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Homemade for health and wealth

Published: Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013 8:46 a.m. CST

I was speaking with a friend this week who told me that she asked her kids, “What is the one dish you could not do without for Thanksgiving?”

After hearing each of their answers, she then assigned them the responsibility for preparing that dish for the big meal this year. That made me think about how important it is to be able to cook for yourself.  

Many people do not cook these days, beyond heating up a frozen dinner or a can of soup.

With the abundance of fast food and convenience foods available, you might ask “why bother” starting from scratch with fresh ingredients? Here are just a few reasons to do so.

Your health

Many processed, pre-packaged, and convenience foods contain ingredients that can be harmful to your health.

One example is trans fats, which are in the news. Other examples include artificial dyes and preservatives. Also prevalent are added sugar and salt that can be present under many different names.

What’s missing from most packaged, frozen, and fast food meals? The vegetables, fruits, and whole grains that help to protect us from disease.

By preparing more of your meals from fresh whole ingredients, you can reduce your consumption of questionable substances and increase your consumption of foods that actually promote good health.

Your wallet

Most convenience foods are not budget friendly, and even going through the drive-thru can get pricey. With some planning, you can save money by preparing meals at home.

Meals don’t have to be elaborate or contain a lot of expensive ingredients.

You can grill or broil a piece of meat, microwave some frozen vegetables, and add a side of sliced bread to have dinner on the table in less than 15 minutes. Serve some whole fruit for dessert.

Simple meals like this also allow you to purchase whatever is in season and probably on sale.

To save time during the week, you can do some bulk cooking on the weekends and refrigerate or freeze extra portions to be heated up throughout the week.

Crockpot meals can be assembled the night before and stored in the insert overnight in the refrigerator. In the morning, pop it into the unit and plug it in.

Your family

Working together in the kitchen is an excellent opportunity to spend quality time with your family and teach your children a skill that they can use for the rest of their life. 

Assign age-appropriate tasks to each child, and they can learn as they grow. If you are unsure of your own cooking skills, make it a game to learn together. The results don’t have to be perfect. 

You may not wish to be the person who prepares the big Thanksgiving meal, but cooking your own meals could be something you will be thankful for for years to come.

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