Your Personal Chef: You

Cooking at home saves you money, tastes better than packaged and processed foods, and benefits your health. It gives you control over the ingredients you consume and helps you avoid those notoriously too-large portions dished up in restaurants.

cooking at homeA 2014 study showed that people who frequently cook at home eat healthier and eat less than those who don’t. The frequent meal makers in the study ate an average of 137 fewer calories, 3 fewer grams of fat, and 16 fewer grams of sugar per day than their my-oven-is-clean-because-I’ve-never-used-it counterparts. That doesn’t sound like a big difference—and if we were talking about one day, it wouldn’t be—but let’s expand that difference over a year’s time and see how the almost-daily and almost-never cooks shape up.

Calories: 137 calories is what you burn walking 1.3 miles. 137 calories per day times 365 days adds up to 4.9 pounds. That’s almost five pounds a year that chez-chefs save themselves.

Fat: 3 grams per day becomes 73 tablespoons after one year. That’s equal to 9 sticks of butter.

Sugar: 16 grams is equal to 4 teaspoons of extra sugar per day. That’s 30 cups of sugar per year! Butter, sugar… this is starting to sound like a giant batch of cookies which, by the way, are also better when made at home. (And you can sneak healthy stuff like flax seed into them.)

Cooking at home sounds great, Katie, but it also takes time and effort… two things I’m short on.

rookie-home-cook-woman-red-apron-home-kitchen-holding-cooking-pan-rolling-pin-sad-stress-confused-helpless-young-62985065Some women are novice cooks. They feel that boiling pasta stretches their culinary skills to the max. They use phrases like “Preheat? Is that like speed dial?” or “grilled cheese is gourmet”. Some women are ne’er-say-buy chefs who love to cook and can whip up a meal from scratch without breaking a sweat. They use phrases like “we’re out of mayonnaise, I need to make more”. Both women love their families dearly and want what’s best for them. Cooking at home is a spectrum of intensity and frequency and you do your best with the time and energy that you have.

If you are a what’s-a-whisk? cook, don’t despair! Anyone can learn to cook well with a little practice and a handful of good recipes. The trick is to keep it simple and start small. How do you get started? One dish at a time, just like the greatest chefs. Choose an easy recipe with only a few ingredients and steps.  Casseroles or chicken in the oven, pasta with steamed veggies, or soup are all easy dishes to conquer. As your repertoire grows, so will your confidence.

And yes, I realize that some women don’t cook because they hate it and that is a valid reason. I’d bet, though, that there are non-kitchen related things you do in life because it’s important, and not because you like it. Let cooking become one of those things. Start small: one or two meals a week. Or focus on vegetable sides to go with the takeout. Prep a salad (bagged salad kits count as cooking; stirring is cooking) or make some stir fry. Every little bit helps. Ask friends for their easiest recipes or their best freeze-friendly recipes so you can freeze half and get two meals for the effort of one. Cooking will grow on you for the simple reason that the food you cook will taste better and cost you less than most restaurants.

 

From the fruit of their lips people are filled with good things, and the work of their hands brings them reward. Proverbs 12:14 (NIV)

 

http://www.jhsph.edu/research/centers-and-institutes/johns-hopkins-center-for-a-livable-future/news-room/News-Releases/2014/Study-Suggests-Home-Cooking-Main-Ingredient-in-Healthier-Diet.html

 

Images courtesy of: woman.ng (woman cooking), http://www.dreamstime.com (woman with rolling pin)

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