An inexpensive way to balance your plate
Healthy eating doesn’t have to clean out your wallet - though many people associate healthy foods with hefty grocery bills. A study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine reaffirmed that meals prepared and enjoyed at home are associated with diets lower in calories, fat and sodium. It also found that those who consumed home cooked meals more frequently instead of dining out, not only had higher quality diets, but also enjoyed them at NO additional cost!
Researchers reviewed data for a total of 437 household shoppers between 21-55 years old. This included food frequency questionnaires and self-reported data like food attitudes and expenses. Diet quality was measured using Healthy Eating Index (HEI) scores, which measures compliance with the USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
It’s not a surprise that married respondents, unemployed respondents and those in larger households congregated for home cooked meals more frequently than unmarried or single-person household respondents and those without children. Interestingly, age, gender, race, education and income did not play a role in these findings.
The takeaway from this study is that cooking dinner is not only an effective way to comply with dietary recommendations, but also a way to have better health outcomes, and it may be more affordable than you think! If you find yourself dining out more frequently, here are a few steps you can take to increase the amount of meals you prepare at home while keeping more of that green in your wallet:
- Explore your cabinets. You don’t need a ton of equipment or recipes in your repertoire to get started, but you will need a few basic staples like a frying pan, sheet pan, sauce pot and baking dish.
- Find a few one pot recipes. Try chili, vegetable lasagna or stir fry and make them frequently.
- Write it down. Take time to make a shopping list or if you’re starved for time, try home shopping from your local grocer. They do all the work for you and you don’t fall victim to impulse buys!
- Batch meals turn into homemade frozen dinners! Save time by preparing extra food and storing leftovers in individual containers for a quick weeknight meal.
- Simplicity is key. Food that tastes good and is good for you doesn’t have to be fancy.
Try some of these Dole favorites this week: Mushroom, Spinach & Kale Gnocchi, Spinach-Eggplant Enchiladas, Great Caesar’s Pumpkin “Pie”.
Published October 1, 2017