Cooking at home vs eating out, in general, can be overwhelming for many let alone cooking something healthy.
Part of the problem is we make things too complicated. We take 20 minutes (or more) to scroll through Pinterest until we find the perfect (often times fancy) dinner. 45 minutes to go to the grocery store and then who knows how long, maybe an hour, to actually prepare and cook the meal.
That is exhausting and who wants to do that every night? Nobody! That is not a sustainable way to cook more often at home.
Especially if we are just starting out you want to keep eating at home easy and healthier than eating out.Cooking at home doesn't have to be complicatedClick To Tweet
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Cooking at home vs. eating out – how to make it easier & simple
Buy healthy convenience foods
Buy pre-cut fruits and veg, canned beans, tuna and salmon pouches, precooked rice. The meat section of most grocery stores have freshly prepared foods like kebobs, stuffed chops, fajitas (with the meat & veg already cut), etc. Check out this list of Healthy Kitchen Essentials for some great healthy convenience foods.
Meal plan & prep
Knowing what you are going to eat for the week helps you be more prepared. You will cook more often at home if you have a plan and the right ingredients on hand.
Convenience foods (even healthy ones) will always be more expensive than whole foods that you have to cut, cook and chop on your own.
If you are on a budget and don’t want to spend the extra money pick one day a week and do meal prep. Cut your own veg, pre-cook your own rice & beans, pre-put together meals like kebobs and fajitas, etc. Read more about how to meal plan and prep.
Focus on one dish meals
One dish meals are super easy and will help you eat at home more! One pot dishes are just that. They have all of the components you need for a healthy meal in one pot. They have a veg, protein & complex carb. Like stir-fry, soup/stew, egg bakes, quinoa bowls, etc. Simple, quick and yummy.
Recipes for one-pot dishes
Crockpot or Instant pot meals
I love both my crockpot and my pressure cooker! Actually, my Instant Pot can also double as a slow cooker. These are both very nice ways to use cheap, tough cuts of meat, saving money also.
Some of the newer slow cookers and electronic pressure cookers even have the ability to program a start and stop time. So you don’t have to be home to control it!
Crockpot and Instant Pot recipes
Cook once eat twice
I always cook more meat than I need. That way I have plenty for dinner tonight and I have enough for a new dish that I can make later in the week. This is great for busier weeknights, it cuts half the cook and prep time making eating at home easier, yet again.
You could also cook two exact same meals (this works great for casseroles), one for tonight and one for the freezer to have another day. You can do the same thing with grains. Cook a big batch for the week or cook some and freeze some. This saves a lot of time if you are making longer cook grains like brown rice.
These are some great recipes to use leftovers for:
Go buffet style
This is a great way to 1. pack lunches for the week and 2. please the masses. Either way, you set everything out for a salad bar, taco bar, baked potato bar, etc. Everyone takes their plates and puts together their own meals based on what is out and available on the table.
- Great buffet style dish – Rice and Beans Haystack
Learn something new
Do you have a staple that you eat every week that is either prepackaged or you go out for? Try to learn how to make that one meal. Right there you have saved yourself eating out or eating processed food one night a week.
You can also start with a convenience food that you can add ingredients to, like jarred pasta sauce. Tweak it, add things to it to make it better. It won’t take too long before you are making the sauce on your own, without the original jarred sauce.
- This is some inspiration for you on how I make a sneaky sauce, that I’ve doctored up.
How to start cooking at home
Notice that this is how to start cooking at home more often or healthier. When you start something you are not expected to know exactly what to do or how to do it. You shouldn’t expect to be perfect at it as soon as you start.
Please go as slow as you need to. If you are eating out or eating prepackaged meals 90% of the time I want you to manage your expectations. I don’t want you to stress and think you now should be cooking at home 90% of the time. I think that is a little unrealistic and I don’t want you to set yourself up for failure.
Read this post on how to improve your health with small changes. Small changes do add up and they do make a difference.
I have no doubt that you can cook more often at home and that if you want to get to the point where you are mostly eating at home you will get there. But give yourself some grace and time to get there.
Cooking at home can be as simple or as complicated as you make it.
I do enjoy more complicated meals from time to time but most nights it is all about simple and healthy with as minimal effort as possible.
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