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What Are The Health Benefits Of Eating Home-Cooked Meals?

Last updated Nov. 6, 2016

Approved by: Maulik P. Purohit MD MPH

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Eating healthy home cooked meals can have positive health effects in the home atmosphere. Children who eat meals with their parents regularly at home have better school grades, healthier relationships, and are less likely to get into trouble by keeping out of trouble.


Most Americans love going out with family and friends to a nice restaurant to grab a bite to eat. According to a survey by Visa, on an average, Americans go out for lunch twice a week and spend $10 each time. Assuming that each American goes on a two-week vacation, that is $936 annually on meals outside of the home. Eating more home-cooked meals can save you money and also improve your health.

A recent report by the Public Health Nutrition suggests that eating at fast food chains and full-service restaurants leads to a significant increase in calorie intake. The researchers evaluated data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey including more than 12,000 individuals between the ages of 20 to 64 years of age. In the survey, the participants were asked about their eating habits on two separate days. 58% of the participants ate at a fast food chain, a full-service restaurant, or both. The shocker was that the individuals who ate out consumed on average 200 calories more than people who ate home cooking. One pound is roughly equivalent to 3,500 calories. This means that with this kind of eating habit, if an individual ate out every day, he/she would be eating 73,000 extra calories or 20.56 pounds. The same study by the Public Health Nutrition also found that individuals who ate out had higher intakes of saturated fat and sodium.

The Journal of American Dietetic Association collected data from 17,370 adults and children and found that individuals who specified eating fast food had higher calorie, total fat, saturated fat, and sodium consumption than those who did not reported eating fast food. They also had a lower intake of nutrients like vitamins A and C. According to another experiment conducted at Harvard University, families that ate together regularly at home ate more vitamins and minerals such as calcium, fiber, iron, B-vitamins, vitamin E and vitamin C; they also had less overall saturated fat intake.

Eating healthy home cooked meals can have positive health effects in the home atmosphere. The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse reports that children who eat meals with their parents regularly at home have better school grades, healthier relationships, and are less likely to get into trouble by keeping out of trouble. In addition, children who eat with their parents are 42% less likely to drink alcohol, 50% less likely to smoke cigarettes, and 66% less likely to try marijuana.

Cooking food with the family at home can help you eat more healthy foods and stay away from high sodium and fats. Those who are trying to maintain a healthy weight can lose weight just by switching their source of food to healthy homemade meals. Get into a habit of eating from home. It is indeed a wise decision. 

Additional Resources:

Nguyen, B. T., & Powell, L. M. (2014). The impact of restaurant consumption among US adults: effects on energy and nutrient intakes. Public health nutrition,17(11), 2445-2452.

Paeratakul, S., Ferdinand, D. P., Champagne, C. M., Ryan, D. H., & Bray, G. A. (2003). Fast-food consumption among US adults and children: dietary and nutrient intake profile. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 103(10), 1332-1338.

Forthun, L. (2012). Family Nutrition: The Truth About Family Meals.

Gillman, M. W., Rifas-Shiman, S. L., Frazier, A. L., Rockett, H. R., Camargo Jr, C. A., Field, A. E., ... & Colditz, G. A. (2000). Family dinner and diet quality among older children and adolescents. Archives of Family Medicine, 9(3), 235.

Helpful Peer-Reviewed Medical Articles:

Papadaki, A., Hondros, G., Scott, J. A., & Kapsokefalou, M. (2007). Eating habits of university students living at, or away from home in Greece. Appetite, 49(1), 169-176.

Smith, L. P., Ng, S. W., & Popkin, B. M. (2013). Trends in US home food preparation and consumption: analysis of national nutrition surveys and time use studies from 1965–1966 to 2007–2008. Nutrition Journal, 12(1), 1.

Green, R. J. (2010). Brain food: the relationship between home-cooked meals and student success. College Student Journal, 44(3), 720.

Naruseviciute, G., Whybrow, S., Macdiarmid, J. I., & McNeill, G. (2015). Is “home cooked” healthier and cheaper than ready meals?. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, 74(OCE1), E90.

Tomblin, J. (2007). Home Cooked Meals: The negative consequences of food globalization and movement towards local farming (Doctoral dissertation).

Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: Nov. 6, 2016
Last updated: Nov. 6, 2016