As far as I can remember, I’ve been a decent baker. When I was little, I would bake chocolate chip cookies with my parents and then sit on a step stool in front of the oven with the oven light on, just watching the little dough balls transform into soft cookies. The precision of measuring out ingredients and following the recipe appealed to the rule follower in me, and I loved how a homemade pie or pan of brownies could brighten someone’s day, take a load off a busy host at a dinner party, or delight my little cousins. Baking was amazing. Unfortunately, though, I just couldn’t enjoy cooking.
That skill just didn’t seem to carry over to cooking. While I made the occasional passable dish, there was one night in particular that was an absolute blunder. I remember making a healthy meal for my fiancé near the start of our relationship: cauliflower bread, some type of zucchini noodles, and banana chocolate squares. We each took one bite of each of the three “courses”, and then laughed the whole way to a restaurant for an edible dinner.
There was also the time, in my teens, when I thought it would be sweet to cook my parents an anniversary dinner. I banned them from the kitchen and prided myself on delivering their meals to the dining room myself, until I realized that I had inadvertently set an oven mitt on fire and all of a sudden I really DID need them in the kitchen. Let’s just say that was an anniversary they won’t soon forget.
Thankfully for everyone, a lot has changed and while I have no professional skills, I can now make a wide variety of edible (and often delicious!) dishes. This is thanks to a whole lot of practice, starting small, and trying a variety of dish types and approaches. (In fact, you can check out my tips for learning to cook here!) In the meantime, this post will focus on why to even bother, and why you’ll enjoy cooking once you start.
So, why cook in the first place?
Between complicated recipes, the time it takes to prepare and cook a meal, and the fact that the food is eaten so quickly, I used to wonder why anyone took the time to learn how to cook. Now that it’s become a big part of my life, it’s more obvious. Here are a few reasons to consider starting to cook.
1. It’s often healthier.
While you can make recipes similar to what you’d order at a restaurant (I’m looking at you, Chicken Parmesan!), when you cook your own meals you know and control exactly what’s in them, and how they’re prepared. You can adjust the quantities of ingredients to make a dish healthier, or just start from scratch with healthy recipes.
As an added bonus, you have greater control over portion size in terms of how much you serve each person, and you’re more likely to have leftovers anyways, so packing up the rest of your plate feels more natural.
2. It saves money.
Depending on the ingredients you use and the size of the recipe, cooking can save a lot of money. My fiancé and I used to both work downtown Toronto, where a food court lunch could easily cost $12 per day per person, or $500 per month combined. This adds up to a whopping $6,000 per year! Making our own lunches helps us offset much of that cost and also saves us the time and hassle of waiting in long lines.
Cooking has also saved us money on dining out at night. While we’ve never been big restaurant people, we do like to go out occasionally and a dinner out can easily cost $75 once you factor in an appetizer, main courses, drinks, tax, and tip. Instead, we try to eat at home as much as possible and add music and candles to make it feel more like date night.
3. It’s an excuse for quality time with the people you love.
Although cooking together sometimes leads to arguing (followed by a lot of laughs!), it’s never dull and my fiancé and I enjoy cooking together. It also makes food preparation way faster and more efficient!
4. It’s a creative outlet.
Much like baking, cooking engages the right side of the brain and can be a creative outlet. Tweaking recipes and playing with presentation are just two small examples of how you can flex your creative side.
5. It’s meditative.
When I’m making a dish I’m familiar with or working through a recipe step I know (like sautéing or stirring), I get into “the zone” and find myself concentrating on that one task alone, blocking out other thoughts. In this way, cooking is almost meditative – allowing me to spend some time free of distractions, worries, or to-do lists.
As I talk about in my book, there are huge benefits to meditation and the practice of getting still and being present can help boost confidence and positivity.
Are you convinced yet to give cooking a serious chance? There are so many good reasons to start building this skill. Check out my post on three easy ways to get started cooking!
In the meantime, leave me a comment below and let me know what you enjoy most about cooking or what you’re most looking forward to when it comes to making more of your own meals.
Until then, bon appetit!