Tammy’s Top Ten (t3 report) Reasons to Eat at Home

Inspired by Nancy at Spirit Lights the Way, I thought I’d share the reasons that I love to eat at home. Don’t get me wrong, I also love a great meal out but given the choice, I’ll eat in my own kitchen. My attitude toward eating at home began during a time when my husband was traveling a great deal. I simply felt bad asking him to have one more meal in a restaurant and as such, stepped up my own culinary skills. Since that time, I’ve added many more reasons:

Food Prep in Agrigirl's Kitchen

1. It costs so much less. Nancy gives an example on her site. Some of you followed me while we did the Food Stamp Challenge earlier this year. We can eat well at a fraction of the cost.

2. I know where the produce came from. This is important to me. We eat from our local, seasonal CSA everyday. And while I’m not listing it as a separate benefit, we’re supporting our local farmer.

3. I know the chef. I know what she puts in the dish and I know whether or not her doctors would approve.

4. There are often leftovers to be used for lunches during the week or our once-a-week pick any leftover for dinner night.

5. It’s the best family time that you can get. I posted on this singular reason once in the past but it’s not just my preference, there’s plenty of research around the value of a family dinner.

6. My kids don’t have to have a cheeseburger, chicken nuggets or cheese pizza. Come on parents. I know that some of you have to agree with me about the absolute lack of creativity when it comes to kids’ menus.

7. For me, cooking is a great unwinding time. I know this isn’t the case for everyone but the zen of chopping or stirring a saute is a release for me.

8. I can store the leftovers in a corning ware dish or glass jar and don’t have to lug those styrofoam disposable containers home (actually a real pet peeve so look for a future post here).

9. We’re not burning any fossil fuel to get to the restaurant. We have enough trips with baseball games, violin lessons, school and work.

10. Everyone can get in the game. My husband has talented culinary genes. The kids sometimes enjoy pitching in. I love spending kitchen time with anyone.

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  1. I totally agree! Another reason I’d add is that portion control is much easier to achieve at home. Also, by the time I have sliced, diced, tested and tasted the meal I am preparing (including munching on a few veggies here and there), I don’t usually feel like eating a lot when we actually sit down at the table. Conversely, when eating in a restaurant, I anticipate the arrival of the food, so tend to eat more of it when it comes.

    • Oh, portion control is great. Nancy listed it in her reasons and I skipped it in order to fuss about those styrofoam containers!!

  2. Your # 7 is my own best reason for eating at home 🙂

  3. After I tasted some of the meals you cook in your kitchen Tammy, you led me to become somewhat of a culinary delight myself. I realize it is not that difficult for FRESH/RAW foods to lovingly be grilled, tossed, pureed, and my all time favorite, drizzled with lemon and mingled with fresh chillis in my very own kitchen.

    Fresh food is so, so much better than some of the things one may find in a local hot spot! Cooking for 1 is starting to loose its excitement though. I will have to have more dinner parties 🙂 🙂

    • Cooking for one is a challenge. We found that out in our food stamp challenge also. I think it would make for so very good future posts.

  4. Those are all great reasons! I’m fortunate that my wife is a terrific cook and we by far prefer her cooking and dining in our own home is far better than anything we’ve found in a restaurant.

  5. Hear hear! I, too, prefer eating at home to restaurants, which has sometimes been viewed strangely in my family, where restaurant meals are commonplace. There’s just something so nice about pottering in the kitchen and knowing you’ll like what’s served 😉

  6. I totally agree with this 🙂 I love homey cozy meal with my family. I love cooking as much as I love eating, and even better, my whole family prefer my dishes than any of the chef in restaurants 🙂

  7. I completely also agree with all of your stated items!

    Cooking is so much fun & recently, my husband & I cook regularly together on some good music. It relaxes us a lot!!! You know the chefs & it is great family time!

    Happy times & Happy cooking too! 🙂

  8. All so very true! Your Food Stamp Challenge was an awesome idea. It seems so possible to eat nourishing meals at home, but when you add limited access to a variety of stores and sources of information, it becomes much more challenging.

  9. So nice to hear I’m not the only one!! (Yet, somehow, knowing this about YOU doesn’t surprise me one bit…)

    Hubby and I often comment on how, amongst everyone we know, we rarely eat out! We do so love planning and cooking the meals together, knowing the ingredients and perhaps, most importantly, controlling portion sizes (is it just me, or are restaurant portions still completely ridiculous?)

    Baking is absolutely a therapeutic exercise for me, and also, somewhat of a magical experience (I mean, seriously…you put a bunch of ingredients together, pop ’em in the oven and tasty delights emerge?? What’s not to love? 🙂 )

    RE: reason #6…parents don’t give kids enough credit. Our friends often tell us how ‘picky’ an eater their child is and yet, when she is at our home, she tries and eats everything we make! (My mom says the very same thing about my dad and well, ditto. 🙂 )

    All your reasons are so TRUE and I could add two more:

    11. The food is BETTER tasting! All of us have experienced the restaurant meal where we are soooo disappointed as we sadly realize, we could have made it better ourselves.

    12. Practice makes perfect! A few years back, some culinary switch turned in my head. I was always a decent cook, but rarely took many chances. Since I’ve tossed caution to the wind, our meals have become ‘chef worthy’ as I’ve come to rely more on my palate than a recipe. Let’s just say our friends and family are quite pleased with the change.

    Bravo Tammy! Don’t know how you do it but time and time again, you create these wonderful, insightful, strike-a-nerve posts! 🙂

  10. I am with you all the way on this! And now that I have to completely avoid gluten, it has become almost impossible to eat out without the anxiety of getting ill for a week because some “creative” chef decided to throw in some flour! (Did you know that some fancy restaurants actually put a wheat product into the butter brought to the table? Yikes!!! Why???)

    And regarding take-out containers: Keep some plastic containers in your car and take the time to go out to the car to get them if you have leftovers at a restaurant. Really easy – my daughter-in-law now just brings in the containers in their cloth bag whenever they go out. Bravo to her! I refuse to take leftovers if styrofoam is the only container option, and I make it clear to the restaurant staff that cardboard would be a much better choice. Sure, I am known as The Stryrofoam Police among my friends. Small price to pay.

    Too bad you live too far away to have a dinner with us!

  11. Tammy, I don’t disagree with any of this, but this is always a struggle for us. With 2 working parents and driving the kids to sports practice and helping the kids with homework and everything, eating in can be a real challenge. We’re trying, though. We really are.

  12. Tammy I love this! I am going to share this with my readers and may add a few more of my own. One of my favorite reasons is that cooking and eating at home helps me keep my priorities in line. We have to make time to plan, cook and eat together which means as a family we have to choose to not do other things. This helps us keep our family first!

    Thought provoking as always. Thanks!

  13. Lisa H

     /  April 5, 2011

    Your list is exactly the reasons we cook and eat at home! You are an amazing cook, and I love to sit and chat with you as you chop, stir and taste. It is a bonding time, down time, as the kids wander in and out of the kitchen and we catch up on what has been going on in our lives.
    The only thing I would add is that I can control the salt content of our food. High blood pressure runs in our family, so we are very careful with the amount of salt we add to our food. I am the only member for the last two generations on both sides of the family, who has not had to be on any type of high blood pressure medication. I attribute this to the fact that we cook at home and are careful with the salt.
    Wonderful list Tammy!

  14. Great post, Tammy! Really fits for me with what I’ve been doing, thinking about and reading. Thanks!

  15. ‘Nuff said. Eating at home is superior to eating out. I suppose that one must like to cook to get the most out of it. I like to cook. I will always enjoy occasionally eating out, but this doesn’t change the truth. Home made meals are better for all of the reasons you named. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on eating at home. Great photo of carrots, too.

  16. All fantastic reasons. 🙂

    As for #8, I’ve been strongly considering carrying my own container with me when I go out to eat so I won’t have to lug home something made of styrofoam.

  17. I’m with you! Don’t get me wrong, I do like to eat out sometimes. It’s nice to just enjoy without the work sometimes. Overall, though, I agree with all your reasons.

  18. This is a great post, Tammy, love that you thought about elaborating on this topic 🙂 Eating at home seems to sometimes run out of fashion so to say…
    # 1, 2, 3 & 7 are my own main reasons as well; there are oh so many dishes I will refuse to eat unless I made them myself.
    Plus for some reason that’s beyond me I just don’t like eating in public all that much and avoid it as much as possible 🙂

  19. I do enjoy my Friday and occasionally Sat. nights out, away from the clean up. But any other time, I’m right there with you, I prefer eating at home. You control where it came from and how much of everything you put into it. Course when it’s cooked with that special bit of love, it makes it taste so much better.

  20. Thanks for sharing your list and a link to SLTW! The more people who get off FAST FOOD and return to their kitchens the better.

    I agree with you 100% (no surprise, right).

    I also HATE those styrofoam boxes. Depending on what we have to take home, I often ask for a piece of foil to wrap it up in. If they bring out a box, I send them back for foil ~ because I can wash it off and reuse it to line the pan in the toaster oven, etc.

    But it’s still not as good as having leftovers at home.

    It’s funny about the kid’s menu at restaurants ~ they are rather predictable and uninspired, but sometimes there are vegetarian options on it (e.g., “real” macaroni and cheese) that aren’t offered to the grown ups.

  21. Another great list, Tammy! For me, cooking at home is just plain satisfying and having control over the sources and quality of my ingredients makes it even more so. Serving good homemade meals for friends and family spreads the joy. And, eating at home is so relaxing!

  22. I cook at home all the time, just need to keep learning to cook better! 🙂 These were wonderful reasons to back me up!

  23. Laura Silverman

     /  April 5, 2011


    I look forward to your anti-styrofoam post. I am starting to weed out all plastic containers at home though, in favor of glass and stainless steel or reusable sandwich bags. BPA migration has me concerned.


  24. Cris- I’d love to dine with you and I love your daughter in law’s habit. In fact, that’s given me quite a bit of food for thought.

    Todd- I completely understand and I may make you my project! Are you up for receiving a few tips and ideas to make it easier?

    Jennifer – I love the way you’ve described it as putting your priorities straight. And thanks for reposting if you do!

    Lisa – That’s completely impressive about avoiding high blood pressure. You need to come over. It’s been too long.

    Diane – I really do want to write something about cooking for one. You may need to be my inspiration.

    Carol – thanks for visiting. It is better for us – most of the time.

    Robin – That’s exactly what I’m thinking too! In fact, I think it might be a good business idea.

    Melissa – don’t think that I never go out. I do. and I enjoy it.

    Estrella – well that’s a new reason that I hadn’t considered but it’s okay because it’s yours. 🙂

    Joanne – you’re about the third or fourth to mention portion control. That’s something I missed.

    Nancy – thanks for being the inspiration. And I do want to talk with you more about those containers.

    Eleanor – I also enjoy entertaining.

    Debbie – Keep at it.

    Laura – So nice to hear from you! I’m also moving more towards glass but do want to explore options for people to take to restaurants.

  25. You and Nancy are a persuasive team….

  26. Tammy, you really are such a model. What a great attitude you have. Plus you walk your talk.

    No wonder I love reading your blog!

  27. Kath (My Funny Little Life)

     /  April 6, 2011

    Wonderful reasons, Tammy! I also love to eat at home, and cook every day. 🙂

    What you said about the quality of the produce is very important! I like to have a lot of fresh vegetables on my plate, and at a restaurant, I usually find the veggie servings too small. Also, since I’m sensitive to many foods, I like to know what’s in a dish. I often find restaurant meals too oily and fatty as well.

    The cost factor plays a big role for me, since I’m a student. I spend the largest part of my budget on food. Instead of eating out, I rather go grocery shopping at an organic supermarket and buy a lot of fresh veggies and herbs.

    • When I was a student, I had a real food routine. There were always spicy beans in the crockpot and a pot of brown rice. I actually miss that.

      • Kath (My Funny Little Life)

         /  April 7, 2011

        Hahaha, I also hava a food routine! Why not make a crockpot of brown rice and beans once again? 🙂

  28. Ravi

     /  April 6, 2011

    Tammy.. Totally agree with you. It greatly improves your health and quality of life. We appreciate the fact that at least we know what went into making the food we are eating ( well washed veggies/meat, appropriate quantities of salt or oil etc).

    In today’s hectic lifestyle, a simple home cooked meal enjoyed with everyone at the dinner table is just precious. Of course the best benefit is that I can take the leftovers for next day’s lunch and I dont have to ponder what/where to eat 🙂

  29. one of my (odd!) jobs is restaurant reviewer—and chefs can be notorious for over-relying on fats and salt for flavor. you have no idea how much butter and sodium has been cooked into a dish. that, paired with huge portions makes for an unhealthy meal.

  30. great post, we also prefer to eat at home..spending time in the kitchen with your kids also helps them to understand where their meal comes from, learn to cook and appreciate the produce..meat and effort to stay healthy!!


    • My oldest and I actually bought from a locally owned store tonight (grocery store with some prepared items). It was so great because we really talked about this post and the why and how of our meal.

  31. Ha! Your post has great timing for me. We went out to dinner as a family last night. We never go out to eat (for lots of reasons), so last night felt a bit special. Right after we got to the restaurant we realized that the only thing on the menu my picky-eater son would eat was french fries. Five minutes after we got our food my son spilled his water all over himself. After I dried him off a bit and sat him back down, I pushed in his chair and managed to smash his finger between the chair and the table. Then he burst into tears and screamed loudly, “Mommy, please stop hurting me!” Good grief. It was all a disaster. At least when we eat at home my son has a variety of food options, dry clothes, and I don’t have to worry about someone calling Social Services on me!

    • That is hilarious! I know it wasn’t for you but we’ve all been there and can completely relate. A funny side effect of this post is people telling me to do a similar one on reasons to eat out. 1. So that kids get used to going out. Thanks for making me smile Jean.

  32. Naomi

     /  April 8, 2011

    So well said, Tammy. You’re a culinary inspiration!! Love that carrot pic too. It makes my mouth water for a fresh carrot, peach and ginger juice 😀

  33. A great post and very true. Next time, someone says, “gimme one good reason to cook and eat at home”, I’ll tell him/ her, ” I’ll give you 10″. Cooking is not rocket science; in fact its quite easy and is fun. Lately, we cooked a lot at home. Me and a friend of mine. Over wine and some good music. It was extraordinary and we spent so much quality time with each other. So much more fun than eating out.

  34. You and I are on the same page with number 7. Cooking is zen.

  35. Wonderful – and tasty – reasons to eat at home ! # 3, 5 and 7 are definitely the ones I always keep in mind. You are right, Tammy, cooking is zen, improvising is quite an adventure, mostly very enjoyable.

  36. As a dietitian and a local food advocate, I love this blog post!

  1. Seven MORE reasons to eat at home « Ms Betterhome

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