These days, with the click of a button, you can choose a recipe and order the fresh ingredients needed to make a healthy dinner — and they’ll be delivered straight to your doorstep. You can have everything from perfectly ripe avocado to hearty ground turkey (and in some cases a recipe card telling you how to turn those ingredients into a delicious turkey chili, for example) delivered to your home, making it easy to cook from scratch any night of the week. With a number of ingredient delivery companies, like Plated and Blue Apron, making cooking easier than ever, consumers could enjoy big health benefits.
According to a recent study by Public Health Nutrition, people who cook dinner for themselves consume fewer calories overall, and they’re eating healthier by making meals with fewer carbohydrates and sugars. The study surveyed more than 9,000 people and found that those who made their own dinners consumed about 100 fewer calories a day than those who regularly ate at restaurants.But even though we know that cooking at home can be healthier, many of us have a hard time cramming a fresh-made meal into our already hectic lifestyles. Now, services are offering customers a healthier diet plan by doing the work of planning, shopping, measuring, and delivering ingredients. That’s helping more and more people overcome the hassle and time it takes to cook at home.
As a nutritionist, I think there are many ways to keep cooking simple, even when the traditional grocery store experience is involved. While ingredient delivery could be one way to make Americans cook more at home, there are many other options for people who are short on time.
One of my own kitchen secrets for keeping cooking simple is to use a slow cooker. Simply chop up fresh vegetables and herbs and prepare legumes, proteins, or grains in the morning (or the night before), and a fresh, healthy meal will be waiting for you when you get home. Slow cookers give home cooks a simple, time-friendly way to pack vital nutrients into a delicious meal — a meal that can easily be portioned out and saved or served to the whole family.
Cooking lets us choose the ingredients in our baskets so there are no trans fat, sugar, or sodium surprises. Whether you are able to take advantage of new services that cater to busy home cooks or whether you rely on old tricks like cooking in a slow-cooker, look for ways to make time to cook and reap the health benefits of preparing your own meals.
Lisa Gorman, RN, is the director of the St. Joseph Health Wellness Corner in Irvine. Lisa has worked in wellness and prevention for more than ten years, and is currently a registered nurse with 25 years of health care experience.