There is nothing like a home-cooked meal. We’ve all heard it, and in theory, we know it’s true—but it can be incredibly stressful to have to cook after a long day. Many people choose to order takeout or stop by the nearest drive-thru on their way home from work in order to avoid the kitchen. At the end of the day, these same people are left feeling lethargic and cranky and they have no clue as to why.

What many people don’t realize is that preparing healthy, home-cooked meals can actually be a lot less stressful than ordering takeout. It is healthier, it is financially smarter, and it can even be therapeutic! Yes, that’s right…cooking has therapeutic qualities. While there is nothing wrong with treating yourself and eating out once in a while, fast-food should NEVER be an option, and restaurants should be just that—a treat.

Health Benefits of Preparing Food at Home

Cooking at home grants you full control over, and knowledge of, all ingredients in your dishes. Fast food chains serve processed foods that are high in MSG, sugars, and refined carbohydrates. MSG can cause headaches, nausea, weakness, and a whole slew of other nasty side-effects, while foods high in sugars and refined carbohydrates cause a rise in blood sugar levels followed by a drop—this is the culprit when feeling sluggish and slow after a meal. Restaurants and fast-food chains also tend to use a lot of refined oils which are inflammatory by nature, exacerbating diseases like arthritis and heart disease, and at the root of many health problems like acne, infections, and other aches and pains.

Nothing feels better than ridding yourself of nasty chemicals, poisons, and antibiotics (found in processed meat)! YOU choose what goes into your body. Pure, organic foods that are free from MSG, sugars, and refined carbohydrates will leave you feeling energetic and satisfied, ready to take on each day. The lethargy and crankiness which caused you so much stress and anxiety will be lifted; your mind will be clear and sharp and your problem-solving abilities will improve. Eating healthily is the best start to realizing your full potential.

Financial Benefits of Preparing Food at Home

Financial burden is a universal phenomenon that every adult carries to a certain degree. These worries are the fuel of anxiety and stress in many people’s homes, encouraging an unhealthy cycle of buying “cheap” food but finishing out the month with a large credit card balance. Many people mistakenly think that ordering a cheap meal from a fast-food chain or restaurant will alleviate financial stress. What they don’t realize is that with the right preparation and mindset, grocery shopping is a LOT more financially smart in the long run. Cheaper, (MUCH) healthier meals can be prepared at home. When properly budgeted, monthly grocery tabs come out to a lot less than monthly tabs of those who eat out regularly. Taking into account nutritional intake and serving size, eating at home is way more cost-effective.

Eating financially smarter will no doubt help you avoid that cringe (or those palpitations) when looking over your monthly expenses. Stress and anxiety levels will no doubt decrease when you are budgeting properly and spending wisely.

Therapeutic Benefits of Preparing Food at Home

Home-made meals are therapeutic not only because the finished product brings family and friends together; the process itself is a major contributor to a relaxed lifestyle. The slicing, dicing, sizzling, kneading—it’s all very calming, relaxing, releasing… Cooking is a form of meditation. It awakens all five senses: we can see the rainbow of color in the salad, hear the onions sizzling, taste the savory broccoli quiche, smell the fresh bread baking, and feel the creamy texture of chocolate mousse.

Increasingly popular cooking workshops and culinary therapies are a testament to the therapeutic power of kitchen time. These are some of the direct benefits that cooking can provide:

Encourages Creativity

Cooking serves as a creative outlet and can unleash all sorts of skills you never even knew you had. Be inspired by ingredients you have around—creating new recipes will make you feel accomplished and proud. The kitchen is a place where “the more you learn the more you realize how little you know.” Once you start cooking and exposing yourself to different recipes, a whole world of new spices, vegetables, cooking methods, and tastes will reveal itself.

Instills Healthy Habits

When you eat healthily, you crave healthy foods. When you consume foods high in trans-fat, sugar, and refined carbohydrates, that is what you will crave. Bake a wicked salmon with a side of sweet potato ‘fries’? You’ll dream of that perfectly flaky salmon at the office tomorrow instead of the meal-in-a-paper-box that usually has you swooning. This will inspire you to go home and create a new healthy recipe that you can dream about the next day. When you gain control of your diet, you gain control of your body and mind, keeping them sharp and energized with healthy, balanced meals masterpieces.

Strengthens Bonds

For your next date-night, instead of going out, try staying in. Buy two handsome pieces of steak, a few potatoes, and some asparagus. Using the internet as your guide, you can create something just as delicious (or even more!) as you would buy in a fancy restaurant for a fraction of the price. Put on some John Mayer, pop open a bottle of wine, light some candles, and you, my friend, have got yourself a VERY romantic night. The experience of creating something together will no doubt bring you closer. Cooking together can also be light and fun. Involve the kids, making it a family activity. And when the food is ready, rumbling stomachs will guide each family member to the table to discuss the day’s activities over a wholesome meal.

Wine and Beauty

Once we realize how much good preparing meals at home can do for us, we can shift our mindset from ‘chore’ to ‘hobby.’ Food is versatile and variable; it nourishes, sustains, and bonds. It is the glue that connects those within each culture—an art-form that spans centuries and generations. And yes, it is even relaxing.