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  • Wellness Workdays

Benefits of Getting Back to the Kitchen

home cooking, cooking together, family meals, homemade meals

With more people staying home, what better opportunity to get back into the kitchen and try new recipes? While restaurants are beginning to open, many people are wary of heading back to their favorite place. Now is a great time to try to recreate your favorite restaurant meals at home! Maybe there’s a meal you've been craving or a recipe you’ve been wanting to try but haven't had the time. Maybe you don’t cook, and you want to learn how to make some simple meals. While some recipes may seem intimidating or complicated, all it takes is a few attempts to perfect a meal. Getting comfortable making simple 30-minute meals is a great way to encourage cooking during the week instead of stopping by your favorite fast-food restaurant. So whether you are looking to cook for your family or to impress your friends, here are some benefits of getting into the kitchen.

Healthier options. Fast food and restaurant meals are delicious but often loaded with salt, sugar and saturated fat. Even meals that appear healthy on the menu are served in much larger portions than what you would make at home. Getting back into the kitchen provides a great opportunity to include nutrient-dense options like whole grains, fruits and vegetables into your meals. While you might lean more toward the crispy, salty fried chicken at a restaurant, you’re probably more likely to bake your chicken at home – it’s just easier. Even if you do decide to fry your chicken, you can pair it with healthy sides like a salad or some roasted vegetables, while at a restaurant your options may be limited to buttery mashed potatoes and coleslaw. Cooking gives you control over how you prepare your meals to help meet your health goals.

Enhances creativity. Cooking can be like making art. Whether you’re making a blackberry pie with a lattice top or arranging your colorful meal on a plate with an herb garnish for presentation, you’re channeling your creative side. Broaden your mind and have fun playing with the colors and textures on the plate. If you're feeling really creative, you can even photograph your meals and show them off to your family and friends.

Psychological benefits. Using mindfulness in the kitchen is a great practice that can help promote a calm, quiet mind. Whether you’re peeling, slicing or arranging your produce, take the time you’ve been given to work with your food and enjoy it, while the stresses of the day melt away. Look at the deep colors of your produce, listen to the sounds of chopping, inhale the fragrant earthy or sweet aromas while feeling the texture beneath your fingers, and finally, savor the food you’ve prepared. Cooking allows you to focus only on the tasks at hand, which keeps you present in the moment and less likely to stress about other things happening in your life. It can be a great way to take a mental break!

Quality time with family. Cooking is a great opportunity to spend quality time with your children and teach them useful skills and information. Teaching children how to cook encourages independence and pays off when you may not have as much time to cook because they can prepare simple meals themselves. Spending time in the kitchen with your children can be especially helpful for those with picky eaters. Kids are much more likely to eat something that they made or helped make than something that’s placed in front of them. Cooking with friends or a spouse encourages conversation since it forces everyone to put their phones away to focus on the task at hand.

If you're someone who can’t stay home and doesn’t have extra time to cook, you still have choices. Grocery stores and businesses have more options for getting fresh foods to your home that are nutrient-dense and easy to make. Examples to check out are Home Chef, Blue Apron or Hello Fresh. If you're avoiding going to the grocery store, check out home delivery options like Instacart or Peapod. These services allow you to shop virtually and the food is left at your doorstep. We hope you're feeling motivated to reap the benefits of cooking. Bon appetit!

Learn more about healthy meals and other wellness programs offered by Wellness Workdays.

Written by Kyla Sullivan, Wellness Workdays Dietetic Intern.




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