Although a vast amount of research shows that cooking and preparing more meals at home is a key habit for successful weight management and optimal health, Americans, on average, still spend nearly 42% of their food budget away from home. This is because we are leading fast paced lives due to work, soccer practices, deadlines, etc. Many times, this results in a quick order at the drive-through or a dial-up for delivered pizza. Unfortunately, studies also show that eating out just one time a week may lead to a 2 pound weight gain per year.
Foods cooked away from home tend to contain higher amounts of fat and calories while being lower in nutritional quality than foods cooked at home; however, with a little planning, your favorite go-to take-out or restaurant foods can be made at home for a fraction of the cost. In addition, because you are able to control the quality and variety of ingredients, your home cooked versions can be made more nutritious. Believe it or not for many recipes, using whole grains, low sodium, and no added sugar products/ingredients still results in very tasty products. Cooking more meals at home can even be a family goal. If you have kids, include them in menu planning and meal preparation. Depending on their ages, they can assist with a wide range of tasks, such as assembling lunches for the next day or washing fruits and vegetables. Research shows that children who help with cooking and meal preparation are more likely to consume fruits and vegetables, and they are more aware of the importance of making healthier food choices. Make meals and memories together. Aim to decrease the number of meals that you eat away from home by 1/4th and then 1/3rd to improve overall health and manage weight.
For about the same amount of time and effort it takes to order carry-out or delivery, you can make tasty, less expensive, and more nutritious pizzas at home. This meal solution features a Greek pizza using a prebaked whole wheat crust, served alongside a piece of your favorite fruit. Kick your feet up while your pizza is baking and relax. You don’t even have to worry about why the pizza delivery person is late. You are in control.
1)Preheat oven to 425. While the oven is preheating, peel and thinly slice 1 medium, red onion.
2)Heat 1 tbsp. olive oil over medium heat in a skillet. Once the oil is heated, cook the onions until they are tender, and set aside.
3)Remove 2- 12 inch premade pizza crusts from their packaging and place on baking sheets.
4)On each crust, spread ¼ cup of prepared pesto sauce. Leave the outer ¼ inch of the crust free.
5)Drain and quarter 2- 6 oz. cans of artichoke hearts, and evenly distribute the hearts between the 2 crusts. Repeat this process with 1- 12.5 oz. can of chicken breast that has been drained and flaked.
6)Drain 2- 2.5 oz. cans of black olive slices. Top each pizza with the slices.
7)Sprinkle 1/4 cup of feta cheese on each pizza and place the pizzas in the oven. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until the crusts are golden brown.
8)Slice each pizza into 4 even pieces.
9)Serve each plate with 1 slice of pizza and a large piece of your favorite fresh fruit.
Freeze the leftovers in single servings for a quick grab and go lunch entrée.