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The benefits of Home Cooking

Olivia Swan, Accredited Practising Dietitian

With all of us living such busy fast-paced lives, prioritising a home-cooked meal can be tricky. Today we explore the benefits of home cooking, as well as some practical tips to fit home cooking into your busy lifestyle.

Increased enjoyment of food

When we cook meals at home, we have control over what we eat and what goes into the dish. This means you choose the foods you enjoy eating and can modify dishes to your taste preferences and health goals. Following the process of selecting a meal, finding a recipe, sourcing produce and then cooking the meal increases our connection to, and enjoyment of the food. Research shows that the smells of home cooking can increase our appetite and when we are hungry for food, we enjoy it more (1).

Eating seasonally and locally more easily

Choosing ingredients that are in season not only increases the quality of the produce (and therefore the tasty factor) but also helps ensure the best price. Check out local greengrocers, fruit & vegetable box delivery services and farmers' markets to reduce food miles and support local vendors. These options usually allow for some haggling of the price or bulk deals too so it’s a win-win!

Balancing the budget

Cooking at home can be expensive without good planning but it doesn’t need to be. A Forbes comparison of the cost of restaurant, meal kits and home cooking found that eating out was more than 4 times the cost of a home-cooked meal (2). Shopping locally, in bulk and when on sale helps bring down the cost further.

Increased opportunity for mindful eating

Mindful eating has many benefits including increased enjoyment of food, eating appropriate portions for our appetite, improved digestion and connection to the food (3, 4).

When we eat out or on the go, our attention is not usually focused wholly on the meal. A large part of eating mindfully is to minimise distractions at mealtimes. When eating a meal together with loved ones, we should aim to reduce screen time and stress as this helps draw our focus to the meal. Other aspects of mindful eating include:

  • Checking in with our emotional state and hunger level before eating (are we hungry or eating out of boredom or in response to an emotion?)
  • Taking our time to chew our food (this helps not only slow us down and give our bodies time to check in with hunger levels but improves digestion and reduce the risk of reflux)
  • Assessing our hunger and satiety levels throughout the meal and stop when satisfied, even if there is still food on the plate (we are often encouraged and conditioned to consume everything on the plate, overriding our natural satiety cues).
  • Considering every aspect of the food (think: texture, shape, flavour, the temperature of each element)
  • Reflecting on the process of the food coming to our plate (think about the journey from paddock to plate and here we can see the benefit of home cooking to enhance the connection with that journey).

Health benefits

Restaurant meals and takeaway, while delicious, are often full of extra salt, sugars and saturated fats that are linked with ill health outcomes. These meals can certainly be enjoyed in moderation (some foods are better for our souls, some better for our bodies!) but should be considered a sometimes food rather than an everyday food. To make a healthy meal at home, opt for healthier (unsaturated) fats such as oily fish, nuts and seeds, avocado, tahini and olive oil. Think of healthier cooking methods such as roasting (with EVOO) or steaming rather than deep frying and try to include a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and dairy across your meals. For a balanced meal pair complex carbs, lean protein, healthy fats and fibre together.

For practical tips to fit home cooking into your busy lifestyle, check out our blog here

Sources

  1. Zoon HF, de Graaf C, Boesveldt S. Food Odours Direct Specific Appetite. Foods. 2016 Feb 22;5(1):12. doi: 10.3390/foods5010012. PMID: 28231107; PMCID: PMC5224573.
  2. Here's How Much Money You Save By Cooking At Home. Priceonomics Former Contributor, Jul 10, 2018, sourced from: https://www.forbes.com/sites/priceonomics/2018/07/10/heres-how-much-money-do-you-save-by-cooking-at-home/?sh=7cdc550d35e5
  3. Nelson JB. Mindful Eating: The Art of Presence While You Eat. Diabetes Spectr. 2017 Aug;30(3):171-174. doi: 10.2337/ds17-0015. PMID: 28848310; PMCID: PMC5556586
  4. Natasha S. Hepworth (2010) A Mindful Eating Group as an Adjunct to Individual Treatment for Eating Disorders: A Pilot Study, Eating Disorders, 19:1, 6-16, DOI: 10.1080/10640266.2011.533601.

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Goldi acknowledges the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation, the traditional custodians of the land upon which we live and work. Our groves in Victoria in the Shepparton region sit on the land of the Yorta Yorta people, and in the Limestone Coast in South Australia, we operate on the land of the Ngarrindjeri and Booandik people. Goldi is committed to supporting these communities for our business operating on these lands.