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Last updated Jun. 23, 2024 by Peter Jakes

How to Eat Out Less and Cook at Home More

In today’s fast-paced world, eating out has become a common and habitual practice for many people. However, regularly dining at restaurants or relying on takeout can take a heavy toll on your wallet and your health. Transitioning to cooking at home can be a refreshing change that brings numerous benefits, including saving money, eating healthier meals, and having more control over what you consume. Here is a comprehensive guide on how to eat out less and cook at home more.

Why Cook at Home?

Before diving into the how, let’s understand the why:

  1. Cost-Effectiveness: Cooking at home is significantly cheaper than eating out. The markup on restaurant food can be as high as 300%.
  2. Health Benefits: Home-cooked meals are generally healthier. You control the ingredients, portion sizes, and cooking methods.
  3. Quality Time: Cooking at home provides an opportunity to spend quality time with family or roommates.
  4. Skill Acquisition: The more you cook, the better you get at it. Over time, cooking at home becomes easier and more enjoyable.

Steps to Start Cooking at Home

1. Plan Your Meals

Planning is the cornerstone of home cooking. Without proper planning, it’s easy to fall back into old habits of eating out.

Tips for Effective Meal Planning:

  • Set Aside Time: Dedicate a specific time each week to plan your meals. Sunday evenings work well for many people.
  • Start Simple: Begin with easy recipes that require minimal ingredients.
  • Use a Meal Planner: Use apps or printable meal planners to organize your week.
  • Incorporate Leftovers: Plan to use leftovers in your next meal to save time and reduce waste.

2. Grocery Shopping

A well-stocked kitchen is essential for cooking at home.

Tips for Grocery Shopping:

  • Create a Shopping List: Stick to your list to avoid impulse buys.
  • Buy in Bulk: Items like grains, beans, and spices can be bought in bulk to save money.
  • Seasonal Produce: Opt for seasonal fruits and vegetables as they are cheaper and fresher.
  • Store Essentials: Always have pantry staples like rice, pasta, canned tomatoes, and spices on hand.

3. Set Up Your Kitchen

A well-organized kitchen can make cooking more enjoyable and efficient.

Tips for Kitchen Organization:

  • Counter Space: Keep your countertops clear to have more space for meal prep.
  • Equipment: Invest in basic kitchen tools such as knives, cutting boards, pots, and pans.
  • Storage: Use containers to store ingredients so they are easy to find.
  • Setup Stations: Create dedicated spaces for cutting, mixing, and cooking.

4. Learn Basic Cooking Techniques

Starting with basic cooking techniques can make the process less intimidating.

Techniques to Master:

  • Chopping Vegetables: Learn the proper way to chop different vegetables.
  • Boiling and Steaming: Essential for cooking pasta, vegetables, and grains.
  • Sautéing: Quick method for cooking vegetables and proteins.
  • Baking: Ideal for preparing breads, casseroles, and baked dishes.

5. Make it Enjoyable

Cooking at home should not feel like a chore. Incorporate elements that make it enjoyable.

Ways to Enjoy Cooking:

  • Music: Play your favorite tunes while cooking.
  • Cooking Together: Involve family or roommates in the cooking process.
  • Experiment: Try new recipes and cuisines to keep things interesting.
  • Presentation: Take time to plate your food attractively.

✓ Short Answer

Effective meal planning involves setting aside time to plan, starting with simple recipes, using a meal planner, and incorporating leftovers. Grocery shopping tips include creating a list, buying in bulk, opting for seasonal produce, and storing essentials. A well-organized kitchen and mastering basic cooking techniques can also make home cooking enjoyable and efficient.

Overcoming Common Barriers

Even with the best intentions, obstacles can sometimes make it difficult to avoid eating out.

1. Time Constraints


  • Meal Prep: Spend a few hours on weekends preparing meals for the week.
  • Quick Recipes: Use recipes that take 20-30 minutes to prepare.
  • Batch Cooking: Cook large quantities and freeze portions for later use.

2. Lack of Skills


  • Cooking Classes: Take online cooking classes or attend local workshops.
  • YouTube: Watch tutorial videos for visual guidance.
  • Cookbooks: Start with beginner-friendly cookbooks.

3. Cravings for Restaurant Food


  • Recreate Favorites: Try to make your favorite restaurant dishes at home.
  • Dining Out as a Treat: Reserve eating out for special occasions to make it more enjoyable when you do.

Benefits Beyond the Kitchen

1. Financial Savings

You can save a significant amount of money by cooking at home. For example, a $10 meal at a restaurant can cost you just $3 to make at home.

2. Health Improvements

Cooking at home allows you to control the amount of salt, sugar, and fat in your meals. You can use fresh and organic ingredients to boost your health.

3. Personal Growth

As you cook more, you will develop a new skill set that ranges from meal planning to time management. These skills are transferable to other areas of life.

4. Family Bonding

Cooking at home presents an excellent opportunity to bond with family members. You can cook together and enjoy meals without the distractions that often come with eating out.


Q: How do I start if I’ve never cooked before?

A: Begin with simple recipes and gradually move to more complex ones. Use online resources and cookbooks aimed at beginners.

Q: What if I don’t have time to cook every day?

A: Meal prepping and batch cooking can be lifesavers. Set aside a few hours each week to prepare meals that can be quickly reheated.

Q: How can I avoid getting bored with home-cooked meals?

A: Experiment with different cuisines, ingredients, and cooking methods. Use fresh herbs and spices to change the flavors of your meals.

Q: Is it more expensive to cook for one person?

A: Not necessarily. Plan your meals to use the same ingredients in multiple recipes and freeze leftovers for future meals.

Q: What are some essential tools for a beginner cook?

A: Basic kitchen tools include a good set of knives, cutting boards, measuring cups and spoons, pots and pans, and mixing bowls.

Q: How do I handle cravings for takeout or restaurant food?

A: Try to recreate your favorite restaurant dishes at home. Allow yourself an occasional treat but stick to home cooking as much as possible.

In conclusion, eating out less and cooking at home more can seem daunting initially, but with a bit of planning, practice, and persistence, it can become a rewarding and enjoyable habit. Whether you are aiming to save money, eat healthier, or spend more time with your loved ones, cooking at home offers numerous benefits that make the effort worthwhile.

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