The Secrets of Success: Get Cooking

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By: , SparkPeople Blogger
3/11/2010 6:00 AM   :  130 comments   :  40,359 Views

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There's no secret recipe when it comes to weight loss, no magic ingredient that will make the pounds melt away. Still, there are tips and tricks that help ease the process--and change lives forever. The weight-loss experts at SparkPeople (members who have reached their goals) told us how they did it, and now we're telling you. Until now, the 27 Secrets of Success could only be found in our best-selling book, The Spark. We're sharing 15 of those secrets here.

Secret #11: Get cooking.

Cooking healthy meals for yourself is the number-two nutrition strategy of successful members; 77 percent of them used this strategy to meet their goals.

Some of my earliest memories are of being in the kitchen with my mother and grandparents. I was stirring and mixing before I could reach the countertop, and in high school, my "chore" was making dinner. I'm quite lucky that my family recognized the importance of home-cooked meals, and that is a habit I've carried into adulthood. Dinner is never fancy, rarely complicated, and often rushed--poached eggs over steamed spinach and whole-grain toast is a busy weeknight meal--but it's always healthy.

You don't need a culinary degree or hours each night to cook a healthful dinner.

8 Tips to Help Kids Feel at Home in the Kitchen

Healthy Home Cooking with Chef Meg

Printable Cookbook: Slimmed-Down Restaurant Dishes

Low-Fat Versions of Your Favorite Recipes

Know someone who would like to learn more about the Secrets of Success? Spread the Spark by clicking the green "Share" button below.


No need to quiet on this anymore! Find the top 15 secrets here (a new one is posted every day), and to learn the rest of them--and how to fit them into your life, read The Spark.


Do you cook more since joining SparkPeople? Do you think that home cooking is healthier than restaurant food?


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Comments

  • 130
    I love to cook and would prefer it over a restaurant every time but time is my enemy with as busy as my schedule is. I have to be super organized to cook meals at home and sometimes that just doesn't happen. - 5/10/2010   11:20:15 AM
  • 129
    I LOVE cooking ! I've been cooking my own meals for years. I do think home cooking is much healthier than restaurant food. Less salt and fat for one thing. More reasonable portions for another.

    Although, I do enjoy eating out. I just don't do it every day. I think home cooking is better for me as well as more economical.

    - 3/19/2010   10:49:44 AM
  • SEXYSIZE_12
    128
    Cooking is best done at home so we can control what is in the food, I always cooked when I was much over weight. So the point for some is to re-learn to cook in a healthier way, which I have done and has helped me to lose 40 plus pounds. Before I would be in the kitchen over experimenting and using to much butter, fancy sauces and to much cheese. So cooking sometimes can be a bad thing, but not when done in the right way.

    I like this article, because it brings up the fact of cooking with family. Which is a good interaction time to bring the family close and also learn something healthy.

    And it's funny I never really liked cooking and I still don't but I love to eat, so it motivated me to get in the kitchen. Keep up the good work everyone :o) - 3/17/2010   1:45:39 PM
  • 127
    I always had excuses for why I did not cook more at home.
    1. I live alone
    2. I work 2 jobs
    3. No one taught me how to cook
    I have put away these excuses, and now I cook at least 3 nights a week and have leftovers on the other nights. It has made a huge difference in my pocketbook and cooking relaxes me after a long and stressful day. - 3/17/2010   10:28:22 AM
  • VANANDEL
    126
    I cook a lot more since coming to SparkPeople. I have tried out so many of the recipes and have learned how to adapt them and other recipes to be even more healthful. I also retired mid-2009, so now I have a lot more time to prepare meals. My husband, although not a member of SparkPeople, loves the foods I make and is delighted that I've branched out in my cooking. - 3/16/2010   11:54:20 PM
  • 125
    I find I have to cook more to know the fat and carbs in my food. - 3/16/2010   8:29:07 PM
  • MTKAMOM
    124
    I do cook at home more often, partly because it saves money, but also because I can keep meals a little healthier. That way when I do eat out occasionally, it's ok if I splurge a little since it only happens once in a while. - 3/16/2010   3:08:46 PM
  • 123
    I didn't love cooking until I started -- weird, isn't it? Now it's come to the point where I actually prefer my own cooking to restaurant cooking, unless I'm getting something really special. It's healthier and cheaper, anyway, so win-win! - 3/16/2010   1:21:50 PM
  • 4TMKDP
    122
    I don't love to cook, but I'm very blessed that my husband does! We try very hard to cook most meals at home and rarely bring home dinner and even more rarely go out to dinner. Things are tight right now so we have to be a bit more creative but we try to eat as healthy as our budget will allow. - 3/16/2010   12:51:46 PM
  • JUNGLEREBEL
    121
    I love to cook! I have always cooked from scratch and every day, even when I was alone. And my kids are going the same way: they love to experiment and try new recipes and enjoy the cooking. And the eating lol - 3/16/2010   2:48:40 AM
  • 120
    I am trying to cook at home more. It's too expensive to eat out often. I like being able to control my salt intake. I am trying to eat healthier. - 3/15/2010   8:17:44 PM
  • CANUCKSFAN2
    119
    I find a lot of recipes are geared towards families rather than people living on their own. There are no recipes that allow for a single dish, hence why I tend to eat out more than when I was living with my parents. Also cooking takes time away from things I would rather be doing and I simply don't like cooking nor have the money to so, as I am on a limited income. Vegetables and fruits are more expensive than prepared food in cans or packages, which tend to be geared towards individuals. - 3/15/2010   6:20:35 PM
  • 118
    I don't so much as cook more since joining SP but I do cook healthier. - 3/15/2010   1:15:12 PM
  • 117
    I cook a lot more since joining SP. As far as it being healthier than a restaurant, it depends on what you order; but then we don't always know the exact ingredients used when eating out like we do at home. - 3/15/2010   12:52:07 PM
  • 116
    I have been cooking more and I have been trying new things! I am so happy I found SparkPeople.com! - 3/15/2010   12:46:05 PM
  • 115
    It varies for me. I like cooking, but my boyfriend is very picky eater, so making things ahead in large quantities and freezing is not really a good option. The only exception is vegetable soup for some strange reason. He could eat that daily and not care... good for me! The other foods he tends to like involve much butter and the like. I will make whatever for him and then eat mainly the veggies and a salad if the calorie count is too high for me. The other thing I have found myself doing is saving my daily calories so that I can have dinner with him... it's all in the planning I guess. - 3/15/2010   11:28:37 AM
  • KAINE0812
    114
    I want to start cooking. I am going to make an effort to learn and try to cook more. :) - 3/15/2010   11:20:52 AM
  • BERTHAR
    113
    Most definitely healthier cooking meals at home. Been cooking since I was 10yrs old. Cooking is enjoyable and now my granddaughter at age 9 helps cook Sunday dinners..I must say she's better at baking cakes and cookies than I am. Cooking at home makes it easier to add more veggies when planning your meals. - 3/15/2010   9:01:53 AM
  • 112
    I've always loved cooking and do so almost every day. In Antigua, we have this tradition of cooking more than is needed so that we have something to offer 'If someone comes by'. What do you do with the extra if no one drops in? My problem was portion control and, thanks to Sparkpeople, I'm getting better at this. - 3/15/2010   7:58:56 AM
  • 111
    I find such great recipes on spark people. I definately cook more at home now and am enjoying it more. I like knowing just what is in my food. I love Spark People. Yeah! - 3/14/2010   9:39:00 PM
  • 110
    All animals learn what to eat from their mothers. Very few parents take time to teach children about nutrition-How sad is that.
    I once substituted in a home Economics class and was amazed the students were told to bring in a cake mix. I was raised in England and we were all taught scratch cooking back then. Now it is just the same as US prepared foods and convenient foods everywhere and a lot of people have no appreciation for home cooked meals any more. I taught my boys to cook and I am so glad I did. Pat in Maine - 3/14/2010   8:02:17 PM
  • 109
    Yes cooking at home are more healthy than eating out. A least you know what you put in your food. - 3/14/2010   6:58:13 PM
  • 108
    Our fami;y never really eats out, but I do cook a more healthy variety of foods and enjoy making family favorite dishes in a NEW healthier way!!! ThankX SP!!! - 3/14/2010   6:06:06 PM
  • 107
    I've always cooked the majority of my meals at home. It is definitely healthier because I control what and how much goes into everything. It is difficult to know what ingredients restaurants use - many veggies have sauces, foods are often deep fried or marinated. It is much easier to eat healthy at home but.... I haven't given up restaurants all together. It is a nice treat once in a while. - 3/14/2010   2:55:49 PM
  • 106
    We have eaten at home for years with little eating out. I have been in south TX. for the winter and the gals love to eatout as they are singles. I have mom eating more at home since I have arrived and she is eating healthier. When I return home we will continue to eat in with occasional outing. Love to make different things and then freeze some for later. - 3/14/2010   2:29:55 PM
  • 105
    My mom went back to work so the family dinner fell to me while I was in grade seven. The kitchen was well stocked, so the challenge was how to change up the meals and add variety. That's when I learned all about herbs and seasonings. We were not fans of salt or butter. We could control what went on our plate! - 3/14/2010   2:26:47 PM
  • DANAE22
    104
    Well said! I've been doing a great deal of cooking, much more than I used to before I joined SP. And this is so much more satisfying than the way I used to just grab a bite to eat! It's fun, too. - 3/14/2010   2:08:03 PM
  • 103
    Loved this article. Everyone in my household loves that we are cooking much healthier. They seem to like it even more now than before! - 3/14/2010   1:49:36 PM
  • GRAMMYAALICE
    102
    A FAVORITE RESTAURANT ON THE NEWPORT OREGON BAYFRONT IS THE NOODLE THEY WILL SPOIL YOU IF YOU ASK FOR VEGAN. THEY ALSO HAVE WHOLE GRAIN RICE AND BUCKWHEAT NOODLES. THE VEGE LOW MEIN IS GREAT! BUT I COOK A LOT AT HOME MY HERBS ARE DOING GREAT IN MY GREENHOUSE HOPE TO HAVE LOTS OF VEGE'S AND GREENS SOON. - 3/14/2010   1:28:14 PM
  • 101
    I never enjoyed cooking (or even knew how!) until I met my husband (who is an AMAZING cook!). Now, we cook together as a family and my children see cooking together as the norm. One really cool thing we have been doing since November is "Cooking Weekends" We get together for a weekend with my husband's sister and her husband and plan out 15-20 entrees and 8-10 side dishes. We buy the ingredients and cook ALL weekend. We portion out each dish label/date and prepare to freeze. We normally make enough food to last each family for 3 months!!!!! Now, we do have a large chest freezer that we use specifically for this purpose. But, we have found that it saves money, tastes amazing, is healthy, and convenient! It is totally worth the time put in for an entire weekend to have meals that last that long! :) - 3/14/2010   1:07:37 PM
  • NEED2LOSE45
    100
    We stopped going out to eat for the most part because my hubby and I are both dieting and tend to completely blow it when we go out to dinner....Yesterday we were out and did stop at McDonalds but we both got salads....still hi cal however.... - 3/14/2010   12:18:39 PM
  • 99
    I'm leaving restaurants alone, I can control my salt and fat much better. We eat out once a month with family and I make dessert. I can control that also; I take small portion and leave the rest for the kids (read adult kids). - 3/14/2010   12:04:53 PM
  • 98
    I absolutely agree. Like the author, I was required to start cooking in my family from an early age - from 13 years old and on, I cooked dinner at least once a week for my family of 6. Given we're a very "down home" midwestern farm family, our food certainly wasn't that of a health nut, but lots of veggies were at every meal and salads were present often. I am so thankful now for this - even though I don't yet have children, I cook at home most nights for me and DH, and since starting Spark, have been inspired to recreate many of my normal recipes into a healthier version. - 3/14/2010   11:23:38 AM
  • 97
    I do cook more. I know exactly what is in my meal when I eat at home. That's important. Where I still have trouble is shopping once a week, planning a week full of meals. - 3/14/2010   10:45:48 AM
  • 96
    Good ideas. Thanks. - 3/14/2010   9:56:45 AM
  • 95
    i use the recipes all the time!!!! i cook meals for a full week & freeze them...take them out & microwave them, & dinner is served!!!!!!!! - 3/14/2010   9:44:42 AM
  • WEIGH2BIG1
    94
    Actually, I have always enjoyed being in the kitchen. My biggest obstacle was having a meal ready on those nights when I came home just in time for dinner, and we were all ready to eat...RIGHT THEN. The habit I have picked up since starting SparkPeople is cooking 2 or 3 times a week. When I cook, I cook enough for lunch and dinner in the following days. That way, when we get home, dinner takes only the minutes required to heat, either with a counter-top oven or microwave. I have a friend who is single and faced with the same dilemma, coupled with the fact that it was daunting to get into the kitchen to make a healthy meal for one. As I cook, I am also packing portion-controlled meals for her to pick up. Normally, having someone lose 30 pounds eating your cooking isn't a ringing endorsement, but I'll take it! - 3/14/2010   8:41:06 AM
  • 93
    Preparing a plate of healthy, attractive, colorful food and enjoying it's goodness is a beautiful thing. - 3/14/2010   7:05:38 AM
  • MY1FRIEND
    92
    WHEN I WAS A KID,WE HAD A GARDEN, AND SO WE WOULD HAVE FOUR OR FIVE VEGETABLES AT EVERY DINNER. WE LOVED THEM, NOW KIDS HARDLY WANT TO EAT THEM. MOST OF THEM WILL EAT GREEN BEANS, CARROTS AND BROCCOLI WHICH IS SO BORING, NO WONDER THEY GET TIRED OF THEM. WHAT HAPPENED TO LIMA BEANS, FIELD PEAS AND SQUASH AND ALL SORTS OF GREENS? - 3/14/2010   12:50:38 AM
  • GALATIMARYELLEN
    91
    Since I have been home on sick leave we have been cooking at home and I have done well with my calories. The couple of times we have gone out to eat I have gone of my calories. I need to make time to cook at home even when I go back to work. Great article and so true. - 3/13/2010   9:58:36 PM
  • MIMI602
    90
    Yes, I cook at home. I think you can control your portions, eat healthier and save alot of money. We rarely eat out anymore unless it is a very special occasion. - 3/13/2010   4:24:59 PM
  • 89
    Yes, I have started making more home cooked meals than I ever did! I have even tried my hand at baking biscuts!! Need more practice on that but the biscuts were edible!! I enjoy trying out new recipes now! My husband is in shock! - 3/13/2010   1:28:57 PM
  • LQUEST4754
    88
    Yes, it is healthier! Plus, you can buy premium ingredients from the store for less than what some greasy old burger meal would cost! Check it out.

    You might be able to find some dollar menu thing for less. Most of us don't buy that when we go to a restaurant or fast food place. We usually buy a bigger meal.

    I can buy a service meat stuffed chicken breast, organic carrots or other high end vegetable and a potato for less than a combo at Wendy's or any premium fast food combination meal.

    Many meals require a bit of time to cook rather than constant attention. Just pop something in the oven and do som necessary stuff around your home.

    Restaurants and food processors have managed to brainwash us into thinking that we don't have time to cook our own food. It just isn't so. - 3/13/2010   10:55:58 AM
  • 87
    I cook all the time.. I would rather eat at home than go out. I am constantly making homemade soup and freezing it for my lunches..I also make all my own stocks. This is an enjoyment for me and I also stock up my mother in-law. - 3/13/2010   9:11:37 AM
  • 86
    I cook a little bit more but for sure am cooking much healthier - 3/12/2010   9:03:37 PM
  • MISSBOMB
    85
    Yes,I cook more sparkrecipes,yes home cooking is better then eating out. - 3/12/2010   8:27:11 PM
  • JESAK327
    84
    It really helps to be open to trying new things. I love to cook and am always on the look out for healthy meals. Some my family love, others we choose to toss the recipe! - 3/12/2010   6:38:52 PM
  • 83
    I find that I have more control over how much I eat when I cook at home. I am able to fix my plate and put the rest up right away for the next meal. When I eat out I tend to eat the whole thing becasue it is there in front of me and looks/taste so good!! LOL! I think in my mind that I will take half of this home which I do but it never seems to make it to the next meal. So now I eat at home unless I go out to eat with some friends. - 3/12/2010   4:41:52 PM
  • 82
    My home cooking is definitly better than eating out. I prepare lots of crockpot meals and make plenty to freeze. I use fresh produce when available. I buy my meat from a local butcher who sells only organic foods. I also choose to cook vegetarian at least 2 times a week if not 3 or 4. - 3/12/2010   2:07:25 PM
  • 81
    No I have always cooked from scratch but... I use more vegetables. I use less or no fat. I use leaner cuts of meat. I use less processed meats. I make more soups from scratch. I make more salads and stir fries.
    Now I am trying to have more tofu and vegetarian meals. - 3/12/2010   12:23:42 PM

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