goes beyond just being trendy. The original source of your ingredients counts in how food tastes and its health benefits.
One way to get super fresh fruits and vegetables is to plant a garden. This can also boost your happiness by reducing stress. The stress relief comes from the process of preparing, planting, nurturing, harvesting and eventually dining on something you grew with your own hands. How rewarding is that?
One of the biggest advantages of eating in is the cost savings. It is so much less expensive to eat at home, particularly if you have your own garden. The savings can then be used to enhance other areas of your amazing, authentic retired life.
Finally, when eating at home you are not rushed. A waiter is not hanging over you, hurrying you along, so they can turn the table. The process of savoring your meal will improve your mood and your gut health. And, be sure to do it as a family or if single, invite friends. Ask them to bring a dish to share. It gives them an opportunity to show off their culinary skills. Dining together, whether with your special someone or a group of friends, is an excellent way to connect, bond and learn from one another and provides a routine that boosts the happiness meter.
If at dinnertime your first thought has been ‘where should we go?’ then don’t procrastinate on this one. Make next week your test week. Create your plan, set the menu, shop, chop, cook and enjoy!
“Live long and prosper.”
Enjoy your journey!
Gary A. Weuve, CFP®
Founder and CEO
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