Eating at home can be more convenient, affordable and healthy than “grabbing something” on the way to or from work. Planning is the key and preparation is a must. Eating out has been linked to weight gain with many studies pointing to a higher body mass index or weight gain observed in those who eat away from home more often. The average American goes out to eat about five times per week with favorite cuisines including: Italian, Mexican, Chinese and Pizza which can be high in calories, fat and sodium. If you are trying to control your weight by eating out less, consider the following tips to success:
- On Sunday, brainstorm what you will make each night of the week. If you need ideas, grab a cookbook or print out some recipes online.
- Make a list that includes all ingredients you will need to prepare dinner each night based on the recipes you chose. Consider making extra servings each dinner that you can pack for lunch the next day.
- Grocery shop with your list to make sure you have everything you need for the week. Sunday afternoons can get very busy at the store; try going earlier in the day or after the dinner rush for a less chaotic experience.
- Do any necessary prep (chop veggies, cook grains) that evening to help speed dinners later in the week.
- Store all your ingredients properly and base your menu on what needs to be used first (i.e. a ripe avocado gets used on Monday, but the eggplant will hold until Thursday).
With just a little planning up front, you can remove hours of stress from your week as well as gain control over what you and your family eat. By setting aside just a few hours on one day of the week, you can save timer overall and achieve your goals of staying in for health and weight management. This is also a great way to incorporate more fresh, whole foods into your diet. For added social benefit, spend this time at home cooking or prepping together as a family.
References: Naska A, et al. Eating out, weight and weight gain. A cross-sectional and prospective analysis in the context of the EPIC-PANACEA study. Int J Obes. 2011 Mar;35(3):416-26.
United Press International (UPI). Americans Eat Out About Five Times a Week. http://www.upi.com/Health_News/2011/09/19/Americans-eat-out-about-5-times-a-week/UPI-54241316490172/. September 19, 2011.