I have been cooking at home a lot more. Usually I cook a lot but end up eating 2-3 meals out a week - like a bagel stop for breakfast and a favorite (healthy lowfat vegetarian but salty) Mexican meal for dinner. At the last checkup I noticed my blood pressure had risen - usually it is 90/60 but it had gone up to 112/80 on a few visits and that bothered me. The staff exclaimed it is good but I have read and edited Dr. Jay's Salt Toxicity Article for more than 10 years and I know it should not rise at all with age if you eat right. I am now 47 and my mom has high blood pressure so I know I have to be careful.
Anyway, I decided we would not eat out for a while and every time someone in the house says eat out I say no. I have wonderful low-sodium pizza shells, low-fat/low-sodium ravioli, no-added-salt pasta sauce, salad, fruit, rice and many other speedy meal ingredients on hand so their request is met with a delicious meal idea that can be made faster than going out so they say okay. I have noticed that now that we are out of that habit there are fewer requests. PLUS before dashing out the door, I take a snack with me - I always think ahead about the timing and where we are going.
I really do cook without salt.
But more importantly I buy no-added-salt EVERYTHING! I would say that most of the time if an item has more mg of sodium than calories then it doesn't come in the door.
For grains I use bulk oatmeal, rice, pasta (NO salty box mixes!) and try to choose bread that is lower in sodium (bread is more of an emergency eating on the go item - not a daily staple). Pizza shells are Mama Mia found here in FL and they are low in sodium otherwise I would make them. I don't buy tortillas unless they are low in sodium. Grain foods are a big contributor to sodium in the diet as are canned foods and frozen meals.
Protein items include beans, lentils, canned beans without added salt, chicken without salt (some is injected with brine and high in salt), tuna without added salt and fish. There is no sushi, breaded items or deli meat in our house.
Fruits and vegetables abound - our deli drawer is filled with fruits including apples, pears, raisins, dried cranberries, dried pineapple (for stir fry dishes and salads), apple/grape packs, oranges, grapefruits, lemons and limes. The salad drawer always has lettuce and other salad fixings and the veggie drawer is filled with potatoes, sweet potatoes and more veggies in season.
For dairy the only items I use are low in fat or sodium. They often include: lowfat, light yogurt, soymilk, fat free half and half and low sodium farmer's cheese for the pizza. Sometimes we use Parmesan very sparingly. Cheese is very salty and high in saturated fat.
I also keep nuts on hand to top salads and fruits.
The result for this week? BP = 90/60
We recently finished a DVD called 25 Ingredients, 15 Different Meals and the savings on 6 of the chicken meals were amazing!
Restaurant per person for 6 meals: $69.95 and 3340 calories (that is roughly $11.65 and 556 calories each)
Home per person for 6 meals: $6.05 and 1488 calories (that is roughly $1.01 and 256 calories each)
So, for 6 meals per person at home you save 63.90 and 1852 calories in one week! Not to mention the nutrient quality - you get a lot more benefits for a lot less money when you cook at home. Amazing!