Eating out is not only expensive, but also has a long-term impact on our heath. It takes away our power of deciding what we put into our bodies (besides the “I’d like to order your Veggie Lasagna”), the quality of ingredients, and the quantity. Yet, it’s a habit that’s so hard to break for many of us. If you’re at a point where you’re eating out more than you’re eating in and you’re ready to change that, this one is for you.
I struggled with eating out for years — it was just so much easier to pick up a meal after a long stressful day at work. It was so much more convenient to have someone else make the food for me rather than go stock up on groceries, find a recipe and cook it, and hope for the best that it turns out delicious. However, I would always feel so bloated and lethargic afterward (which would lead me to spend my evening on the couch and Netflix).
Before I get started, I want you to know that I absolutely believe in cherishing life’s special moments, celebrating birthdays, meals with friends, and just visiting the new restaurant in town. I still enjoy meals out and ordering food in, but most of my meals are homemade. So if you’re looking to eat at home more often this year, I’ve outlined a few tips below that really helped me out and got me back in the kitchen.
1. Make Cooking Enjoyable
Instead of looking at cooking as a big task I need to do, I look at it as a time to unwind. It really helps to crank up the music (even if it’s just your headphones), throw on a cute apron (I love the ones they sell at Anthropologie!), pour a glass of …kombucha or your beverage of choice, and start chopping away. Soon the dreaded feelings associated with cooking are replaced with joy.
It also helps to learn how to hold a knife properly (I say this because I didn’t know how to use a chef’s knife for the longest time) and use it without fear of getting hurt — that was a game changer for me. There are tons of YouTube videos that teach you how to properly use your tools. It also helps to lay out your ingredients and chop/slice/dice things up before turning on the stove. Instead of rushing to chop the carrots as the onions are caramelizing, having your ingredients on hands makes cooking smoother. It only takes a few extra minutes to prep everything, but you’ll discover it saves time overall.
When you turn cooking into a form of relaxation (regardless of how much you need to get done that night), you end up doing it more often.
2. Keep It Simple
There’s nothing worse than spending lots of time and money finding and purchasing ingredients that you won’t be able to easily use for future dishes. Most of these ingredients end up going to waste later. It’s so important to keep it simple, especially when you’re starting out! Cook with ingredients that are versatile — great examples include spinach, sweet potatoes, zucchini, garlic, chickpeas, gluten-free pasta. These are ingedients that can easily be mixed and matched into different recipes and meals throughout the week.
It also helps tremendously to stick to simple recipes. Recipes that only require less than 10 basic ingredients, and recipes that won’t leave you spending hours in the kitchen at night. When I was starting out, it was so important for me to feel like I could follow a recipe and that it actually tasted great when I was done. That’s what encourages most of us to keep coming back into the kitchen. Making a complicated dish that turns out subpar will only leave you feeling exhausted and reaching for takeout again.
3. Use a Meal Kit Delivery Service
Many times, the hardest part is choosing what to make and actually getting the ingredients. That’s when meal kit delivery services come into play. You select what you want to cook, they deliver the ingredients, and all your job is to cook! There are many services out there (and I’ve tried most of them!), but my favorite is Sun Basket. I’ve been using their service for awhile now and absolutely love their service and products. All of their ingredients are fresh and organic. You select your meals for the week (order one week in advance), you receive a refrigerated box with ingredients for each meal along with recipe cards. I find this kind of service especially valuable for busy professionals. If you’d like to give Sun Basket a try, you’ll receive 3 free meals with your first delivery!
4. Clean as You Cook
This is SO important, I can’t even stress how important this one is. When you’re anything like me and your kitchen looks like a tornado hit it after you’re done, it’s so important to develop the habit of cleaning as you’re cooking. Use a bowl? Give a quick rinse and stick it in the dishwasher. Use a pot? Wash it immediately so it doesn’t dry up and take 5x longer to clean later. The tidier your kitchen is while you’re cooking, the more enjoyable your dinner will taste. And most importantly, you won’t be stuck washing dishes after you’ve enjoyed your dinner because they’ll already be done.
5. Keep Track of How Much You’re Saving
You’ll be amazed to see that eating at home isn’t any more expensive than eating out. In fact, many times (depending on your past eating habits), it usually costs a lot less. The best part is that you’re making the final decision on what you’re putting into your body and you choose the quality of ingredients. Many people have told me that eating healthy is way too expensive. I’ll be writing a separate blog post on that soon!
I’d love to hear your tips and tricks on eating more at home this year! What are you planning to do differently and what’s worked for you so far?