When more of the meals are prepared at home, adults meet more of the dietary guidelines for good health and disease prevention without an increase in their food costs. The home cooked meals resulted in diets that were lower in calories, sugar and fat content.

Meals prepped at home are a health benefit

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On a very busy and tiring day it can be so easy to order out or meet your family members somewhere for dinner. In fact, half of our food dollars are spent outside the home. But University of Washington School of Public Health researchers, who are part of the Seattle Obesity Study, have found that preparing meals at home results in a healthier overall diet. Certainly a healthier diet means different things to different people but in this case they were looking at the right combination of fruits, vegetables, grains, protein and other foods that meet the dietary guidelines.

This study included over 400 adults. It looked closely at what they ate and where they ate. From that information the nutrition researchers could evaluate the quality of their diet.

The results? When more of the meals were prepared at home, the nutritional benefits were BIG. The adults met more of the dietary guidelines for good health and disease prevention without an increase in their food costs. The home cooked meals resulted in diets that were lower in calories, sugar and fat content.  

There is a preconceived notion that healthier foods and meals are more costly, but this is one of many studies to refute that unsubstantiated claim. The other fallacy is that people with less education eat out more and more frequently at fast food- that also has been refuted in other studies. Across all age groups, and educational and income levels, people eat out at a variety of establishments.

To have more meals prepped at home, especially if you feel strapped for time, make the effort to think ahead about your weekly menus. Do some preparation for the next day when you do dinner clean-up. You are already in the kitchen and may have a few extra minutes to cut up the veggies for tomorrow’s stir-fry, get food into the crockpot to cook the next day or bake off a batch of muffins. When you do cook, be sure to double the recipes so that you can count on leftovers to provide a second meal or to be the base of another meal. For example, pork tenderloin one night can be turned into shredded pork BBQ on whole grain bun for a different meal.

Recipes to try:

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About the Author

Rita Smith is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She's been working in the field of nutrition and disease prevention for more than 35 years and currently works at Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital in Charlottesville, Va. Each week, Rita provides nutrition counseling to clients who have a variety of disorders or diseases including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, gastroparesis and weight management. For these clients, food choices can help them manage their health problems.