Food for thought: Is home cooked food better than fast food?

Never before has the restaurant business enjoyed such widespread popularity. The restaurant industry is thriving in most contemporary cities, offering a wide range of choices. Today, there are more options available to discerning customers than just coffee shops, steakhouses, and pizza restaurants, including all you can-eat organic buffets and cigar bars.

In today’s expanding service sector, themed restaurants have grown in popularity. Nowadays, it’s typical to hear of eateries with themes ranging from medieval to the nautical for their meals, service, and décor. Even various nations and cultures from around the world are represented in the selection of restaurants as a whole. In the past, most cities had Chinese and Italian menus. Jamaican, Mexican, Vietnamese, Cuban, and even certain African cuisines are common staples in the kitchens of most major cities throughout the world. Modern menus also include dishes from other countries. Not to mention the taverns and pubs with drink menus, decor, and atmosphere from a different era or location

Studies reveal that those who cook more frequently rather than order takeout consume food that is generally healthier. These studies also demonstrate that compared to home-cooked meals, restaurant meals often have higher levels of sodium, saturated fat, total fat, and calories. You have complete control over what goes into your cuisine when you put fresh ingredients together yourself or have them delivered right to your house using a service like Plated. That could significantly improve your general health.

Benefits of a home-cooked meal

It can be a money saver, too

Cooking meals at home could end up saving you money in the long run. The cost of a collection of common ingredients is frequently less than that of a single restaurant dish. Additionally, cooking at home can yield more meals than ordering takeout or having leftovers to bring to work the next day. It wouldn’t take long for you to start noticing savings after a few weeks. Compared to restaurant meals, which can range in price according to the quality of the establishment and the services they provide, home-cooked food is less expensive. For a healthy meal, you can also select your serving size, which is not feasible in a restaurant.

It has been found that the cliche that eating at Burger King is less expensive than cooking a dinner at home is untrue. The only way fast food is genuinely “cheaper” now when it is compared merely on calories, is when it is measured in a variety of ways. When comparing price, serving size, weight, or nutritional value, home-cooked meals are more affordable. Other research has since confirmed that fast food is not inexpensive. Your time is obviously precious as well. Try using an online grocery store or a shopping service to cut down on the amount of time you spend shopping (there is even one just for college students living in dorms).


Meals prepared at home are healthier than takeout or fast food. When you cook at home, the produce’s nutritious content is preserved. Typically, takeout has a lot of oil, butter, and spices, which may not be good for you, especially if you eat it frequently. However, when you cook at home, you have control over how much oil you use and can omit any unwholesome seasonings or artificial flavors.

Brings the family together

Family dinners are lovely. There aren’t many better methods for a family to show love to one another and strengthen their connection. Eating as a family has been found to result in healthier families, in addition to being the ideal method to learn about how everyone’s day went. “Without question, it takes less energy and resources to cook at home,”  says David Pimentel, Professor Emeritus at the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell University.

According to Pimentel, food production requires seven kilocalories of energy, but food processing, packing, and transportation require an additional ten kilocalories. In layman’s terms, this indicates that processing food uses more than twice as much energy as growing it. When you buy a frozen pizza or frozen dinner, you are consuming almost twice as many resources to feed yourself as it takes your neighbor to prepare a meal at home. This is because processed food is frequently both frozen (which requires more energy) and cooked again (which requires even more energy).

Lockdown motivated more South Africans to get creative in the kitchen

Since the lockdown, there has been a noticeable interest in donning an apron and turning up the heat, according to an independent survey of 1,000 responses. 93% of those surveyed enjoyed attempting new recipes, and the majority claimed that TV programs like MasterChef had influenced their culinary preferences. Since the start of the lockdown two years ago, 90% of respondents claimed they have been preparing more meals at home.

“The start of lockdown sparked a passion for trying new recipes as people had to stay home and were unable to visit their favorite restaurants. We initially went through the baking craze but noticed an appetite among customers experimenting with different fresh foods,” says Andrew Mills, Group Executive: Marketing at Pick n Pay.

The typical tendency is to experiment with new dishes once or twice a month (24%), then weekly (30%), or whenever inspiration strikes (30%). One in ten responders to the poll claimed to try new dishes every day.According to the survey, the desire to develop one’s culinary abilities ranks third in terms of motivation for trying new dishes (32%). Wanting to try new foods or dishes is the second most common justification (26%). Making delectable cuisine for friends and family is a common motivation (18%). The remaining 11% want to escape the monotony of preparing the same dish over and over again.“While visiting a restaurant is always a treat, it seems South Africans do agree that nothing beats a delicious home-cooked meal, especially when shared with family and friends,” says Mills.

Mills stated that they are observing more foodies come in stores to buy fresh ingredients on their journey from being a home cook to a master chef, similar to how MasterChef SA winners use the contemporary on-set Pick n Pay pantry to make amazing meals. He concludes, “This year’s MasterChef SA season has been really exciting because it included many locally inspired recipes and twists so South Africans had the opportunity to ‘learn new tricks to turn simple dishes into an exciting food experience.”

The food you cook is tastier

Unless no one in the home cooks, no adult remembers a frozen or commercial dish warmly as their favorite. What conjures up pleasant memories? Macaroni and cheese from a box or mom’s ziti sauce? Chicken soup from a can or Grandma’s? No matter how boring the recipe, the solutions are simple. With the internet, you can instantly choose from literally thousands of recipes, including many that will become family favorites for years to come. Punchfork can help you choose the most popular dishes from hundreds of food blogs, while Yummly allows you to filter out recipes for only those that are quick and inexpensive (you can also set taste preferences and other food limitations on the site).

“I can think of any number of reasons why cooking at home is a good idea,” says Nestle via email.  “You have better control of ingredient quality, freshness, portion size, and calories.   At-home food can cost a whole lot less for what you are getting than a restaurant or pre-prepared foods.  It can be a whole lot better for you.  It’s a terrific way to teach kids about the taste, texture, and pleasure of food.  And it can be a great family bonding experience.  And once you get the hang of it, it really doesn’t have to take all that much time or effort.”

The cost of Eating Healthy

Many South Africans must cut back on healthy eating to make ends meet due to the country’s rising cost of living. The burden felt by a nation with a record unemployment rate has been made worse by increases in gasoline prices, skyrocketing food prices, and an impending increase in power rates. People, according to Mervyn Abrahams of the Pietermaritzburg Economic Justice and Dignity organization (PMBEJD), “prioritizing transport to get to work, electricity, which is set to hike in June, and paying off debt as most people have to take out loans to stay afloat. Only after that do they buy food.”

The implication of having less money for food is that “people are cutting back on the amount of food they eat, and they are cutting back on the quality of food they eat,” says Abrahams. “People are eating starch because it’s filling them up. It seems like a good meal, but it’s missing those nutritional aspects. They prioritise what we have in our baskets as core foods, but now they can barely afford the core foods, so they buy rice or mielie meal, not both, some potatoes, some onions, cooking oil, and some stock cubes or soup to give the food some flavour … If money is left over they buy the other foods, and that’s the nutritious food – your tin pilchards and fresh vegetables. So now people have dropped nutritious food because of affordability.”

The Heart and Stroke Foundation estimates that lifestyle decisions and behaviors, such as eating a healthy diet, can prevent 70% to 80% of heart disease and stroke. A healthy diet should ideally include fruits, vegetables, beans, low-fat dairy, whole-grain starchy meals, whole-fiber foods, and lean, fresh protein. Prices for each of these food groups have skyrocketed in recent years. Between February 2021 and March 2022, the price of a 5 kg box of sugar beans increased by 9%, from R158.76 to R173.20. Cooking oil costs have risen significantly as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine; canola oil prices for 2021 compared to 2020 soared by more than 80%. The price of palm oil increased by 72%, while the prices of rapeseed and coconut oils also surged significantly. Cooking oils like sunflower or vegetables are so expensive that South Africans can hardly afford them, let alone better options like olive oil.

The competition commission is investigating the pricing of fresh food. Abrahams maintains that while the PMBEJD supports this initiative, the list of items being looked into is too limited. Products like sugar beans aren’t being questioned, but they ought to be. The competition commission says it is essential that food prices remain accessible to all. “Price increases in essential foods can be more damaging to poorer consumers for whom essential foods shape a larger part of their consumption and household expenditure,” the commission says. “Access to healthy and nutritious food at affordable prices is of critical importance as the South African economy continues to struggle in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. The pandemic has presented challenges for global food security, affecting vulnerable households in many countries, and with impacts forecasted to remain throughout 2022.”

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