Eating out can be a fun experience: the ambiance of the location, the company of your dinner guests, and, of course, not having to clean up the after-dinner mess. However, meals prepared at restaurants usually incorporate more fats, sugars, and sodium than we would normally use when cooking for ourselves.
So cooking at home would lead to healthier meals, right? Not always. You can add too much oil, thus drowning your food in fats. Or you could end up accidentally giving yourself food poisoning by not properly preparing and cooking your ingredients. A study carried out by the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics revealed that many people don't like cooking at home. They feel they lack cooking skills and think it will be more expensive and takes too much of their time.
Is there a compromise? Yes, though it's not one that many would immediately consider. I'm talking about hiring a personal chef.
Coronavirus And The Rise Of Home Dining
Eating out at restaurants has taken on a whole new meaning because of the COVID-19 risk. There are pared-down menus, waitstaff wearing masks, and dining with a party larger than six people may be illegal. Even if you're dining with people you live with, you will also likely come into contact with others outside your household during the dining experience.
The CDC released a report that found that adults who tested positive for the coronavirus were two times more likely to have eaten out at a restaurant in the two weeks before they got sick. "Social distancing and disinfecting don't eliminate all risk," Dr. Donald Dumford, internal medicine specialist, shared with Health Essentials from Cleveland Clinic. "If someone coughs or laughs, they can exhale a cloud of virus. People are not wearing masks while eating, so there's a higher risk at a restaurant versus a place where everyone is masked at all times."
Such uncertainties have led many consumers to seek alternatives to eating out, including food pickup, carryout and delivery, at-home cooking, and hiring a personal chef.
Why You Should Consider A Personal Chef
Most people assume that having a personal chef prepare customized meals regularly is an extravagance that only celebrities can afford. However, if done right, personal chef services can save money, time (which is more money), and stress (which is money too in future psychological or medical expenses).
1. No more impulse buying. According to the USDA, 31% of the food supply goes uneaten, and consumers were responsible for wasting ⅔ of it. One of the many reasons for that waste is consumers buying more than they need, especially when grocery shopping. A lot of that food often ends up in the trash. A personal chef will buy groceries upon request and only buy what is necessary to prepare your meals.
2. Simplified weekly meal planning. Many consumers tend to overestimate how much food is required to feed themselves and their families. Personal chefs have the expertise needed to shop for quality ingredients wisely and frugally, and they're experts at meal preparation.
3. Less need to eat out or order takeout. Having a personal chef cook in your home means less food loaded with fats, sugars, excessive salts and preservatives, and healthier food options tailored to your dietary needs.
4. Save on time and money. Time not spent on planning, shopping, food prep, and cooking can instead be spent with family or just taking some time for yourself.
How Much Does It Cost To Hire A Personal Chef?
Let's say you have a family of four, and you eat out seven times a week (a couple of times for lunch and a few times for dinner). If your average meal price is $15 per person, plus tip, that works out to around $510. Let's also add the $250 you spent on a week's worth of groceries when you thought you'd have more time to cook. If you add the gas cost of driving to and from the restaurant, the time cost of the drive, waiting for the meal, and waiting for the check, you may realize you're spending a lot by eating out all the time.
A personal chef will charge you by the hour, by the serving or a flat rate based one the amount of food you would like. The average cost to hire a personal chef is between $50 to $70 per hour. This can vary considerably based on your location. The average price of hiring a personal chef to make about five meals for a family of four per week can be between $250 and $400. Not included in the cost are groceries. These can run anywhere between $100 to $200, depending on where you live and the meals you want.
Keep in mind that a personal chef who is trained in natural foods cooking will charge on the higher end. But working with a trained natural foods chef is like having your own personal nutritionist. They specialize in cooking vegan, raw foods, paleo and other specialty diets, whereas other personal chefs may not.
3 Tips For Hiring A Personal Chef
Looking for a personal chef can be a daunting task. Here are three tips to help you understand your options and help you make informed decisions as you do your research.
While it is essential to consider whether the chef has some form of culinary training, don't rule out a self-taught chef. It would be best if you looked out for a chef who has at least three client references that you can reach out to and get an idea of who you'll be working with.
2. Skills and Knowledge
Look for a chef who has the expertise and knowledge of cooking the types of foods that you need, whether you're a vegan, going gluten-free, or are starting a pescatarian diet. It would be best if you were confident that the person cooking for you can adhere to your dietary needs.
You want someone who will be professional and show up on time, do what they're supposed to do, and deliver as agreed. Hiring a chef through a reputable agency can help with the vetting process, as well as calling the references.
Note: With the knowledge I've gained from cooking for different personalities — including some big-name celebrities — I've created a useful guide where I share invaluable tips on hiring a personal chef. If you'd like a copy, click here.(Just scroll down the page a little and enter your name and email in the orange area to get the guide sent right to your email inbox.)
How To Hire A Personal Chef In 3 Simple Steps
Now that you know what to look out for when hiring a personal chef, here are four simple steps to follow.
1. Look at sample menus. This will provide insight into the personal chef's style of cooking. A sample menu is not always an indication that the chef will prepare only those types of foods.
2. Check out their food photos. Do the images look appetizing? How are the presentation skills? Food photos give you a sense of a chef's cooking style and are a preview of their work.
3. Review their résumé. A personal chef's résumé gives you a glimpse into their culinary career and their experience. Set up an interview and ask questions like their experience with certain dishes and their flexibility with different kinds of seasonings to suit your taste preferences. Discuss your budget and anything else you might think of.
4. Set a trial day. If the first three steps go well, it's time to set up a trial day, where the chef comes to your home and prepares a meal for you, and you get to find out how their food tastes. Before this happens, make sure you agree on the portions, buying of groceries, and if your kitchen has what they need to prepare the food.
Hiring a personal chef might be the most economical, time-saving, and healthiest decision you make for you and your family. I hope that the information I've shared will help you guide you on hiring the best personal chef for your home that fits your needs, budget, and palate.
And if you need help finding the right chef who specializes in natural foods cooking, let me know! Use the contact form on this page to get in touch. I love connecting health-conscious people with their dream personal chef!