Why don't we cook more often? Many of us are just too busy and too tired to face the kitchen after a long day of work. Others don't cook because they would rather eat out. Eating out is fun, quick, and easy. No shopping, no planning and no pots and pans to scrub! We all get caught up with the business of life and eating healthy or even eating at all often gets boiled down to convenience and strategy but the convenience, speed, and fun of eating out comes at a price, not just a monetary price, but a price on health.  In the U.S., the birthplace of fast food, Americans eat fewer than 70 percent of their meals at home and less than a third of American families eat meals together more than twice a week, according to Emory University. This fact, together with the obesity epidemic, points toward a need for change in the way we think, cook and eat. Of all the things we can do for our health, preparing a home cooked meal offers much more than nutrition. It is time for us to stop watching cooking shows from our couches and return to the kitchen, create meals together and get back to spending time with our families around the dining room table.  As for cooking its self, here are a few simple tips to help you get started with healthy eating and preparing food the way our grandmothers did:

Healthy Cooking Tip #1: Stock your kitchen.

Healthy cooking starts with filling your cupboards. Spend your time shopping for good ingredients and get rid of the junk and processed foods that tempt you. Keep the basics on hand, and you'll be able to whip up delicious meals in less than the time it takes for pizza to be delivered.

 

Healthy Cooking Tip #2: Plan ahead.

Simplify dinnertime prep by making as much as possible ahead of time. Make double or triple the amount the recipe calls for, and freeze the extra for future use.

 

Healthy Cooking Tip 3: Go Slow.

Slow cookers can become a reluctant chef’s best friend. There are countless tasty slow cooker recipes that require just 10 to 30 minutes of prep time, and many of these are one-pot meals—just add a side salad and dinner is done.

 

Healthy Cooking Tip 4: Fold in flavor.

Garlic and onion add flavor depth to any dish, and you can up the ante even more with fresh spices like basil, oregano and cilantro. A sprinkle of chopped cilantro over black bean soup, for example, adds punch to the entire dish.

Healthy Cooking Tip #5: Include the family.

Cooking meals together and involving your children in food preparation is the best way to teach them healthy eating habits. Home cooked meals often build the best memories and some evolve into family traditions.

In the end, some individuals who start cooking will find they truly enjoy it, but even those who don’t will typically feel good about preparing and eating more wholesome foods. Fortunately, whether people grow into amateur chefs, or stick with easy to prepare fare, the health benefits from their cooking efforts are equally amazing.