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By Nicole Rawls

Cooking at home vs. eating out

Cooking at home vs. eating out

Eating in a restaurant can be an enjoyable and celebratory event. Eating out can provide an occasional break from cooking at home. However, most Americans now eat out routinely. Restaurant meals make up half of all food expenditures. Dining out often means convenient and less healthy foods such as burgers, fries, and pizza. But lately more people are eating at home rather than eating out. Cooking and eating at home has many benefits.

Eating in is convenient.

Many Americans find it hard to make time to cook at home. This is due to hectic work schedules and other obligations. Eating out might seem more convenient than eating in. You are likely to eat out every few days if convenience is your main goal. And when looking for convenience, you are more likely to buy unhealthy fast food. You can make home cooking more convenient by preparing main dishes such as roasts and stews on the weekend to eat throughout the week. You can also use a slow cooker to prepare your dinner while you are away at work.

Eating in is more nutritional.

Most restaurant food is not as nutritional as food eaten at home. In fact, most food chains serve unhealthy meals. Meals in restaurants are loaded with salt, sugar, and unhealthy fats. At least half of the meals from fast food restaurants exceed the recommended 1,200-1,800 calories a day. Many meals have 1,500 calories or more. Restaurants often serve portions bigger than needed. Consuming excess calories not only results in weight gain, but these foods can contribute to diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension.

You control the ingredients.

The main advantage of eating in is that you get to decide the ingredients and the portion sizes of what you cook. This can lead to a healthy lifestyle. You know what is in your dishes. You know how much salt is in your dishes. You know how much fat is in your dishes. At home it's easier to eat
in moderation and eat healthy portions. For example, you can serve four ounces of steak instead of a 12-ounce steak that restaurants serve. You can serve smaller portions of anything. You can create healthier versions of your favorite restaurant dishes.

Other things to consider.

Bringing your lunch to work is a healthy and convenient option. It saves money and calories. Choose a restaurant with healthy food options when you do eat out. For example, pick a place that serves lots of salads or low-calorie meals. You can ask the sever to put the salad dressing on the side to limit calories. Skip the bread or just eat a small piece of it. Do not overeat. Stop eating when you feel full, or take some of the food home. Avoid buffet style meals because it is easy to overeat. Share your dessert with someone else.

Bottom line

Eating in can be just as convenient as dining out. Cooking at home has some benefits too. You can choose healthy meals, an option you won't have at some restaurants. You can control the portions. When you cook and eat at home, you save money and cut calories.

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