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Develop cooking skills for yourself and for the whole family

Take This Action Commit to this action for yourself to help overcome the obesity epidemic.

Individuals who learn how to cook when they are young are more likely to continue to do so as adults43.

Young adults who prepared food often reported eating fast food less often and were more likely to eat a healthy diet44.

In the past three decades we have seen an increase in the proportion of calories children obtain from fast food, convenience food, and other foods away from home, but most of the calories we eat still come from the home environment45. Preparing foods at home is a great opportunity to eat well, save money, and spend time together. When children are involved in food preparation, they may be more likely to try what's being served.

Let's Get Cooking

  • Prepare in advance:
    • Keep healthy pantry and freezer staples to help pull meals together quickly. Frozen vegetables can make it possible to assemble a stir-fry in no time.
    • Learn cooking skills- cooking is not a spectator sport.
      • Cooking programs can help provide recipe ideas and even demonstrate some skills, but the only way to really learn how to cook is to put on an apron and step into the kitchen.
    • Start simple.
      • If you're used to buying frozen pizza, try buying pizza dough and adding sauce, veggies, and a little cheese.
    • Buy a cookbook known for simple recipes.
      • Always read the whole recipe before you start. Assembling the ingredients will save time AND remind you of anything that you might not have in hand before you start.
    • Get friends to share recipes.
      • Invite friends over for a demo-dinner. Get groceries together and learn to master one simple recipe at a time.
    • Think about ways to make half your plate fruits and/or vegetables and include whole grains when planning your meals.
  • In the kitchen:
    • Wash your hands before handling food - always.
    • Follow food safety best practices.
      • Clean surfaces; separate food to avoid contamination; use a food thermometer to cook to the proper temperature; refrigerate cooked foods promptly; keep raw meat on the bottom shelf, separate from other foods; and avoid counter-top defrosting techniques.
    • Be mindful of portion sizes when serving food.
    • Involve your children, when possible.
      • Younger children can use scissors to trim salad greens, herbs and scallions into little pieces. Kids can also help wash and peel vegetables, grate cheese or veggies; and as they get older, measure ingredients, and helping to stir the pan or pot.
Read the Disclaimer

The information included on this site is for educational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice.


The percentage of the average Americans' food budget spent on foods away from home has increased since the 1970s. Foods consumed away from home tend to be higher in calories and lower in nutritional quality than foods prepared at home.