Amanda is Healthy Food Guide's nutrition editor with a degree in nutrition and a post-grad diploma in dietetics. She is a member of the British Dietetic Association, The Nutrition Society and The Guild of Food...

Eating out once in a while is a treat to be enjoyed, but do it most nights of the week and it could play havoc with your health – and your bank balance


A new study from America reveals how ‘time poverty’ is a major reason why roughly half of all food dollars in the US are spent outside of the home.

There is, of course, the argument that if you have the money and choose healthy options, then there’s no need to be concerned with regular out-of-home eating habits whether you live in the US or here in the UK.

But as scientists from the University of Washington School of Public Health discovered, this is not the case.

In their study looking at the eating habits and diets of 437 adults, those who cooked at home most often were significantly more likely to eat a healthier overall diet, which indicates that putting even just a small amount of time aside to cook at home could be just what the bathroom scales are crying out for.

And as lead researcher Adam Drewnowski, director of public health nutrition at the school, observes – it’s not just your waistband, blood fats and blood pressure that can benefit:

‘By cooking more often at home, you have a better diet at no significant cost increase, while if you go out more, you have a less healthy diet at a higher cost.’

In other words, tucking into a home-cooked dinner costs less, too. We took a look at two typical Healthy Food Guide recipes to test the case…

How did our recipes do?

Our healthier southern ‘fried’ chicken passed the test with flying colours. With 233 calories per serving and costing just 87p per person to make, it compared really well with a supermarket ready-to-eat version costing £1.41 per person with 358 calories each.


Next up, our pork and apple burgers provide 341 calories and cost £1.30 each to whip up at home. Buy them in a restaurant, though, and each burger would set you back £6.15 and 587 calories.


So to look after your pocket as well as your health, cooking from scratch is a win-win situation – and it’s easier than you think! Check out the delicious recipes on our website and you’ll see. Each one is calorie-counted and aims to be as low as possible in fat, sugar and salt while boosting fibre, iron and calcium. It’s a great place to start.

Arpita Tiwari et al. Cooking at Home: A Strategy to Comply With U.S. Dietary Guidelines at No Extra Cost. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 2017; DOI: 10.1016/j.amepre.2017.01.017