Home-made meals are the absolute foundation of what we do at Food St. Food St was founded in 2015 after recognising just how difficult it was becoming for Australian families to put healthy meals on the table. With two parents working full time the new norm in Australia, coming home from a long day at the office and having to drum up a healthy, nutritious meal for the family is exhausting just to think about.
Instead of weekends being about family time and relaxing, they are increasingly being taken over by catching up on laundry and household chores, meal planning, grocery shopping and preparing meals. It’s no wonder families are feeling increasing guilt about spending time with their loved ones, and turning to convenience meal options.
In fact, Australians are spending $2.6 billion every year on food and drink delivery apps such as Menulog, UberEats and Deliveroo. Takeaway sales grew by 18 per cent in just three years, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
Convenience meals solve a lot of problems for busy families, so why do we focus so much on home-made meals?
There are so many benefits of home-cooking, which have totally shaped our values as a business.
The most important reason we love home made meals is that they are healthier. Commercial cooking is all about sales, so naturally a takeaway store or restaurant is going to be driven by making meals enjoyable. Only recently has the pressure been put on takeaway stores like McDonalds to even let consumers know how many calories and other nutrients are in a meal.
Instead, commercial stores are driven to add flavour enhancers like sugar, salt and fats to keep customers coming back for more. Did you know McDonald's fries have 19 ingredients in them?!
Restaurants will also use less healthy cooking methods for speed and efficiency. For example, something you might oven bake at home will be deep fried in a takeaway store for quick service.
When you break down the nutrition of takeaway meals, it couldn’t be more clear. The same recipes to recreate your favourite takeaway meals are often a quarter of the calories.
Here’s a breakdown from Healthy Food Guide of common takeaway items:
For most of those meals, you can recreate your own version at home for a fraction of the calories. For just a few examples:
Home made recipe: 2432 Kj
Home made recipe: 1611kJ
Home made recipe: 2035 kJ
Original: 4432 kJ
Home made recipe: 2521 kJ
And those recipes are without deliberately trying to make them healthier. You can improve even further with healthy swaps, like having a grilled chicken and vegetable burger, or making a carrot noodle pad thai.
Many of us go straight from the supermarket to start cooking in the kitchen, meaning the produce you’re cooking with is almost as fresh as you can get. Even better if you’re buying straight from the farmer’s market.
Compare that to a takeaway store or restaurant that may just have to compromise quality. With rent to pay and budgets to meet, smart business owners will be looking for the lowest price, and making their produce last as long as possible.
Other ways restaurants and fast food operators save money and increase their profits is by buying pre-made and processed ingredients. Processed meals have added preservatives, stabilisers, fillers and flavour enhancers to keep them shelf stable. While some preservatives have been linked to illnesses and food sensitivities, the biggest problem in food processing is that it strips foods of nutritional value, so you have to eat more to stay full.
Many processed meals have been stripped of fiber, which is essential to help us feel full, keep our gut healthy, and balance out the effect refined carbohydrates have on our blood sugar levels. This means you’ll be hungry much faster, and end up overeating.
And if we’re talking junk food like chips and cookies, many are chemically altered to make you want to eat even more of them.
As with using processed ingredients and lower quality ingredients, restaurants and takeaway stores also rationalise ingredients to keep profit margins healthy. Having less protein (like meat) and adding fillers to bulk out meals is common practice. Have you ever eaten a meat pie and wondered if there was any actual meat in there?
While we’re living in a convenience age where TV dinners are common place, research shows that eating meals together as a family is better for mental health and that regularly eating home-cooked meals as a family is linked to healthier and happier kids, and teens who are less likely to use alcohol, drugs, or cigarettes. Eating home-cooked meals five or more days a week is even associated with a longer life.
It’s not just within the family, either. Communal meals can also make us feel happier outside of meal times, as social connections reinforced over meals can help cultivate a sense of belonging, and even reduce symptoms of depression.
One of the ways many of us, no matter our cultural background, connect socially is by sharing our cultural knowledge and history as we pass on recipes through generations, and share our favourite meals with friends.
Cooking at home allows you to control your portions, whereas eating out often comes with huge serving sizes (reviews are just as important currency for food businesses!) The problem is, that when food is in front of you, you’re much more likely to eat it!
A lot of restaurants and takeaway stores order in produce from very far away - increasing the emissions along the supply chain. Cooking at home allows you to buy local. You’ll also be wasting a lot less food than a restaurant who needs to maintain constant stock to be able to serve dishes, which often results in high levels of wastage.
At Food St, we know that busy lifestyles mean that cooking fresh meals every night isn’t always realistic. Despite knowing full well the benefits of home cooking, even we go to restaurants and get treat meals from time to time. But for regular weeknight meals, our goal is to provide an option for families and households to get all the benefits of home cooking. This means:
We live by our values by connecting you with cooks from your local community who love to cook and giving them a platform to share their meals.
We work closely with all cooks to ensure they are making high quality meals in the right proportions, with great ingredients and that their recipes are healthy, wholesome and don’t have any added nasties.
Our cooks come from all cultures and walks of life, and are all working with Food St out of a passion for their craft, to share their favourite recipes that have been shared by generations and with a genuine love of making people happy through their food.
And that’s what Food St is all about!
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Balancing work, managing a household, social lives, health and wellbeing can feel overwhelming, but there are plenty of small things you can do to make your time efficient, and get back a few of those hours! Here are our favourite tips and recommendations from the Food St Community.
As a guide:
Protein per serve = 150 - 200g
Total Weight per serve = 300 - 400g
Anything less than these weights are tagged as "LIGHT MEALS"
To help you decide on portion sizing:
|1 Adult||1 Serving|
|2 Adults||2 Servings|
|2 Adults & 2 Children under 10||3 Servings|
|2 Adults, 1 Child under 10 and 1 Older Child||3 Servings|