When you think about your mom or dad, what comes to mind? For many people, there will be memories of foods she prepared during your childhood. It might not be anything special or fancy – my own favorite dish of my mother’s was a simple sloppy joe on a bun. I’ve never been able to duplicate it, and never tasted another version that tastes as good.

Whether or not your own mom or dad was a good cook, you’ll probably agree that homemade meals just taste better somehow. Even the culinary masterpieces of the world’s great chefs can’t match the comfort and enjoyment of sharing a good meal around the dining room table with family and friends.

In fact, there are lots of benefits to cooking at home more often. Here are 5:

1. Home-cooked is better for you. Studies, such as this one from the University of Washington School of Public Health, have shown that home-cooked meals are generally lower in calories, cooked using healthier methods (grilling and roasting as opposed to deep frying, for example), have smaller portion sizes and include fewer highly processed ingredients.

2. Home-cooked can be less expensive. While food prices across the board have been increasing, savvy cooks can use strategies to keep their food budgets in check, such as meal planning, buying in bulk, using coupons and buying on-sale items and using lower-cost substitutions for more expensive ingredients.

3. Home-cooked can save time. While a fast food meal or take-out might seem like the quickest way to dine, dinner at home can be even simpler and more efficient. A little planning, plus using strategies like make-ahead-and-freeze, one-skillet meals, slow cooker and electric pressure cooker dishes, can minimize the stress and time of meal preparation. Bonus: no wasted time waiting for a table or sitting in a drive-thru lane!

4. Homecooked builds your brainpower. Skills used in cooking, such as assembling and organizing ingredients, following a recipe and multi-tasking, give your brain cells a workout that improves your skills, strengthens your memory and spurs your creativity.

5. Home-cooked is family friendly. Research has demonstrated that eating together at home strengthens family bonds, improves communication skills and even decrease the likelihood of teens experimenting with drugs and participating in other risk and anti-social behaviors. Cooking together and enjoying a meal can offer a rare opportunity to reconnect, relax and share fun and meaningful moments.

These are just a few of the many reasons to give cooking at home more often a try. You may be surprised at how delicious life can be!

Looking for inspiration and ideas to make your home-cooked meals more flavorful and easy? Check out thousands of recipes here!