We have entered new territory regarding how little we cook. Last spring, the US Commerce Department showed that, for the first time, spending at restaurants exceeded spending at grocery stores. A similar trend can be seen here in Canada. The amount of money that Canadians spend at restaurants is growing faster than the rate of inflation, reaching an estimated $72 billion dollars per year. Clearly, we are happy to let others do the cooking. But what’s the cost? Why be concerned? Dining out has been linked to a reduced diet quality, risk for diabetes and other chronic health conditions, and weight gain.
A study published in PLOS medicine last week1 provides more evidence of this. The Harvard researchers who conducted the study were looking at the association between risk for type 2 diabetes and meals prepared out of home. They analysed data for roughly 100, 000 men and women from 1986 to 2012 who reported their frequency having mid-day or evening meals at home versus dining out. Those who ate 11 to 14 lunch and supper meals prepared at home per week were 14% less likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those eating 6 or fewer meals prepared at home. This link, at least in part, was because of weight gain. Those who ate the most meals prepared at home per week had less weight gain than those who ate the least. The link between supper meals was stronger than for lunch meals.
Reclaim Your kitchen
Keep it simple. Use pre-cut and washed vegetables to save time. A rotisserie chicken, frozen lean meat balls, canned low sodium beans, and chickpeas are quick and easy protein sources. Whole grain pita, couscous or microwave rice can be used to round out your meals. Mix these up for some tasty dishes and you just might enjoy eating in a bit more.
Here are three meals you can prepare at home without touching a stove!
1.5 cups baby spinach
2 tablespoons salsa
1 wedge of The Laughing Cow garlic & herb cheese
½ cup black beans
6” whole grain tortilla
1.5 cups broccoli slaw
1 tablespoon coleslaw dressing
3-4 ounces rotisserie chicken, sliced
1 whole grain dinner roll
1 cup romaine lettuce
¼ cup each cucumber, tomato, black olives
6 lean meat balls (such as Blue Menu), microwaved according to package
2 tablespoons tzatziki
1 whole grain greek pita
1 Zong G, et al. (2016) Consumption of meals prepared at home and risk of type 2 diabetes: An analysis of two prospective cohort studies. PLoS Med 13(7): e1002052. Doi:10.1371/journal.pmed. 1002052