Just a Taste
Part of the fun of making meals at home is getting to nosh a little on the ingredients while you're cooking. Maybe you're cutting veggies and whip out the hummus for a quick snack. Before you know it, you've consumed half a tub. Of course, it's understandable that you need to periodically taste a meal while it's cooking. But keep them to a small taste, as all those bites can add up and you haven't even sat down to eat yet! In general, be mindful of how much you're snacking while cooking.
A Little of This, a Little of That
Cooking is like an art, and if you do it enough, you probably don't even use a recipe. While it's fun to pour, chop, and sprinkle to your heart's content, not measuring ingredients can mean extra calories, especially when using oil, cheese, cream, or sauces. Keep measuring spoons and cups handy instead of eyeballing so you know exactly what's going into your dish.
Adding Calories Where You Don't Need Them
Saving calories can be as easy as switching up how you normally cook. If you're used to sautéing your green beans in oil, steam them instead. Skip adding butter to veggies, pasta, whole grains, or bread, and flavor with garlic or other spices, salsa, or pureed roasted red peppers. Trade creamy dressings for vinaigrettes, sprinkle a little less cheese, and use skim milk in place of whole. These small changes may seem big at first, but your taste buds will quickly adjust.
Alcohol can be another enormous factor. While it's cheaper to open up a bottle of wine or pour yourself a cosmo at home, it's easy to keep on drinking all the way through dinner, and before you know it, you've polished off an entire bottle all on your own. Make sure you stick to the one-drink-a-day rule not only for your health but also for your waistline.
Family-style dinners translate to making tons of food, which means it's easy to go back for seconds and thirds. Just because there's more lasagna on the table doesn't mean you have to eat it. Divvy out portions and put leftovers away in the fridge immediately before sitting down to eat (if you leave them on the counter in the kitchen, it's too easy to grab more). Or better yet, pack them for tomorrow's lunch to cut down on temptation completely.
Not Having a Plan
You come home late, you're starving, and you haven't a clue what to make for dinner — talk about a recipe for disaster. Who can blame you for ripping into a bag of pretzels while you stare blankly at the fridge for something to make, which most likely will be something quick and not so healthy — grilled cheese is faster to whip up than a salad. On Sunday night, plan out your dinners for the week, hit the grocery store, and do prep work so even if you roll into your driveway right at dinnertime, you can quickly whip up a healthy meal and be sitting down to enjoy it within 15 minutes.