Infographic: The Health and Social Benefits of Home-Cooked Meals

Here are some reasons why everyone should prioritize time in the kitchen—and some tips on how you can build a home cooking habit that sticks.

Updated on August 21, 2017 11:08 am

Laura Newcomer

benefits of home cooked meals

When we eat with other people at home, we often sit in front of the television or have to rush to the next task on the calendar. In the process, we miss out on an activity that can make everyone healthier, happier, and more connected.

Here are some reasons why everyone should prioritize time in the kitchen—and some tips on how you can build a home cooking habit that sticks.

Why home cooking?

There are so many reasons to cook at home, it’s surprising that we aren’t all doing it at least some of the time.

For starters, research shows that regularly eating home-cooked meals as a family is linked to healthier and happier kids, and teens who are less likely to use alcohol, drugs, or cigarettes.

Adults also reap considerable benefits from eating home-cooked meals. Research finds that people who eat home-cooked meals on a regular basis tend to be happier and healthier and consume less sugar and processed foods, which can result in higher energy levels and better mental health. Eating home-cooked meals five or more days a week is even associated with a longer life.

Those mental health benefits increase considerably when we eat home-cooked meals with other people. In fact, communal meals can make us feel happier even outside of meal times. That’s partly because social connections reinforced over meals can help us cultivate a sense of belonging and even reduce symptoms of depression. Sharing the joy of home cooking also preserves cultural knowledge and history as we pass recipes from generation to generation.

As if all that weren’t enough, home-cooked meals can also benefit the environment—and all of us, by extension—by saving money and reducing our carbon footprint. Home cooking gives us the opportunity to choose component ingredients over processed meals, which cuts down on packaging. Buy those ingredients from local farmers or grow your own, and you’ll make an even bigger impact on the environment by significantly reducing the amount of transportation required to get food to your plate.

What’s wrong with this picture?

Given all the benefits of home cooking, why aren’t we all cooking for ourselves?

The most common excuse is that there’s not enough time. In fact, people who work more than 35 hours outside the home each week do tend to cook less. (Although in reality, many of us spend more time watching TV than we do cooking for ourselves.

Other reasons for avoiding the kitchen include long commutes, the widespread availability of food options outside of the home, and the notion that convenience should always be our ultimate priority.

How to make time to cook at home

Big Batch Foods to Freeze and Serve Later

Whether you’ve never cooked a meal in your life or you want to get back to the kitchen after a busyschedule drew you away, give a few of these tips a try, and commit to a few small lifestyle changes. You’ll be on your way to living a healthier, happier life. Bon appétit!

Article originally published in Edited and reposted with permission

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