How many of your meals are made at home? If you’re like a lot of Americans, the answer is, “fewer and fewer.” According to market research firm The NPD Group, fewer than 60% of dinners eaten at home are actually homemade. And that number has slowly dwindled since the early 80’s, when it was closer to 75%.

So, we are consuming more meals outside the home or relying on someone else to do the preparation. When it comes to health, this is not great news. Commercially prepared foods are often higher in things like calories, sugar, fat, and sodium, which makes it very difficult to meet healthful diet guidelines. If cooking is not your forte, never fear. Below is your roadmap to go from a Top Chef viewer to a Top Chef Doer!

  1. Find some help. A great place to start is the media library right here on Virtual Health Partners, where you can find recipes and cooking demonstrations that you can watch from the comfort of your couch (or, better yet, your kitchen!). If you’d like something in-person, check your local grocery stores, community centers, and community colleges to see if they offer free or low-cost cooking classes.
  2. Start simple. No one became a Top Chef overnight. Start out by trying some basic food prep methods, like roasting or steaming, which can be used for many different meals. Once you’ve tackled that, move on to preparing simple recipes with limited ingredients.
  3. Make a plan. Now that you’ve gained more confidence, make things easier for yourself with meal planning. This is basically the process of thinking ahead about what you want to make and gathering the necessary ingredients. This way, you can do some preparation ahead of time, if necessary, or even stockpile some freezer meals for those busy weeks!
  4. Get it delivered. No, I’m not talking about pizza delivery! Look into using a healthy meal delivery service or grocery delivery. They provide all of the necessary ingredients – you just do the cooking. Removing shopping from the equation takes away some of the stress and saves you time. Some clients have told me that this was actually the easiest way to get started cooking at home.

Putting a little time into learn about cooking can pay out huge returns – not only in your health but also in your pocketbook. Give it a try, your kitchen is waiting!