I wrote last time about my son’s plan to give me cooking lessons and his probing about why I stopped cooking years ago. If cooking is so important why would I have quit after learning the basic skills? It’s a good question and has stimulated enough thought for several posts.
While I was an undergrad at the University of Tennessee, I became the cook for my roommate and other friends nearby. They helped pay for food and I developed several good basic recipes (with my mom’s help): Spaghetti, Ham fried rice and other stir fried dishes, pinto beans, Mac and cheese and corn bread (cost 30 cents/person), some chicken dishes etc…. After completing UT Knoxville, my roommate and I both went to UT’s medical school in Memphis. He asked me if I would keep cooking, but I never got around to it and over the years pretty much lost the skill. So why didn’t I continue? First and foremost, I didn’t think I had time. After a full day of classes and studying in the evening, I didn’t want to plan and prepare an evening meal. But more than that, I didn’t want to have to grocery shop.
The motive for cooking simply wasn’t strong enough with the only obvious advantage being better food at a cheaper price. At that time, I was clueless about nutrition (which med school did nothing to remedy) and it never occurred to me that cooking allowed healthier eating. If I had understood the effects of unhealthy eating in terms of lack of energy, brain fog and even low mood, I would have been far more motivated to continue. So, please be aware that I understand the difficulties of cooking and do not make light of them.
A recent newspaper article, in reaction to numerous reports about the fabulous effects of home cooked family meals, argued that the added stress of cooking is, for many, a net negative for their health. I’m sure that is true for some folks, but if a few techniques of efficiency are learned, I’ll argue that the benefits are so large that in most cases it’s well worth it. More on that next time.