The definition of cooking has changed in recent years. Is reheating a can of soup cooking? How about putting a frozen pizza in the oven? Or making mac&cheese from a box? I suppose technically, yes, you are “cooking” the food, however, our grandmothers would not recognize this as “cooking”.
I truly believe we all need to learn how to cook. Each and every one of us.
Feeding ourselves with healthy food is crucial to our well-being and survival.
- We need to know where our food comes from.
- We need to know what’s in our food. (This is a huge problem today – have you read the ingredients on a prepared food package recently? Yikes.)
We need to be able to tailor food to our tastes.
And we need food that won’t cost us an exorbitant amount.
It all comes down to cooking.
5 reasons why you should cook more
I could write an entire post on each one of these reasons, but just as a quick overview…
- You know exactly what’s in it: When you cook food yourself, using Real Ingredients, you know exactly what you’re eating. You can make substitutions to tailor your diet. You can include more Good Stuff (fresh fruit and veg, organic meat, healthy fats etc…) and less Scary Stuff (preservatives, high fructose corn syrup, artificial colors and flavors etc…). And for those who don’t know, Real Ingredients are those things that your grandmother would recognize as food and ingredients. (For more on this topic, I encourage everyone to read In Defence of Food by Michael Pollan.) And because you control what’s in the food that you’re eating…
- It’s healthier: Food you cook yourself from fresh ingredients is going to be healthier. You’re not going to add any of that Scary Stuff. You don’t need to. The food you cook yourself you will eat within the next few days, or freeze for later, you don’t need to make it shelf-stable. Also, you’ll cook things using fresh ingredients that you can prepare in a reasonable amount of time. Ok, once in awhile you might go to the effort to dig out the deep fat fryer, or bake a 3 layer cake, but that takes so much effort that you’ll only do this on a special occasion. And that’s important, because those are special occasion foods. And a major problem when we buy all premade foods is that we can buy these unhealthy special occasion foods all the time!
- Save money: If you cook your own food with real ingredients (“from scratch”), you’ll be buying staples for your pantry. Ok, the initial stocking of your pantry will cost a little more, but these basics last a long time. The other ingredients you’ll need you can buy in large quantities or in generic brands. Things like flour, rice, beans, sugar, pasta… Then just supplement weekly with a trip to your local market for fresh fruit, veg and meat. [This also helps you eat more like a French person, which I’ll be posting about soon.]
- It’s better for the environment: Cooking your own food, and buying predominately staples and fresh, in-season produce is going to lessen your impact on the environment. Pre-packaged foods are often shipped long distances several times (from field to processing plant to packaging to supermarket), loaded with artificial ingredients, and wrapped in multiple layers of paper, plastic or styrofoam packaging. When you buy fresh real ingredients, you have less packaging in the first place, and generate less waste to throw away.
- Become more self-sufficient: Learning to cook is a skill that you can always use, no matter what happens. You’ll always know how to feed yourself. At the very least, with a well stocked pantry and some cooking skills, you’ll be able to go on even when all of the stores and roads are closed from a big storm. Knowing how to feed ourselves is a basic survival skill, and if you don’t already know how to cook, you’ll be amazed at how good it feels to be able to produce tasty food from basic ingredients.
So, how do I start cooking?
Many of us learned to cook gradually throughout our childhood by watching our mothers, fathers and relatives. But what if you didn’t have someone to watch? What if you never learned? Or what if, in our increasingly busy lives, you’ve just pushed cooking out of your daily schedule. How can you relearn?
Make it a priority. Do it everyday.
We spend time on the things that are important to us. So make cooking a priority. Cook a little something, or take action towards your cooking (like visiting a farmers market, or finding a new recipe) everyday.
If you are interested in learning to cook, leave a comment or send me an email. I am working on some ideas about how to get more people cooking.
What keeps you cooking? How did you learn?