The virtues of cooking

by Kellie Dye

Every now and then I feel the need to discuss the virtues of cooking. I often notice when driving around town how most restaurant parking lots and drive-thrus are filled with customers.

It makes me wonder if anyone cooks anymore. 

I remember a time when eating out was special and not the norm. Now it seems that it’s normal to eat out and a special occasion to cook and eat at home.

I wish that eating out could be special and rare again like it used to be. Back in the day, obesity rates were very much lower than what they are today. The incidence of hypertension, diabetes and heart disease was also much lower. Not to say that restaurants are totally to blame, but they can contribute to our poor health and expanding waistlines if we don’t use caution.

Many restaurants have made improvements in the calorie and fat content of some of their offerings. Most restaurant food however is still laden with sodium — more sodium than if you had prepared that item at home. Most restaurant meals often contain more than 2000 mg of sodium in one meal.

So if you will read on, I would like to make an attempt to increase your motivation to prepare more meals at home.

The benefits of cooking at home:

You will definitely save money. Even if you eat on the cheap every weekday at say, $8 per lunch, you are spending $160 per month. Bringing dinner leftovers for lunch saves quite a bit of money. You could also pack a lunch for a lot less than $8.

Cooking can be a time-saver. For the time it takes to drive and eat out or even go to a drive-thru, you could prepare a fast, healthy meal at home. Lots of cooks do it everyday. The more you cook, the easier it gets.

As mentioned previously, cooking at home will most likely be healthier than eating out, especially when it comes to sodium.

Studies actually show that families who eat together at home have lower cholesterols and lower blood pressure, and the children actually have better grades. How’s that for another great reason?

Speaking of studies, it is very well documented that the more one eats out, the more they will weigh. Cooking at home is always better for weight control.

Another factor in weight control is calorie burning. Cooking dinner burns 89 percent more calories than eating in a restaurant.

Cooking can be creative and pleasurable. The more you do it, the better you will get at cooking a fast healthy meal. Millions of busy cooks do it everyday.

Involving the family in the process of cooking saves time and work. Teaching kids to cook is vital. If we don’t teach our kids how to cook, they will most likely eat out as adults.

Let’s not keep the eating out trend going. Save eating out for special occasions, and you will appreciate it more, savor your food more, and you might actually realize that you could have made that dish even better at home.


Kellie Dye, a registered and licensed dietitian, is the wellness coordinator at the Conway Regional Health and Fitness Center. Send your diet and nutrition questions to Kellie at [email protected]. Frequently asked and pertinent questions will be addressed in future articles in 501 LIFE.