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Enjoy More Home-Cooked Meals

Having a plan of attack makes all the difference.

Woman prepping home-cooked meals

One of the best steps one can take towards healthier eating is to prepare home-cooked meals. That’s why it’s important to determine what behavioral and environmental factors make it more or less likely that people will cook a meal and eat it with their family, rather than relying on restaurant food or calling for delivery.

To find out, a team of investigators from the University of Minnesota analyzed data from 108 families. They collected at least four evening meal observations—all in real time over a 2-week period. The Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics reported that meal-planning skills and meal routines—such as having set mealtimes—were significantly associated with odds of preparing more than 50% of evening meals at home. Meal-planning skills were linked with preparing more than 70% of evening meals at home.

This suggests that an appropriate nutrition intervention geared towards improving eating habits is to provide individuals who are responsible for food preparation in households with education on mastering meal planning and home-cooked meals. Examples might be setting aside a set time each week to lay out several meals for the days ahead and to gather up the necessary groceries. Going into mealtime without a plan is more likely to result in a Grubhub call.

See also: Family Meal Planning

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD, is a James Beard Award–winning food journalist, dietitian and author of the cookbook Rocket Fuel: Power-Packed Food for Sport + Adventure (VeloPress 2016). He has written for dozens of magazines, including Runner’s World, Men’s Health, Shape, Men’s Fitness and Muscle and Fitness.

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