One of my most cherished passions is cooking, and I can be in the kitchen for hours and hours, not noticing time past. It serves as a sort of meditation for me, and (most often) lovely food comes out in the end. Now I do not expect everyone to love cooking nor to do it every day, but in this post, I would like to explain why it is my honest belief that everyone should learn to cook a little bit. I mean beyond the extent of boiling pasta and frying an egg.
So why should you learn to cook? Well there are quite a few reasons to cook yourself in my opinion, here are some of them
- You understand seasons better
- You will get to understand food origins better (what ingredients it is made of)
- You save money
- You will learn that you may like things you did not know about
- Meal prep
- You might like it
Understanding the seasons better
When you go grocery shopping and go around the fruits and vegetables, you will realise that some of the shop’s inventory or quality changes. For example, it is pretty hard (depending on the region) to get fresh local strawberries in December; the same goes for other berries and fruits. Root vegetables like beets also come and go, particularly the pretty heritage (a.k.a rainbow) once most often is available in my area in mid-to-late autumn and until the end of March. One ingredient that is available all year round in my region is carrots. However, when they first are available, they are vibrant orange (unless you buy heritage versions) and so sweet. To me, it is almost candy. Later in autumn they will turn bigger, lose a bit of their flavour but still be really nice. Then in late January, they will turn sad, get soft, at least one in a 1 kilo pack will be rotten, and in general, they are just sad. You can still cook with them, but I think you should eat them raw at this stage.
Notice how I describe and know, and when the carrots change, it is the same for other ingredients. One I keep a sharp eye on is sellery, as I love them when they are crisp and (in my area) salty and later, they will go soft and sad, turning almost watery. By knowing this, I know what ingredients I should plan to use in my dishes and what alternatives I may need to look for. If you are a salad person who loves spinach, the latter often get sad in late October.
Additionally, this also tells you that if you go into a restaurant and they claim this locally grown
<Insert ingredient>, you have some idea if they are bullshitting you or not.
I have personally tried, where the waiter told me that I was having an outdoor grown freshly harvested spinach salad in late December, where we had a good solid two weeks of frost.
Understadning food origin better
Where does a bolognese come from? The jar? By making the food yourself, you will start to realise what ingredients go into a dish, and you will start to realise that it is flipping how much stuff is ready to eat. I am, personally, still confused about why some pasta sauces contain palm oil and curry in one very strange case. Additionally, you know what you put in your body, and you have higher control over it, which can (I do not promise anything) lead you to have a more healthy life. Reduced sodium intake is often a side effect of starting to cook yourself.
Additionally, when it comes to meat, I am honestly horrified at the number of people who have no clue where different cuts come from on an animal. First, knowing just a bit of animal anatomy can give hints about how to cook the meat. Tenderloin sees no work should be soft and tender (if it is not, something is wrong). It should be cooked carefully and not for that long. Hardworking muscles will be tough and need longer preparation time. Often these cuts are ideal for stews. See simple guidelines that make it easy to cook and if you have problems, remember to write it down, or like there are plenty of small books on this.
As you cook, you will realise that your knowledge grows and that it becomes easier to cook, almost with every meal. I have been cooking since I was 12, so like 21 years now, and I still feel like I am learning about ingredients every time I cook.
You save money
In most cases cooking yourself will save you money. That is the section. Compare the price of ready meals or eating out to the cost of cooking yourself, and you will see quite the difference. It is stupid how expensive some ready-to-eat meals are.
You will learn that you may like things you did not know about
One of the things I have done over the years while grocery shopping is to look at something unfamiliar and go, uh, that looks interesting and buy a small amount and taste it. That has taught me that things I either thought I did not like or things I did know what was is now some of my favourite ingredients. Sellery is an example of this. The school I went to destroyed the flavour of this for me for over a decade, and now because I know how to treat it, it is one of my favourite vegetables on stews.
Additionally, as I have gotten better at cooking, I have also started looking at more recipes, which has made me explore different food cultures from around the world. Which has allowed me to explore dishes I never knew and find new favourites.
So I do not do this much more because I get lunch at work. But as a student, I used to meal prep a lot on Sundays for a few reasons.
- Food in the canteen was expensive, and the skills of the chef were expensive
- The food in the mall close by was expensive as well
- I had food both for the evening and lunch if needed
- Less stress
Throughout college and university, I would spend Sundays doing homework, cleaning (yea, right) and preparing food for at least 4 out of the five weeks. I would cook some protein, mainly pork, chicken, or beef, for 2-3 days. I would cook one batch of rice and one of pasta. Then I would make two base dishes. Then for Monday, I would have rice and dish one, no protein, day two pasta dish two and protein and then mingle it around. This ensured I would not get bored with the food, and I could quickly bring it to the university and throw it into the microwave. It was, in short awesome, and I saved money. Additionally, I would cook enough to have enough rice and pasta for dinner as well, and I could throw together a quick salad, fix up a quick soup and mix rice or pasta through either. Also, if I had leftovers of dishes one and two, I would put them in the freezer for a rainy day when I did not have time to cook in the evening. It saved me a lot of money, gave me healthy food, and removed a lot of the stress.
You may like cooking
I know quite a few people who said, “Oh I do not like cooking”, or “It takes too long”. But after starting to cook, they first realised it does not take as much time as they thought and discovered that during cook time of stews and stuff, they could do homework, read, or play a video game. Then after some time, most of them would say, “huh, I actually like cooking now”. To be honest, all but one came back with a similar reaction.
So in conclusion, learn to cook.