Cooking isn’t reserved for professional chefs or hobbyists; it’s a life skill and everyone should know how to cook. I’m not saying that cooking is all rainbows and unicorn kisses. It can be tedious, unsuccessful and a bit of a drag if you have to do it every day. But so is sitting in traffic, doing laundry and paying bills (and those don’t result in something you can eat!). I’ve had my share of days when I don’t feel like cooking or I don’t know what to make (but I cook anyway) and made my share of inedible and oh-my-goodness-this-is-awful dishes. That’s all part of the process of cooking. Cooking is like a Patronus. It’s not going to be a fantastic-I-feel-alive experience that perhaps we think it should be, but it keeps you healthy (or protects you from Dementors), humble and really thankful for when you DO have those types of experiences.
So, if that wasn’t convincing, here’s a couple reasons why you should cook (most) of your meals.
1. Cooking at home is usually cheaper per serving. Check this out. Especially if you’ve mastered reason number 2.
2. Cooking at home teaches Jedi-like budgeting skills. One of my life markers is my weekly grocery bill.
If I can stay within my budget for food, somehow the rest of my life seems to work out pretty well. I believe that if you’re diligent enough with your food budget that naturally carries over to other areas of your spending. Food shopping has taught me prudence and the difference between “wants” and “needs.” (which is probably part of the reason so many Americans are in debt…)
3. When you cook at home, using whole ingredients and minimal amounts of processed foods, the meals contain less salt, preservatives and other gooky stuff that you don’t need to be ingesting.
4. Contrary to popular belief, not that much time is saved by using prepackaged meals vs. cooking from scratch (at least for a family). UCLA did a study that found that families spent 52 minutes on the average on cooking dinner. Those that used mostly prepackaged foods only saved about 10 minutes. Are those extra 10 minutes worth the money saved and the (potential) health benefits of using canned vegetables instead of fresh worth it?
5. Cooking inspires creativity. What if you don’t have the exact ingredients a receipe calls for? Can you make substitutions? (story of my cooking life. So many times I have a recepie and well, the result is nothing at all what it was originally.) I think it’s fun. Don’t have ground beef and peppers for the tacos? What about fish and sliced zucchini? Or, no pineapple for the pineapple upside down cake… apples work just as well (not that I would know anything about that). Cooking can be an adventure and supremely satisfying when you manage to create something delicious despite circumstances.
6. Cooking teaches how to budget time and think quickly under pressure. Whoops! The rice is about to boil over, the meat is nearing it’s burning point and the veggies are about to go from crisp and deliscious to soggy and unappetizing. What do you do? (this is where being a Jedi pays large dividends.)
Cooking, quickly and successfully, requires that you know how to budget time (start the vegetables a bit later and start the rice sooner) so that everything doesn’t come to the critical point all at once. And if it does, experience will teach you how to get out of those situations without ruining the meal.
Cooking is certainly a skill. A LIFE skill and everyone needs to know how to do it. (even you fellas out there.) The best way to get good at cooking? Practice. You’ll have plenty of screw-ups, blunders and awful meals, but that’s all part of the process. Stick to it like cake in a pan without Pam and you’ll become a kitchen whiz before you know it! Not only that, but you might even have a bit of fun in the process.