How to Reduce Calories by Preparing Meals at Home

How to Reduce Calories by Preparing Meals at Home

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Make vegetables a main part of every meal.

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Preparing your meals at home could be your new secret to weight-loss success. Controlling and tracking your calories is extremely difficult if you eat out a lot, so by switching to preparing your meals at home, you make it far easier to manage your intake. As much as you try to be good at restaurants, it's often just too tempting to turn down those dishes you know you should avoid. Cooking at home, however, allows you to make those important calorie-saving switches and keep you on track to a lighter, leaner physique.


Base your meals around vegetables. According to the United States Department of Agriculture's MyPlate guidelines, vegetables should make up slightly more than a quarter of your dinner plate. Restaurants usually offer fat- and carb-packed sides such as fries, mashed potatoes or onion rings, which won't do your calorie intake any good. Stick to low-calorie vegetables, such as zucchini, peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and mushrooms, as side dishes when cooking food at home. If you want a treat, make baked sweet potato fries, sweet potato mash with no butter or cream added or macaroni and cheese with whole-grain pasta and reduced-fat cheese.


Switch to extra lean cuts of meat, or use poultry instead of red meat, advises Opting for lower-fat protein sources cuts your fat and calorie intake. The bonus of eating at home is that you control exactly what meat you have, meaning you can make the lowest-calorie choice possible.


Execute portion control, particularly on fatty foods. A serving of fat is roughly one eighth of an avocado, 1 tablespoon of oil, seeds or mayonnaise or a teaspoon of butter or margarine, according to the Cleveland Clinic. When eating out, it's difficult to gauge portion sizes and even when you're trying to be good, it's often just too tempting to eat everything you're served. At home, you need only make as much as you need.


Use your hands to determine your serving of carbohydrates and starches, advises nutritionist Ryan Andrews. Men should have no more than two cupped handfuls of carb-based foods at each meal, and women should have one cupped handful.


Grill, bake or oven-roast foods rather than frying wherever possible. If you do need to fry something, use as little oil as needed. You might be able to ask for food to be prepared in a specific way at restaurants, but it can be a little awkward doing this, so use cooking at home as an opportunity to cook foods in the most diet-friendly way.


Stock up on herbs and spices to add flavor to your food. Store-bought sauces, condiments and salad dressings are usually packed full of calories by way of added sugar and fat, so stick with low-calorie homemade options.


  • Consult your doctor before making any dietary changes.


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