Department of Health & Human Services
Premiers Active April

Delight with Dinner

Think once-a-week takeaway is a treat? Think again.

With the average Aussie dining out more than four times a week, our occasional ‘treat’ has become a regular occurrence. And it’s having an impact on our health and home life.


Our dinners are adding up

Did you know that, on average, we’re spending $70 a week at cafes, takeaway shops and restaurants? This might explain why recent stats show we consume more ‘junk food’ at dinner than any other time of day.

While eating out is a great way to socialise and try new food, the options available to us tend to be less healthy than what we’d have at home. They’re often higher in saturated fat and salt, and come in larger portions.

Cooking dinner for ourselves, on the other hand, means we can choose healthier ingredients, control our portion size, and spend a fraction of what it would cost in a restaurant.

Family dinner: more than just food


More and more studies show the many health benefits, both mental and physical, that come from sitting down to eat with family. Children, in particular benefit, with links to improved learning ability, increased fruit and vegetable intake, and a lower risk of obesity. Not to mention improved mood, reduced stress and better relationships with their parents. It’s also a great way to take a step back from the smartphones and connect with one another at the end of a busy day.

Healthier home-cooked alternatives

You can always whip up some homemade versions of your favourite pizza, burgers or fish and chips in a matter of minutes. Plus, you’ll save some kilojoules and coin.

Take away Try it yourself
Fish and chips Grill fish fillets and serve with lemon and homemade tartare sauce. Make your chips by slicing potatoes into 1cm thick pieces, lightly brush or spray with extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle with herbs and spices and roast in the oven.
Pizza Top a wholemeal pita bread base with lots of veggies, some lean meat (such as grilled chicken, cold lamb, prawns), and a sprinkle of reduced fat cheese. Include the kids by letting them choose what to put on their pizza.
Burgers Make your own patties with lean beef, lamb or chicken mince, mixed with an egg, breadcrumbs, chopped onion and mixed herbs. Add some veggies like beetroot, avocado, lettuce tomato or onion, and a slice of cheese, then squeeze it all in to a multigrain roll.
Wedges Slice a potato into wedges, lightly brush or spray with extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle with herbs and spices like rosemary or cumin, and bake in the oven. Try it with sweet potato, zucchini or eggplant.

Simple steps to healthier habits

  • If you’re not confident with cooking, watch some YouTube tutorials or try a cooking class;
  • cook with a friend or family member until you’re comfortable going solo;
  • encourage children and housemates to get involved in cooking too – it’s a vital life skill;
  • start your own veggie patch or herb garden for extra motivation to cook with your own produce;
  • put aside the money you haven’t spent on takeaway and see how fast it grows!

Tips to take away

Preparing dinner at home is an easy way to eat healthier, and save money. Start small with a few healthy habit swaps, and see how much better you and your wallet will feel!

Dinner recipes

Try some of our favourite dinner recipes below:

Everyday easy: Spaghetti with broccolini and cherry tomato

Vegetarian: Almond vegetable tagine

Our Nutritionist, Sophie’s pick: Dukkah crusted lamb with coriander and chilli yoghurt

And don’t forget to check our Healthy eating made easy page for more advice on a flexible eating plan, with your free food group tracker.


nutrition-australiaRecipe selected by Nutrition Australia Victorian Division. For more healthy recipes visit the Nutrition Australia website.


Last updated: November 28, 2016 at: 12:00 pm

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