breakfast cooking Dinner Health Healthy Eating Holiday Menu planning Professional Retail strategy Supermarket

Shopping and Cooking and Cleaning, Oh My!

Time is money. How we spend it impacts our health, too. Do the math and see how your equation adds up.

egg-944495_640Do you find yourself in the kitchen and grocery store more often around the holidays, anticipating the fun and creation of old family favorites and trying some new recipes, too? It seems to me that if we could capture the magic we feel in the culinary space at this time of year all the time, we’d probably be spending our time differently – in a good way – caring for ourselves through foods we choose.

If you think about it, how we spend our time really helps define how we burn calories and manage weight. For me, summers are about the garden – I don’t hire someone to do it, I do it myself. Dragging those full yard bags around that have a 50-pound limit? Yes, I can do that. Same for housework and cooking. I like it.  There’s something about the uss-harry-truman-80393_640simplicity (and importance!) of keeping the house clean and going through the process. A dear friend and colleague of mine were working on a major project years ago, and as we’d start our meetings, we’d talk about how an idea came to us while mopping the floor – and sometimes while cleaning the toilet. Boom! A good idea out of nowhere.

We hear about how sitting is not so great for us, yet we do more of it. meeting-1015591_640If you hate to go to the gym, perhaps it’s a motivator to take stock of how you spend your normal day and see if there isn’t a way to squeeze in some calorie burning by taking on some tasks yourself. You may be like me and find that you enjoy it – maybe not the actual task (seriously, does anyone enjoy cleaning a toilet?), but the mental clarity and satisfaction that comes when the chores are done.

Think this won’t work? Have a peek at this chart to see just how many more calories you’d burn if you shopped and cooked for yourself instead of standing in line to order.

Oh – and if you wonder why a heavier person can burn more calories in the same time frame, there are a few reasons for this. Metabolism is a pretty amazing thing. Long story short? Think of gas mileage in a car. It can range from say, 10 miles per gallon to over 40.  For the same distance.  It’s kind of like that – lots of variables come into play.

What sounds like an easy way for you to integrate activity in your day? Start now – the holiday food fest is a fantastic time to find new ways of spending time in a more active steps-1081909_640fashion to burn off some extra party food calories.  And as for the gym or working out at home? Yep, I’m a fan of that, too. Having options for activity is one way I keep it from getting monotonous.

Go get ‘em.


  Examples of Calories Burned in 30 minutes
Activity 155-pound person 185-pound person
Sleeping 23 28
Standing in Line 47 56
Sitting in Meetings 60 72
Cooking 93 111
Food Shopping (with cart) 130 155
Heavy Cleaning 167 200


 Additional Resources

Calculate calories burned:

Calorie swaps:


By Kim Kirchherr

I am a dietitian working in food and fiber (agriculture) through retail, addressing opportunities to make things better for people and planet.