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Cooking at home - why is it such a chore for so many?

Mon, 2 July, 2018

Is not cooking the next stage of evolution? The caveman had to go out, hunt and gather whether he liked it or not, otherwise he’d starve. Now a lot of us hardly cook or not at all because food is less precious and eating out more affordable – is that the future?

Not cooking is not a new thing: Victorian mews houses often didn’t have kitchens being the pied-à-terres of gentlemen in the city on business; but then gentlemen were not renowned for their cooking talents those days. Inns and taverns prospered along the travelling routes, as clearly only the poorest would put a crust of bread and a rind of cheese in their pockets for the journey. And discrimination used to be about food as people hurt other people where it hurts – preventing them from cooking their food, like the renaissance European Jews banned from the use of bakeries’ ovens.

Why does it seem such a chore to so many? Surely not because they can’t do it well: people generally don’t do things well and keep on doing them (how many lousy drivers have you encountered only last week?). The thing with cooking though is that the badly done thing has to be consumed by its creator while driving, working, talking even has the main impact on others.

joybynature

Image Source: Culture cheese mag

Cooking at home, as opposed to takeaways, ready meals and eating out, is cheaper, constitutes a healthier diet and limits the waste. The last point mainly because you’ll appreciate more what you have produced as well as know exactly wheat went into the food and how much it cost. If you are good at it, it’s as creative as any other skill. It cements family life and gives a positive model to children.

I had to live on takeouts for a few months a couple of years ago when a building project in my house was going ahead. I had no kitchen; I had a kettle and a microwave in the front room perched on a stack of boxes and crates. At first I quite looked forward to it: like a lot of us secretly enjoy rare junk food, I was excited about consuming all that salt and sugar in processed food. But after a few meals I found they were incredibly samey - you simply couldn’t tell the difference between various ready pasta meals and the Chinese noodles turned out not that different from Thai when delivered to my home. I longed for scrambled eggs and cheese on toast, and even eating out in decent restaurants was not all it’s made out to be.

Time is of essence, but also merely an excuse. I know I’ll sound smug now but I used to commute to London every day and managed to cook a meal from scratch or almost, every night. Not a three-courser, but a basic meat, fish, salad or pasta dish doesn’t on average take longer than half an hour to an hour to prepare. Yes, you’ll eat marginally later than a Subway at six but cheaper healthier and more often than not – tastier.

There are so many props and hacks around to help and motivate: Jamie’s 5 minutes (purely as an inspiration); Hello Fresh! recipe sets, CookWell boxes, Cookpad app; YouTube and meal plans on Instagram – and blogs. Mine in particular.

Starting once or twice a week may work, to see how it goes. I have not mentioned the ‘O’ word but cooking at home and getting kids used to home cooking, quite simply is a major step towards curbing obesity which – as I wailed recently – is reaching truly catastrophic proportions in the UK.

 

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