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Family Nutrition

Home-cooked Goodness

If you could reduce your expenses and improve your family’s health in one step, chances are you’d take it. Cooking at home is just that leap forward.

Making meals at home is a natural part of family life. 
For too many, though, cooking is a mysterious chore that can be skipped by driving through a fast-food joint or filling the grocery cart with convenience foods. In the end, those tricks aren’t doing anyone any good.

When you eat fast food, takeout or even gourmet restaurant meals, you’re likely to take in much more saturated/trans fats, sugars and sodium than you need. A recent USDA study showed that ounce for ounce, foods eaten away from home are more calorie dense than foods prepared at home. Even a vegetarian burrito, considered a “healthy choice” for most, averaged 1,140 calories and 2,610 milligrams of sodium. A “healthy” chicken/broccoli pasta contained 126 grams of fat. And because they must be preserved for shelf life and present a full flavor to get repeat customers, convenience foods from the grocery store are generally filled with preservatives, chemicals, sodium and fat – things you can control by cooking at home.

But it’s faster, right? 
Not necessary. Another recent study poked holes in the argument that heat-and-serve convenience foods are much faster to get on the table than a meal prepared from whole, fresh foods. Why? Many families that rely on convenience foods prepare several separate items for each family member, increasing overall prep and heating time. Broiling salmon, making a fresh salad, and steaming green beans for the entire family takes less than 15 minutes. 

Hidden benefits
When a parent shows an interest in cooking, kids often jump right in to help and begin understanding how food is made and where fresh ingredients come from. In addition, cooking can include downtime, providing time to relax and catch up with each other as the rice cooks or chicken roasts.

Another benefit of cooking at home is a full pantry of healthy choices thanks to smart grocery shopping. Carrots, celery, jicama, apples, oranges, frozen fruits – they’ll all be there when snack-time hunger hits. 

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