Americans generally don’t eat healthily, and our tendency to eat out several times a week - somewhere around 5.9 times, according to a survey conducted by Zagat - only contributes to this. As for teens, very few of us are capable of cooking our own meals. However, cooking your food from scratch is better for you financially and offers a much healthier alternative to purchasing outside food.
When living independently, it’s crucial to keep track of how much money you spend, and constantly eating out is expensive. In 2018, the average price per person was $36.40 for dinner. When breakfast, lunch, and snacks are to be added to that, the result is an outrageous sum of money spent on food. Buying frozen food or quick meals-on-the-go, as college students tend to do, might be cheaper than eating out but is still extremely unhealthy. Fresh ingredients are healthier and more inexpensive than both of these options while still being relatively accessible.
Generally speaking, American diets are unhealthy and high in sugars, salts, and saturated fats. According to the CDC, the amount of adolescents and adults who eat enough fruits and vegetables is less than 10%, and 90% of Americans intake too much salt. 60% of people from ages 2 to 19 and 50% of adults drink something sugary on a given day. Poor nutrition, such as this, often leads to serious health complications later on in life. Some of the more common health issues that develop are obesity, depression, stroke, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer.
Preparing your own food allows you to know exactly what you’re eating. It eliminates many unhealthy and harmful ingredients that outside food contains, improving your health and increasing your life expectancy. You can add any missing fruits, vegetables, vitamins, etc. to your diet, as well as change any recipes you make based on any allergies, special diets, and personal preferences.
While the number of calories and the portion sizes required vary depending on age, gender, and activity levels, these are the general recommended serving sizes for each food group:
Learning to cook isn’t as difficult as it may seem, especially in this age with the internet as one of our greatest resources. You can find lessons and recipes by doing a simple search, and there are many helpful websites and applications you can use (such as YouTube, Instagram, and Pinterest, among many others.) You can also learn how to cook through skilled family members and friends, cookbooks, or even lessons (there are both in-person and online classes available.) Not only is cooking a practical skill that will it keep you healthy, but it will also lead to a greater sense of accomplishment, confidence, and independence.