8 Reasons You Should Cook Your Own Meals

Our primary financial goal in life is financial independence. And it’s not about accumulating money for the sake of accumulating money; it’s about reclaiming our time so we can spend it how we want, with our loved ones, and on things that truly matter.

One critical aspect of this journey is to maintain a healthy body and mind at all times. It’s not worth having financial freedom if it means sacrificing your health.

We don’t want to squander our health by eating low-quality meals in order to build our FI fund faster, only to have to spend our FI fund faster later to try to recover our health.

Is it really worth it to sacrifice healthy eating habits in order to save more money?

We are not willing to make that sacrifice. As a result, eating healthy and preparing our own meals is a top priority for us.

While there are some things in life that we cannot control, there are many more that we can. The food choices we make play a significant role in determining our health and preventing disease.

Our grocery bill

Our food budget is higher than that of some hard-core FI-minded households, despite being lower than that of the average household. There are several reasons for this, including:

  • We don’t buy processed foods and only use a small amount of canned goods because they contain preservatives.
  • We buy imported fruits like mangos and avocados, which are more expensive than locally grown produce.
  • The majority of our purchases are organic.
  • We buy high-quality products with real-food ingredients. For example, ketchup made solely of tomatoes and spices. We try to avoid products with more than five ingredients.
  • We avoid food that has been artificially colored. “Would you like some chocolates with paint on them? Thank you, but no.”
  • In addition to eating some meat and fish, we eat a well-balanced diet rich in vegetables, fruits, and grains. These items are rarely on sale or have discount coupons.

A long-term investment in our health

We don’t mind paying more for groceries because we see it as a long-term investment in our health.

We try to stay healthy by paying attention to what we put in our mouths (no naughty thoughts!). One way to accomplish this is to prepare our own meals. We are not strangers to preparing our own meals. It’s something our parents have done their whole lives.

My mother used to cook with raw ingredients because we didn’t have access to ready-made meals like we do in the United States. We lacked a freezer at home. We couldn’t afford to buy in large quantities. As a result, meals were prepared from scratch every day. Yummy!

Tatiana comes from a family where cooking at home was also necessary to make ends meet.

Going to restaurants was a treat for our families. While both of our mothers cooked at home out of necessity, growing up poor paid off. We ended up with lifestyles that put us on a healthy track, and now we’re just sticking with it.

Benefits you can reap by cooking your own meals

1. You learn a new skill

Cooking is an art form. It is not simply a matter of combining ingredients (although that works in many cases). You can learn a lot about how different dishes complement one another. When your partner leaves you alone, you can rely on yourself to feed yourself if you learn to cook.

It’s also a survival skill that could help you become a trendsetter! You can use it to prepare delicious healthy meals to help your family and friends eat healthier. Your spices will entice them, and they may want to try those dishes at home.

2. You save money

“But, José, buying ingredients at the grocery store is much more expensive than buying a pre-packaged meal or a Happy Meal.”

Are you comparing purchasing organic foods with eating at a fast-food restaurant?

Then, yes, McDonald’s would be less expensive. However, eating unhealthy for the rest of your life may result in much higher medical costs later in life.

Cooking at home saves money in both obvious and subtle ways. When you go out to eat, you must pay for transportation, service, ingredients, tips, and taxes. You can buy 2-3 pounds of wild-caught salmon for the price of an entree of farm-raised salmon. That salmon is enough to feed a family of five for several days. There is also no grocery tax.

By purchasing your own ingredients, you can save money on the rest of your dining-out expenses. Because restaurants are in the business of making money, there is always a surcharge. If your price comparison shows that eating out is less expensive than cooking the same meal at home, the quality of the restaurant food may be lower.

Don’t get us wrong: we’re not advocating that you never eat out.

When we need a break from cooking, we go out to eat. Sometimes it’s for a get-together with friends, and other times it’s to be inspired by new dishes we’d like to try at home. We spend more because we eat at restaurants that provide excellent service and meals prepared with high-quality ingredients. We place a premium on experience and quality.

3. The family comes together

Eating together at the table brings the family closer together. We don’t like reheating freshly cooked meals. There’s no microwave at home, so we eat as soon as a meal is ready.

We come together for meals, sit at the table like it’s the good old days, and make it a family activity.

4. You save time. Really!

The FI community recognises the value of time. Cooking at home, believe it or not, can save you time.

“But, José, cooking takes a long time.” I’d rather work than cook to save money.”

We’re not asking you to take a day off from work to prepare your meals.

Cooking time is probably time you would have spent watching TV or on social media otherwise.

It always takes time to get to your meal. Consider the time it takes you to get dressed, drive, find a seat, place your order, wait for your food, pay, and drive home from the restaurant. By the time you get home from the restaurant, you could have easily cooked and eaten a meal.

It’s one of the reasons we now make our own cream cheese salmon bagels on weekends. Our favorite bagel shop is in Philadelphia, which is a 35-minute drive from our house without traffic.

5. You improve your health by being able to choose your own ingredients

Most restaurants do not serve organic ingredients unless it is specifically stated on the menu. Restaurants, like any other business, will use any selling point to entice you to try their food. The absence of organic products, wild-caught seafood, or freshly squeezed orange juice indicates that they’re using regular ingredients and the juice is most likely from concentrate.

Another advantage of cooking is that you can control the amount of salt, trans fat, GMOs, and other disease-causing agents. You become more aware of which ingredients go into a dish when you cook it yourself. You can then choose which to reduce, eliminate, or substitute.

A favorite restaurant dish may no longer be your favorite after you try it at home and discover an excessive amount of an ingredient. You might even change it if you discover how much sodium, sugar, or another unhealthy ingredient is required to make it.

You wouldn’t put antifreeze in your car’s gas tank instead of gasoline. Shouldn’t you be able to tell what’s in your food and how it affects your body? After all, it is your most important engine!

Tatiana’s cat, Pushok, is also benefiting from our household’s efforts. Tatiana had the idea of doing more research on cat food last year. It was discovered that the pet food industry is just as notoriously outrageous as the human food industry. Pet food contains a lot of junk and fillers. She was surprised that Pushok had survived the first eight years of his life despite the poor quality of his food. Pushok now receives top-tier dry and canned food.

6. You have lunch for work the following day

Nothing is worse for us than arriving at work the next day without a lunch bag and having to rely on the cafeteria menu. It’s a happy day when we have our lunches packed because nothing beats the taste of our leftovers!

Dominican rice and beans with tunafish meatballs and asparagus

These are the envy of coworkers who feel sorry for themselves because they brought a PB&J sandwich or had to buy bland cafeteria food. You’ll have a delicious, healthy meal and won’t have to spend extra money at work if you pack your lunch!

7. You have better portion control

It’s always about quality over quantity for us. It’s not about how much macaroni and cheese you can stuff into your mouth for $5 or how many wings you can get for dirt cheap in that bucket. Eating something delectable is a healthy life pleasure that you should savor. You can measure your meals without worrying about having too much on your plate if you cook and serve them yourself.

8. You get exercise

Cooking can be a great form of exercise. To begin, you must walk around the supermarket while food shopping. Then you have to load and unload the car, bring the groceries inside, cook and serve the meal, and finally wash some dishes. That’s easily 500 calories burned without ever setting foot in a gym! Bring the groceries upstairs if you live in a multi-story building to burn even more calories!

What we eat is a lifestyle choice

We’re not big fans of going on fad diets. We base the majority of our diet on facts and research, and it’s a lifestyle choice for us. If we discover that something is bad for us, we eliminate it from our diet or limit our consumption to a minimum. It’s as simple as that.

We eat food that comes from the earth. We also try to avoid laboratory-created fake food. Food containing artificial coloring, wood pulp, or wax is strongly discouraged.

Did you know that many color additives were never tested for toxicity or other negative effects?

Homemade pizza!

We incorporate foods from other cultures and countries to supplement our diet with healthier options.

Tatiana insists to have exclusive access to the best restaurant in town, but it’s not listed on OpenTable. If you’re nice to her, she might extend you an invitation. While I am the head chef, she is an excellent sous chef when the occasion arises.

Salmon eggs benedict with homefries and avocado – made at home.

She claims that I ruined the majority of her favorite restaurants for her. She says that I take the best parts of some dishes and enhance them with our own flavor to make them even better. That is an accusation for which I am proud to accept responsibility.

How do your eating habits fit in with your financial goals? Are you eating for long-term health or for short-term savings?


After dedicating 13 years of his career to Vanguard, José retired from the corporate world at the young age of 44. During his tenure at Vanguard, he expertly coordinated the production of both electronic and print educational materials for 401(k) participants. Now, he relishes in his early retirement, cherishing time spent with his family, indulging in his favorite hobbies, seeking out new experiences, and savoring meals in the comfort of his own backyard.

View all posts by José →
0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
7 years ago

I’d love the Dominican spagetti recipe’

Gagan Kapoor
Gagan Kapoor
8 years ago

Would love to see some recipes. Look delicious.

8 years ago
Reply to  Gagan Kapoor

Thank you! The requests are starting to pour in. Hopefully we’ll get 3 more requests to start that section.

Bob ;)
Bob ;)
8 years ago

I would love some of those recipes…starting with the Dominican spices please 🙂

The images of the food looked so delicious, I want some now!

8 years ago
Reply to  Bob ;)

Great, and we have our first comment requesting the recipes! Once we get 4 more comments, we’ll start working on that. Sometimes we just need a little motivation… Thanks!

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x