Not only does a home-cooked meal give you the opportunity to control the calories you put into your body, but it also gives you a series of psychological health benefits. The daily activity helps you keep your creative side active, de-stress from a long day of work, and keep your brain working by doing small focused tasks and learning new techniques. Not to mention the satisfying feeling of creating something new every day that will fulfill your hunger and/or for someone else.
Cooking and baking have been proven time and time again to be a simple act that can fight against depression, anxiety, ADHD, eating disorders, stress, addiction, boost self-esteem and many other psychological issues. The act of creating a dish or a dessert, especially from scratch, requires full focus throughout the entire process. From the beginning when picking the ingredients, preparing the ingredients and while cooking everything to the right temperature and in their specific time.
Cooking and baking are also great ways for you to express your creativity. It can seem like an automatic activity when you are following a recipe, but in almost every recipe there is the opportunity to be creative, whether it is by picking a different frosting flavor for your cake or deciding between chicken or beef for your noodles.
Dinner is possibly the most pleasant meal to cook at home since it is after working hours so you can divert your thoughts, relax and just focus on chopping and mixing. Your day might have been horrible or you might have felt like you haven't done anything productive, just by making a meal for yourself will give you the feeling of accomplishment and self-worth. Serotonin (the happiness hormone) is released when you feel happy and accomplished, preventing depression.
In the kitchen, every ingredient goes through a physical change and observing these changes has been proven to be a type of meditation. By paying attention to the changes of smell, texture, sound, and size; for example how a round white onion can go from making your eyes burn into a smaller browner form that sizzles in your pan.
Even after you have cooked and eaten, the concept of cooking is always in the back of your mind, when watching a movie or walking down the street because you are always looking for the next delicious meal to make, how you can improve or make a recipe differently.
Being in the kitchen with another person also has a series of communication benefits, not only for yourself but for your relationship. Since each person has their unique taste, compromising and teamwork are very important aspects that can be put into practice when cooking together. Even when you are cooking for someone, keeping their preferences in mind when choosing a dish and making something entirely for someone else, will make you happy and motivated as shown from the expression 'cooking with love'. Seeing the receiver's positive reaction from something that you have created, in my opinion, is one of the best feelings in the world.
Home-cooked meals also help control your diet since every single ingredient in your dish has been selected by you and you know exactly what their benefits are. Not to mention the increased size of your bank account and it will make dining out more special.
Cooking and baking have been a way for families to pass on their traditions all around the world and since food is such a broad concept, there is something for everyone whether you like it sweet, sour, salty, bitter and umami. So there is no excuse to not make an effort to cook at home more often.