Home dinnerPhoto: Paul GoyetteCross-posted from Center for American Progress.

There are lots of great restaurants out there, but eating out regularly can add up in many ways: money, weight gain, and other health problems that develop over time. Here are six reasons why eating at home is ultimately superior.

  1. Save money: Packaged and prepared meals cost you considerably more than cooking with raw ingredients at home. Laura Stec notes in Cool Cuisine that just bringing home-cooked leftovers to work for lunch can save you $100 a month. You can also buy food in bulk, use store coupons, and buy food on sale.
  2. Use less salt and trans fats: Food producers and chefs use high levels of salt and fat to make their products taste better. If you prepare your meals at home you can control the amount of salts, oils, and other seasonings. This can help prevent weight gain, clogged arteries, and cardiovascular problems.
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  4. Control your portions: The Journal of Public Health Policy published a paper in 2007 showing how the portions served in fast food restaurants have gone from 10 inches in 1990 to 12 inches in 2010. People tend to eat more with larger portions, and this leads to weight gain. Cooking at home allows you to control serving sizes and prevent overeating.
  5. Avoid food poisoning: Seventy-six million people are poisoned by food each year in the United States according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. At home you can take preventive measures such as controlling temperatures when cooking meats, keeping hands and countertops clean, and properly washing your raw produce.
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  7. Eat balanced meals: When you eat at home you can create meals with a balance of protein, carbohydrates, and fat. Your body feels satisfied after a balanced meal, and this prevents late-night snacking.
  8. Bring your family together: Preparing meals at home can be a family activity. And teaching children how to cook is a skill they’ll use for their entire lives. If you’re single, you can host group dinners at your house or apartment, which gives you someone to cook for and an opportunity to try out new recipes.

Editor’s note: Read about more good reasons to have family dinner at home.