Confident home cooking

12 Ways Cooking Can Improve Your Life

by Nick

Since I’ve started Macheesmo, a lot of people ask me questions about how I find time to cook, why I cook, and why I like it. I sat down and started brainstorming reasons over the weekend while I watched the Giants stink up the field.

I also posted this question on Twitter: What are the ways cooking improves your life?

Hopefully, these twelve reasons will convince you to get in the kitchen.

The knowledge of what you are eating. The only way to surely know what is going into a dish that you are eating is to cook it yourself. If you order something from a restaurant you might have a very good idea, but restaurants aren’t always thorough when listing ingredients.

Even though processed foods, for example Hot Pockets, list all their ingredients on the package, I don’t know what half of them are and probably don’t want to know. The only real way to know what you are eating is to make it.

Portion control. This was one answer to the question I posted on Twitter. @RyanViers posted that portion control was his reason for cooking. This made perfect sense once I thought about it. If I’m at a restaurant I tend to eat everything on my plate and leftovers from my girlfriend’s plate. If I’m at home, I do the same. At least when I’m at home, I can control how much is on the plate. (Note that this might be a bad thing if you have poor self-control.)

Save your money. This is one of the classic reasons to cook and it is still true. It is vastly cheaper to cook your own meals than to go out. If you are on a budget or trying to get on a budget, there is no better start than at the market.

Represent. Another response I got on Twitter had to do with representing a certain culture. @KenWheaton says he enjoys telling non-Cajuns how Cajun cooking should be. It clearly gives him pleasure to know that type of food well enough to show others how to make it. I actually wish I had this, but I really can’t say that I can adequately represent a “culture.” I don’t think I know any one type of cuisine that well.

Make friends. Want to know a good way to make friends? Bring a stack of homemade chocolate chip cookies into the office. Or show someone how to make really killer popcorn.

Get close to Mom. I spent some time over the holidays cooking with my Mom and it was such a great way to catch up. Obviously it doesn’t have to be with Mom. Grilling with Dad or baking with Grandma are also very acceptable.

Lose some weight. I’ll let you in on a little secret. You know one way restaurants make their food taste SO delicious: butter, salt, and other fats. Lots of them. And they don’t have to list calories on the menu. Nuff said.

Variety variety. A lot of times I hear people complain that they don’t like to cook because they are sick of the same things. This is utterly baffling to me. There is a finite number of dishes you can order from restaurants, but by combining different ingredients there is practically an infinite number of dishes you can make at home. Cooking can bring tons of variety to your meals.

Save time. If saving time is a priority for you, then cooking can help. You just have to be mindful of what you cook. You want to focus on dishes that make a lot and are very good the next few days. Try this, this, or how about this?

Teach your kids. I don’t have kids, but if I did I would cook with them. Seems like a really good way to bond and teach them a life skill early on.

De-stress. Some people consider cooking to be a stressful activity, but it doesn’t have to be. Just relax. Have a glass of wine and make some food at your leisure. I think you will find that you will feel better after a home-cooked meal.

Survival. If ever there was a zombie attack, cooking your own food would be essential. Take out and delivery services would not function in a zombie economy.

What are some of the reason why you cook, or why you don’t?

Very funny photo by Bucky Schwarz.