Imagine as you run back home on a Wednesday from daylong meetings at work, you are not sure whether to cook or order for dinner. You have had a hectic day and never got to think about today’s dinner or tomorrow’s school lunch in a hot minute.
Have you found yourself in this dilemma, more often than not? Do you generally grab a frozen meal from the fridge or dial in to order Chinese takeout? Let me assure you are not alone in this. We all have been there, done that… at some point in our lives. We end up ordering quite frequently from restaurants than cooking at home. But there is a problem with it, here’s why…
WHY IS COOKING AT HOME MORE SUSTAINABLE?
Meals prepared at home has been scientifically proven to have greater nutrition than food prepared in the restaurants. But what is the truth behind it being better for the environment? Making food at home not only allows people to use sustainable ingredients, use less energy, waste lesser amounts of food but home cooking also means a lesser impact on the environment.
People are more likely to embrace healthier food options at home, such as plant-based diets, which in turn benefits our environment. Here are a few reasons why cooking and eating at home is better, not only for our health, but also for the environment:
WE HAVE CONTROL OVER THE INGREDIENTS WE CHOOSE TO WORK WITH
Although eating at a restaurant seems like the most convenient option after a rough day at work, having little or no knowledge about the source of the ingredients might prove dangerous for you and the environment. Was that beautifully served elite fish sustainably caught? Were the farmers compensated fairly for their arduous work? Where did the Nutella spread on your crepe come from?
Long story short, while eating at a restaurant, you cannot ensure whether the ingredients are sustainably sourced or not. On the other hand, when cooking a meal at home, you know exactly where everything came from. Fresh cucumber directly from the vegetable market, hot spices from that online spice Bazar, olive oil from Italy, and beans from your local grocer!
It is easier to make informed decisions about the food choices and preferences when you know everything in your kitchen is sustainably sourced.
WE CONTROL FOOD & PACKAGING WASTE
If you are a food lover, you must be familiar with episodes of Hell’s Kitchen. I am quite sure you have come across a scene where Chef Ramsay would shout at the contestants for not cooking that Lobster Risotto up to the mark and would throw the entire pan in the dustbin.
According to the National Resources Defense Council’s report Wasted , the food waste generated by restaurants surpass the amount generated by wholesale distributors, grocery stores, and retail supercenters combined.
As shameful as it is to say, food waste has become a genuine problem over the past few decades, whether in homes or fancy restaurants. Although some parts of the food system, such as eating places, waste more food than others, the most significant food-wasting is happening in our homes. This is because of poorly planned meals, not following labels, overbuying, and over-preparing.
However, God has blessed us with tremendous amounts of sense and knowledge. We as consumers can bring a tiny part of the knowledge into creating a weekly plan of preparing our meals at home and buying the ingredients accordingly so that we do not become wasters.
In addition to this, we can make the world a better place to live in by fighting food and packaging waste, by adopting sustainable habits such as recycling and composting!
HOME KITCHEN USES LESS ENERGY THAN A COMMERCIAL KITCHEN
I will again refer to Hell’s kitchen here (not a paid promotion, I promise!); you might have seen the number of stoves and energy-intensive utensils in that commercial kitchen. It is the same for every restaurant that you have ever been to.
While bulk cooking is more efficient and feeds more people at once, it also requires almost five times more energy per square foot than the energy utilized at homes. No wonder a small stove and fewer appliances at our homes not only save energy, but also are a blessing in disguise for our environment.
The more you cook at home instead of going out and having that Sunday brunch at a fancy restaurant, the more you play your part towards achieving healthy and safe environment goals!
HOME COOKING IS MORE ECONOMICALLY VIABLE & EASY ON OUR WALLETS
According to a 2017 study, people who prepare their meals at home rather than eating at a restaurant had better overall health. They are less likely to develop health issues such as obesity, hypertension, and cardiovascular dysfunction.
Such people also spend less money on food overall. And their diets include more plant-based foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables. There are numerous reasons for the health difference between these two categories of prepared food; restaurant meals are rich in fats, sodium, potassium, and sugar.
While home-based meals are lighter on the stomach and contain lower amounts of the components mentioned above. Thus, it is safe to conclude that home-cooked meals are not only healthy for the planet, but also good for us people!
So, does it mean we should quit eating out at restaurants? Absolutely not. It is okay to eat at a fancy restaurant once in a while. Choose sustainable restaurants that buy from local farmers or reduce wastage by donating leftover food to local organizations.
Be mindful of where your money should go when it comes to spending money on restaurants. Try picking up businesses that are trying their best to provide us with ingredients that are sourced sustainably and locally. Go for meals that are safe not only for us but also for our planet.
So, what is the conclusion from all of this? It doesn’t matter if you eat a fresh salad, a gourmet cheeseburger, or your usual egg sandwich with parfait. What important is that every meal you choose leaves an imprint on the environment, on the welfare of animals, people working in the food production lifecycle, and the overall public health. What is your contribution in all of this?? It is a food for thought… quite literally!!