Resist the Urge: Going out vs. Staying In

cooking at homeIt’s a decision that we all face each day, whether it be for lunch or for dinner, should I go out to eat or should I pack a lunch or stay in for dinner? It seems like more and more people these days are opting for the former rather than the latter, which is great for people in the restaurant industry like me, but it’s so saddening when I see men and women with full families who don’t know how to prepare a meal that wasn’t frozen first or where the instructions aren’t “put in microwave for ten minutes.”

I remember when I was a kid coming home from school in the afternoon and my mother was already well into preparing for that night’s dinner. My mom was an absolutely amazing cook and she was part of the inspiration for me when I started cooking. But above everything else she was a baker. Her pies and pastries are so delicious I can eat them all day long!

But so many people today are clueless on how to make a home cooked meal (I can’t imagine Thanksgiving at some of these people’s houses.). But that is the point of this post, to resist the urge of going out to eat and stay in, cook something special, and enjoy the satisfaction of a home cooked meal. I know that it is a little bit more work to cook a meal yourself, and there is a little bit more planning involved, but it is well worth it and I will tell you why!

Number 1, it’s way cheaper! Going out to eat is extremely expensive! Unless you’re getting dollar menu items at Mcdonald’s, you usually can’t eat a full fast food meal for under 7 or 8 dollars. Now, if you’re going to a real restaurant add another 20-30 percent on top of this—and also a tip. You can usually get a homemade meal going for around 2-4 dollars per person. That’s almost half the price! If you make a conscience decision to start eating at home more, you could easily be saving hundreds of dollars every single month in food costs.

Number 2, it’s much healthier. If you are cooking your own food, you can control all of the ingredients that go into it. Sure you can choose to eat at health restaurants, but they usually a little more pricey, fueling problem number 1. Also, many restaurants’ “healthy option/alternative” is the same across just about any place. You have a salad option, or a wrap option instead of bread. Well, that is boring. Eating the same overpriced salad every single day isn’t exactly exciting or something to look forward to. If you cook your own food, you can make sure that the ingredients are top notch and that they are healthy.

Number 3, it teaches you how to cook! Everyone complains that they can’t cook, but they never do anything about it. The only way to get better at something is to practice, so get in the kitchen and start testing out some new dishes! You don’t have to go from scratch, there are hundreds of recipe books you can get that will give you all the information you need, as does this blog! So what are you waiting for? It’s time to stop going out and start staying in.

Gourmet Salads and Eating Healthy

saladHow many times have you heard a colleague or coworker say that they want to lose a few pounds? They tell you that they haven’t been watching what they eat quite as well as they should have, so they are going to start eating salads more often. Out with the cheeseburgers and fries and in with the healthy salads and other alternatives. Well, I at least have heard this countless times from numerous people throughout the years and I still hear it all the time. It is everyone’s first go-to move when they want to go on a diet before the summer and beach season rolls around.

This is a great start to shedding off a few pounds, the only problem is people almost always do it wrong, so the positive effects are completely lost. But before I get into the negatives, let me outline a few positives in the mindset of people who say this.

The first positive is that it acknowledges that diet matters. A lot of people who go to the gym or think of themselves as heavy weight lifters don’t realize that dieting is a huge part of getting fit and toned—in fact it’s most of it. If you are trying to get a great beach body this year, your first step should be a diet because what you eat (or what you don’t eat) will have some serious impact on your figure. That’s right, no more midnight pizzas if you want to keep that weight off.

Now the problem with a lot of people with the “time to go on a diet” mentality is that the salads that they use to supplement the cheeseburgers and fries generally aren’t that much healthier. Sure they don’t have quite as much fat in them, but they aren’t a drastic cut in calories by any stretch of the imagination.

First of all, most people don’t realize that the dressing they are putting on their salads is just loaded with calories. And not only calories, there is usually huge amounts of sugar in the dressing too. If you are serious about going on a diet, you should drastically cut back on the amounts of dressing that you use on your salads.

Another problem is that salads today are not what the salads of yesterday once were. Salads today seems to be getting bigger and bigger with more and more toppings—many of which are very unhealthy. Putting grilled chicken and bacon on your salad is not helping you in your goal to cut back on calories. Also, salads themselves are getting bigger. If you cut of the cheeseburgers but eat a salad twice as big as you otherwise would with more dressing, you’re probably no better off than when you started.

The moral of the story is that even with something that seems as health as a salad, there can be some pretty big unhealthy parts of it. If you don’t watch your portion size or what you are putting on top of it, it could be just as unhealthy for you as what you are trying to avoid eating in the first place.