UNITED STATES—Our lives are so busy nowadays it seems the time we spend in the kitchen to prepare meals has significantly decreased and that is not a good thing people. Unfortunately, I have fallen into that group of people more inclined to eat out than to cook a meal, and it’s not healthy or wise. We get into this zone of wanting something so quick, so fast and right away, that we turn to eating out or grabbing fast food, instead of spending some time in the kitchen to craft up a meal that comes from the heart.

Why is this? We have become that programmed nation, where we want things right away; our level of patience has decreased. To add onto that, we’ve gotten more and more fast food restaurants that are offering better meal deals than ever before. I mean nowadays for under $5 places like McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Taco Bell, Subway, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Checkers, Popeye’s and a host of others are offering meal deals that are a steal.

I used to be a massive proponent that fast food was so bad because you’d be immediately hungry again after eating. I mean in less than an hour or so, you’d want something else, and considering you just scarfed down a few hundred, if not a thousand plus calories, you should not want to eat again. I think that’s why it’s called fast food, because as quickly as it disappears, you’re ready for another snack right away.

I’ve discovered two things in recent months: when you cook at home you tend to get full a lot quicker than eating fast food, and you save a lot more money. Both are valid points that would make most happy. Who wants to waste money or spend unnecessary money? Many like to think that oh, $5 here and there is no big deal, but it adds up so quickly people.

Imagine if you’re eating fast food 2-3 times a day, and multiply that by the number of days during the week that you indulge. Not only are you placing your health at risk, but you’re also dwindling funds that you can use for other things. Fast food does not offer a ton of options people; you can only eat McDonald’s so many times before you’re over it.

When it comes to a home cooked meal, the time it takes to craft the meal tends to have an impact on the appetite. Trust me, I totally get why people hate cooking at home. You have to deal with the heat in the kitchen, the prep work and then the clean-up. Those three things alone, will make most people say “Screw it, let’s eat out.” For me, my biggest gripe is the actual prep work. If it’s a meal that takes a lot of prep work, it tends to wear me down, but I’ve learned to try to do things in stages.

What does that mean? When I’m ready to cook, I don’t start everything at once. I know what I plan to cook for the day and then maybe a few hours earlier in the day I start some prep work so when I’m ready to cook, I’m not spending 30-45 minutes assembling materials, opening cans, and chopping veggies or items for a dish. Also, cooking should not be placed in the hands of only 1 person. Multiple people should be involved. People kids love to cook! You don’t have to have them chop items let them dump ingredients into the bowl or mix items. The more engaging you make cooking, the more likely it’s to carry weight with them as they get older.

I’m taking the pledge for the next week, I might even aim for 2 weeks to not eat out and cook at home. My goal is to do 2 things: see how much money I save, and see how quickly I get full from a home cooked meal compared to a fast food quickie as we’d like to call it. With the fall season upon us, it’s definitely likely a ton more cooking will take place in the home now that the summer heat is beyond us. However, we need to make it a trend to cook more at home in general.