Why You Should Cook at Home

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You are all reading us here at Laura’s Lean Beef, so I am going to make the leap that besides being interested in great tasting Laura’s Lean Beef, you probably consider health when you reach for something in the supermarket. In other words, I believe you are already paying attention: to taste, to health, to making your life—and your family’s life—better.

 One of the biggest ways we can make our lives better and improve our health is to cook at home, and we want to be one of your biggest resources, which is why we work so hard to put up recipes we think you will enjoy. But if there is any doubt, here are five reasons it’s one of the best things you can do for yourself.

1. You can control the fat content of your meal. I’ve been known to say “Fat makes things taste great,” and it can be true. It is REALLY true in restaurants. Our job in a restaurant kitchen is to make things that taste great, not to make sure we make them taste great while adding no extra fat. Sauteed items get crispy in butter. Green beans get tossed in butter as they are heated. Flavored butters get melted over steaks and chops. Cream-based sauces go into deliciously rich dishes. Extra cheese here, a dollop of sour cream there. You have no control. At home, you DO. You don’t have to eliminate anything (unless ordered to do so by the doctor, of course). Use butter, but make a tablespoon go a long way in a dish that serves six. Add sour cream or cheese, but learn that small tastes of these items are flavor enhancers as opposed to flavors all on their own. Or, if you want to, learn how to cut it out by braising, poaching and roasting. You can because you are in the driver’s seat. Okay, make that you are in the chef’s coat.

2. You can control the sodium. One comment I get on my recipes is that the sodium content is too high. I’ll be honest—some of the recipes do have high sodium content, but these are not things I eat every day. And if I have to cut the sodium, I know I can by eliminating salty cheese, for example. You will notice I always say “salt and pepper to taste.” This means you can cook the dish without salt if you want to. Do what you need to do for your health.

3. You can control the portions. I won’t name names, but I can think of two restaurants in particular where the draw is the sheer amount of food that gets served for, frankly, a fairly reasonable price. I am good about taking half of my restaurant dinners home for another dinner on another day, but there are plenty of people who eat what is set before them, sometimes just because it is there, not even because they are still hungry. This is not a good way to eat.

4. You can control the quality. I am not saying restaurants use inferior products. But they are probably not selecting beef based on no added growth hormones and no antibiotics (and if they are, they probably will let you know, because that has become a selling point). I care about the food I buy, and I make a point of buying products I know do NOT have added hormones or antibiotics. It’s a choice I make, and one I am in full control of when I dine at home.

5. Sitting down to dinner becomes an easy habit. Dinner at home? No wait. Less expensive. Something to look forward to. I love my family around the dinner table. I admit, crazy schedules mean it can be tough to get everyone to sit down at the same time, but that doesn’t mean I give up trying. I remember family dinnertime so fondly from my own growing up years; I want my own children to remember that. We have conversation. We relax. If only for a short bit. I’m trying to go one better and set the table a bit more—real cloth napkins, perhaps candles? I want my dinner table to draw people to it.

What are your reasons for cooking at home? Share them with us!

Barb Freda Tips, Tools & Techniques

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