Some of you may be asking this question: Why should I learn to cook? It takes time. It takes money. It means I have to go to the grocery store. It takes practice. I have so little free time in my life – why should I spend time every day, or a few days a week, working in the kitchen? It’s so much easier just to eat out or order take-out.
If you’ve had these thoughts, or others like them, I want you to know something: You’re not wrong. These are legitimate questions. But I believe that, despite some of the trepidation you might have about getting started in the kitchen, there are a lot of good reasons why you should make the leap. Here are a few of them:
Reason #1: Cooking is an Expression of Love.
One of my all time favorite food quotes is by renowned activist and author Cesar Chavez who said “If you really want to make a friend, go to someone’s house and eat with them… the people who give you their food give you their heart.” In my experience – both in the kitchen and in life – I have found very few things to be more true. When you invite someone into your home and cook for them (or go to their house – either way) you are bringing important things to the table.
If you really want to make a friend, go to someone’s house and eat with him… the people who give you their food give you their heart.
Reason #2: Cooking is Cool.
What’s that you say? You don’t think cooking is cool? Well, it is. What I mean by this is that cooking is sexy; cooking is attractive; cooking is admirable. Being able to cook shows that you have the discipline and the means to learn to do something well. Cooking is an art form, like learning to play the guitar. It requires patience and practice to develop the skill. It doesn’t happen over night. Like all forms of art, cooking is a form of self-expression that can by enjoyed by both the artist and those who take the time to appreciate the artwork. Not long ago, it used to be that an apron or a chef’s coat was a symbol of servitude – something that indicated that someone was lower class – but those days are over. Today, the apron and the chef’s coat symbolize the same kind of thing as the guitar or the paintbrush.
Another thing – Speaking of learning to play the guitar: Cooking is also like learning to play the guitar in that learning to strum a few basic chords won’t take you that long but will take you a lifetime to master. But you don’t need to be a master to entertain and improve the quality of life for a few people around you – you just need to learn some basic chords and go from there. Once you learn just a few basics, a whole new world is opened up to you and it is actually a lot of fun.
I know, adulting is hard. But as Anthony Bourdain points out, in an ideal society, everyone would be able to cook one or two things well and be able to feed themselves and a few other people.
In an ideal society, everyone over 12 should be able to cook a few basic things reasonably well. They should be able to feed themselves and a few friends, if called to do so, both as a kindness, and as a basic life skill.
I’m not talking about being able to whip up a gourmet meal for 12 people at the drop of a hat – I just happen to agree with Bourdain that everyone should know how to cook pasta, grill and rest a steak, roast a chicken, make an omelette – or at least make scrambled eggs and toast without burning either one. Bottom line here? Cooking teaches us a modicum of self-reliance, a trait that is all too often left by the wayside in our instant-microwave-amazon-easy-is-best society. Learning to cook demonstrates that you have the ability to do something for yourself.
Reason #4: Cooking is Healthy
Learning to cook for yourself gives you control over what you choose to put in your own body. If you are always eating out, you really don’t know exactly what it is you are putting into your body. Fresh ingredients from the grocery store are definitely healthier for you than whatever crap that is they serve at McDonald’s – and it’s probably healthier than what you would be served at a higher end restaurant. But just as important as the ingredients themselves is that you get to choose exactly what you are consuming. Even if you choose to make recipes that call for a lot of butter and cream, chances are you’re using less of it than you would inadvertently get while eating out.
People tell me that one of the reasons they don’t want to cook at home is because the food they make at home doesn’t taste as good as restaurant food. I assure you, once you practice just a little bit, you will begin to turn things out of your kitchen that taste as good as or better than most restaurants, and your body and your taste buds will thank you.
Reason #5: Cooking at Home Saves Money
It is true that if your kitchen is like that of Old Mother Hubbard (i.e., completely bare) you’re going to need to spend some money up front to get the basic gear you will need. But the start-up cost of a basic, functional home kitchen is nothing compared to the amount of money you will save in the long run. You will probably make your money back in a month’s time.
Consider the recipes in this blog; most of them, if you’re willing to do just a little bit of comparison shopping, will cost you in the four-to-six dollar range per plate. I’ll admit: on my way to work the other day I was in a rush, so I stopped by the drive-thru at McDonald’s. I got some chicken nuggets, some fries, and a diet coke. Total cost: $7.54. To feed four people that would be a total cost of $30.16. With an hour’s worth of work and a visit to the grocery store, I can feed a house of four people for half that AND have leftovers. Plus, what I make at home won’t poison anyone and isn’t crap.
Let me explain. No, there is too much… Let me sum up.
Whatever it is that is holding you back from getting started in the kitchen – those obstacles are possible to overcome. That’s why this blog exists. If you have questions, don’t know where to start or would like some encouragement, please feel free to contact me. Learning to cook is worth your time, and your friends, your family and your own body will be the better for it.