Are you still cooking meals at home? How many meals do you think you have made in your life? I have easily made more than 12,000 meals for my family, friends, guests, and to take to potluck suppers.

That’s a lot of cooking, and it only includes evening meals. Many times, I make breakfast, lunch, and supper. I enjoy cooking (and eating), so I don’t mind making a meal, especially if someone will be joining me to eat the food.

I must admit that if I’m eating alone, I prepare a simpler meal than if I’m making food for others. One reason for this choice is, it’s harder to make an interesting meal with only one serving than it is to cook a larger quantity for a family.

Of course, you could always go with a grilled pork chop, baked potato, and steamed vegetable, but that meal gets old, doesn’t it?

Do you often think, “Why don’t I just order take-out food when I’m eating alone?” Or do you, like I sometimes do, simply eat oatmeal or a fried egg?

There are many reasons that I choose to cook at home, rather than eating at a restaurant or calling in a take-out order. One reason is that I like to cook, but that’s not the only reason.

I am a recipe blogger at Recipe Idea Shop, where I focus on tasty family recipes with a healthy twist. Each recipe includes a nutrition label and simple instructions. However, most recipes serve four or more.

A few people have asked me to add a special focus on cooking for one or two, and I have done that.

Here are seven reasons I choose to make daily meals at home.

A Friendly Budget

Making meals at home is less expensive than eating in most restaurants. Nutritious, home-cooked meals can cost as little as a dollar. For instance, in season, you can purchase a green pepper, onion, tomato and a small spaghetti squash for around $4.

Combining these ingredients with spices you have on hand will make a delicious, healthful meal. Moreover, you will have enough leftovers for at least three more meals, which can be frozen in one-serving size containers for future lunches or suppers.

A bag of lentils, a small onion, and a can of diced tomatoes along with a few spices makes a wonderful lentil soup. Add a diced apple to the soup and you have an entirely different flavor. Lentil soup costs less than a dollar a serving and freezes well.

Watching the Waist

When you eat at a restaurant, it’s hard to know how many calories, how much fat and how much sugar, etc., you are eating. Typical U.S. restaurants use plenty of oil, thickeners such as flour, and high-fat, high-salt, high-sugar foods in their menu items.

There are seldom nutrition labels available, and the typical serving size is at least double what one individual should eat. Recently, I asked for a nutrition chart for a smoothie I was considering and found that the one that interested me contained over 600 calories!

Better Quality Food

When you cook at home, you can control the quality of the ingredients and the amount of salt, sugar and fat you include in a recipe. I choose to cook with the best fresh, whole ingredients I can afford.

I also try to avoid fruits and vegetables treated with pesticides and animal products filled with antibiotics. Also, when you start fresh and organic, you avoid all those food additives with names you can’t pronounce.

Improved Nutrition

Many restaurants, especially the ones that offer low-cost meals, use a lot of processed foods, salt, sugar and fat to make their recipes taste good. I have found that the more processed foods and sugar I eat, the more I crave them. Do you find you crave foods that are bad for you, too?

Better Health

Eating high-fat, high-salt, high-sugar meals can spike your blood sugar, increase your blood pressure and negatively affect your health.

My health dramatically improved when I started reading nutrition labels, avoiding processed foods and concentrating on whole foods. I was surprised to find that I no longer crave snacks and sweets, and that I feel more satisfied after I eat.

Taps Creativity

Watermelon Olive Mint SaladOne of the things I like about making meals at home is trying new recipes and making them look pretty. I love to eat a variety of colors, textures and flavors in my meals. Trying new combinations of spices is delightful and makes me feel creative.

One of my favorite new recipes is Watermelon Olive Mint Salad. I think the addition of Kalamata olives to a Middle Eastern Watermelon Mint Salad with Feta is inspiring.

Social Interaction

Eating is a social activity to me. I love to make food, eat food, share food and talk about food. If no one is available to eat with me, I read cookbooks or research new recipes on the Internet. I savor the meals I eat, whether I am the cook or someone else. What do you do when you eat alone?

Do you enjoy cooking at home? Do you have a favorite recipe that is a standby for you? Please share your inspiring recipes!