January - Eating In: How to Cook More At Home

Preparing home cooked meal while cutting vegetables

January - Eating In: How to Cook More At Home

Quick Summary

  • Planning and preparing makes cooking at home much easier.
  • Take advantage of cooking tools such as slow cookers, air fryers, and ovens.
  • Reduce the work by cooking with family or housemates!

In 2020, 51.9% of total food expenditures in American households were spent on “food away from home,” even with the pandemic! This includes food from restaurants, fast-food places, cafeterias, and more. Eating out can be delicious and convenient, but you’d be missing out on many of the benefits of cooking and eating at home.

Home cooking with fresher ingredients and your own seasoning often produces more nutritious meals that are lower in added sugar, added sodium, saturated fat, and excess calories. Cooking with family and friends can is a wonderful opportunity for bonding, saving you money, and--with some practice and planning--saving time. If you’re environmentally conscious, great news! Home cooking can also help reduce food waste and energy usage.

Here are some strategies to help you get started:

  1. Plan Out Your Meals – If you often have trouble choosing what to cook and eat, plan a rough menu for each day of the week at the beginning of every week. This not only helps you build a complete shopping list and avoids extra trips to the supermarket, it also ends the daily headache of “What’s for dinner?”
  2. Prepare Your Ingredients or Meals Ahead of Time – If you often find yourself short on time, consider “meal prepping,” which means cooking pre-portioned meals for 3-7 days all at once. Check out these easy meal prep recipes. If you prefer not to have reheated meals, try washing, cutting, peeling, marinating, and/or portioning the ingredients you need for your meals ahead of time; this can help shorten cooking times on your busy days!
  3. Take Advantage of Slow Cookers, Air Fryers, and Ovens – If you’re a beginner cook or just like doing minimal cooking, take advantage of hands-off cooking methods with slow cookers, air fryers, and ovens. They will do the cooking for you and minimize the number of dishes you need to do. Check out these slow cooker recipes, air fryer recipes, and oven sheet pan recipes.
  4. Take Turns Cooking with Family Members or Housemates– If cooking every day is overwhelming for you, share the load. Assign family members or housemates days where it is their responsibility to cook certain meals. This is a great opportunity to explore each other’s favorite recipes and flavors.
  5. Try “Combination” Meals – If you need to slowly ease yourself off takeout, try implementing a combination meal where half of the food is ordered and the other half is prepared at home. For example, ordering your favorite pasta and then roasting an extra serving of veggies or making your own side salad at home.


USDA Food Prices and Spending

Is Cooking at Home Better for the Environment?

Seasonal Foods and Recipes

Crock-Pot Chicken Noodle Soup

The cold season is soup season! Enjoy this Crock-Pot Chicken Noodle Soup with minimal effort!

Sheet Pan Fish Tacos

Like street food? Try out these Sheet Pan Fish Tacos for an easy and delicious weeknight dinner!

Plant-Forward Nourish Bowl Meal Prep

Get lunch covered with this colorful, plant-forward Plant-Forward Nourish Bowl Meal Prep.

Make-Ahead Smoothie Packs

Make your own smoothies quickly anytime with these Make-Ahead Smoothie Packs.

Protein Snack Pack

Can't reheat your lunch? This Protein Snack Pack can be meal prepped ahead of time and is delicious cold!

Apple Cinnamon Overnight Oats

No time in the morning? No problem! Grab some Apple Cinnamon Overnight Oats on your way out the door!

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