Cook your own food

I enjoy cooking. After I transformed my diet, I began caring a lot more about how our food is prepared. So, I’ve become the primary cook in our house, mostly to my wife’s delight. She still does the baking. The precision and linear nature of baking appeals to her, and I love the improvisation and intuitive approach of cooking. We are a good match.

My mom could whip up a great dinner almost effortlessly, putting a hearty home made meal on the table without much planning. I took for granted that everyone’s home was regularly filled with the aromas of home cooked meals. I realize now that most people do not cook. I suppose it seems hard or mysterious or just not worth the effort. But I’ve found it to be simple and satisfying.

It is nice to know exactly what you are eating and that is was prepared by a human you know and love and not by a corporation. You will eat healthier if you cook for yourself. The unhealthiest food is hard to make on your own. Deep frying? Hard. Twinkies? Give that a go in your kitchen. You want some cookies? Baking a batch from scratch takes a lot more time and effort than opening a pack of Oreos and will make eating cookies a rare splurge instead of a daily treat. Ice cream? Homemade is such a delight, but also not something you would do every day.

“Cooking is probably the most important thing you can do to improve your diet. What matters most is not any particular nutrient, or even any particular food: it’s the act of cooking itself. People who cook eat a healthier diet without giving it a thought. It’s the collapse of home cooking that led directly to the obesity epidemic.” –Michael Pollan

Yes, cooking is healthier, but it also can be a joyful, soul-satisfying daily task. I don’t often have much to show for a day’s work at the office. The output is hard to see, hard to measure, as it is for most of us today. Working with ideas and people has its merits, but working with your hands and making something tangible is primally satisfying. So, instead of seeing cooking as a chore when I get home, I get excited to make something, to use sharp knives and fresh ingredients and make a meal that delights and satisfies. I don’t even mind cleaning up after the meal.

I don’t do anything too complicated. I’m no chef, and you don’t have to go to culinary school to make good food. It’s so easy to sautee a pork chop in a skillet and lay some fresh green beans in a sheet pan for roasting. A whole roast chicken coming out of the oven on a cold winter night is a sensory pleasure that takes very little skill or effort. Baked sweet potato fries with coconut oil… so good and so simple to make.

If you’re not cooking at all now, just try cooking one or two dinners a week to get started. And, instead of cereal or a bagel for breakfast, try scrambling some eggs. It only takes a couple of minutes more to have a hot breakfast.

My treasured cutting board

You just need a decent knife and some basic tools to get started. When you go to the grocery store, shop the perimeter of the store, where the fresh produce and meat are, and avoid the center aisles which are filled mostly with packaged, processed foods. Search online for recipe ideas. Ask your family and friends for favorite recipes. Watch cooking shows. I’ve learned a lot from watching America’s Test Kitchen, especially. Here are some great tips from Becoming Minimalist on how to enjoy cooking.

The more you cook, the better you’ll get at it and the more your friends and family who don’t cook will think you’re some sort of fantastic culinary wizard.

Cook your own food, for your health and for your happiness. Enjoy the making as well as the eating.

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