Everybody knows that eating in is a healthier and more affordable choice, but we don't always make good on that plan, do we? Five o'clock rolls around and we've just picked up the kids from soccer or dance or preschool, and we still have to read for that continuing education class and...and...and...the list piles up.
Cooking a homemade meal begins to sound hard and time-consuming. We could be using that time to get "things" done or play with our kids. And before we know it, we are grabbing a burger at In'n'Out or slurping on pho at the little place down the street. Meanwhile, the food in our refrigerator is wilting, wishing we'd just come home and steam it. After all, it doesn't want to become a member of the "40% of groceries purchased goes in the garbage" club.
But it's more than just waste. Not cooking at home has major consequences on our society's health (and yours!). Here are the problems with eating out, and solutions to help us all become healthier.
Problems with Eating Out and Solutions to Be Healthier/(Smarter?)
1. Calorie Overload
The Problem: According to a study in the Journal of the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 92% of restaurant meals at chain and local eateries (364 were examined) exceeded the recommended calorie requirement for a single meal. And even worse, 34% of those meals exceeded the caloric requirement for an ENTIRE DAY.
The Solution: Portion control is a must. Make it your goal to have half of the plate filled with vegetables, a quarter of the plate with protein and the last part with a grain (or not). If you do not eat grains, then use that last quarter of your plate to add in a healthy fat (oil, seeds...).
2. Busting Your Budget
The Problem: Let's presume for a moment that you are single. and you eat out once per day, with choices ranging from fast food joints to sit down eateries. Because of the price range here, let's say everyday you spend $10 per meal. That adds up to $300 per month, or $3600 per year. And if you are 1 of the 4 folks who eats at a fast food restaurant daily, then you are actually paying them to be unhealthy. That's a lot of money out the door and an investment your not likely to enjoy as you get older.
The Solution: Again, presuming your single, if you were to eat only at home, you would save that $300 extra dollars per month. Instead, you could spend the average $250 per month for one person to eat at home (according to the USDA). And if you are sticking to fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins, your bill will be much cheaper. Heck, we have a single parent on board who only spends $70 every two weeks. And in her cart you won't find top ramen or mac'n'cheese...just the stuff needed to make good-for-you smoothies, stir fries and soups.