We’ve all heard the complaints: home cooking is too time-consuming, too expensive, and too complicated. It’s much easier to sprawl on the couch with some order-in pad thai. Takeout is great; it’s easy, simple, reliably delicious, and just what you need after a long day at work. When you stop at your local Asian-fusion spot or Mexican grille, you don’t have to fuss over bubbling pots and pans, or even cast a stray thought towards cleanup more complicated than tossing cardboard containers into the bin. But as good of a fallback as takeout is, buying to-go boxes of food can’t compare to the experience of enjoying a home-cooked meal with family. Here, I provide some tips on how to make a home-cooked meal easier, cheaper, healthier, and more enjoyable than takeout could ever be.

Plan Ahead

The worst mistake a would-be cook could make is failing to plan ahead. Leaving recipe selection until an hour before dinnertime inevitably means a last-minute run to the grocery store, a grumpy effort in the kitchen, and a wholly un-enjoyable meal for everyone. Moreover, a lack of planning leads more expensive meals. By planning ahead and choosing meals with common base ingredients, you can slash costs and limit your grocery store visits to once per week. If you keep staples such as rice, pasta, flour, and canned beans on hand, those last-ditch nights will be far less stressful and costly – it might even save you money! According to financial writers at InvestmentZen, the average home-cooked meal costs about $4 per person, while the average takeout meal costs somewhere around $12.

 

Start Small

You probably shouldn’t begin a foray into cooking with an intricate French recipe. Keep it simple! Stick to recipes with under ten ingredients and work your way up once you feel confident that you’ve mastered the basics. Try heading out to your local bookstore to find a beginner’s recipe book if you need some ideas!

 

Make the Time

Some people argue that they simply don’t have the time to cook their own meals – and maybe that’s true. But how much time do they spend driving to the restaurant, waiting for the food to cook, picking up the meal, and driving back? If they had all of the ingredients and recipes they needed on-hand, cooking at home might actually take less time than eating out. Think ahead! Pre-chop your veggies a few days before you need them, and make a comprehensive ingredient list before you go grocery shopping so that you don’t unnecessarily waste time in a last-minute supply run.

 

Cooking at home is enjoyable, delicious, and inexpensive – but you should always plan ahead!