Karen Ensle Ed.D., RDN, FAND, CFCS
Family & Community Health Sciences Educator
Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Union County
Over the past few decades, Americans have been eating out more and cooking at home less often. When you cook at home, however, you can often make better choices about what and how much you eat and drink than you do when eating out. Cooking can also be a fun activity and a way for you to spend time with family and friends.
When eating at home, remember to focus on foods you need, eat fewer empty calories, and decrease portion sizes. Many recipes include calorie content per serving. Compare calorie content and choose meals that fit within your daily calorie needs. If cooking for a family, family members may each have different calorie needs. You can still cook the same nutritious foods, but vary the portion sizes. For example, an active adolescent male can still eat the same foods as his five-year-old sister, but he will just eat more.
If you don't usually cook at home, start gradually. Make it a goal to cook once a week and work up to cooking more often. A healthy meal starts with more vegetables and fruits and smaller portions of protein and grains. Think about how you can adjust the portions on your plate to get more of what you need without too many calories.
Don't forget reduced-fat dairy by making it a beverage with your meal and by adding fat-free or low-fat dairy products to your plate. You don't have to eat from every food group at each meal, but thinking about the food groups can help you build a healthy meal pattern. Check out these tips for healthier meals:
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