Every once in a while, when I’m washing dishes for the fourteenth time that day, I wonder why I put SO MUCH WORK into food prep.
(I do love to cook, but I’m not always jolly about it).
I spend hours in the kitchen every day — wiping counters, washing dishes, toasting granola, kneading bread, whipping up dressing, slow-cooking meats, soaking beans, chopping vegetables, putting leftovers into single-serving containers, freezing broth. . . . It’s unbelievable how much time a person can spend in the kitchen preparing food for three people.
Sometimes, it’s friggin’ tiresome.
I can offer myself all kinds of highfalutin reasons for cooking from scratch. I can remind myself that it saves our family money so that we can afford to buy high-quality ingredients, and that eating whole foods improves health, it’s better for the planet, it’s an act of resistance against evil corporations, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
The trouble is, when my body aches from wearing my baby on my back for hours while I chop and clean and wipe and knead, those abstract, distant-sounding reasons don’t sound very compelling. Sure, eating healthy might prevent cancer and heart disease in some distant future, but I’m tired now. I’m bored with all this tedious work today, and I just want to sit down and watch some New Girl with my husband already. Why don’t I just buy some hot dogs?
In these moments, I have to remind myself that I cook from scratch for selfish reasons, too.
The truth is, when I eat food that I’ve made from scratch, I feel a helluva lot better. The effects are immediate and enduring.
When I eat homemade, healthy foods, I have more energy. My mood is better: my outlook on life is more optimistic. I feel strong and capable. I don’t easily get sick. My skin is clearer. I have less body odour.
Ever since I started cooking from scratch, I suffer from less depression, bloating, and acne. And when I remember to do my yoga routine, I swear I’m more limber and balanced when I’ve been eating well.
When I’m grumpy about having to do all that monotonous kitchen work, I have to remind myself that if I forgo all the slicing and mixing and fermenting and just order takeout, I will experience an immediate drop in energy, cheerfulness, and bowel efficiency.
I’m pretty sure all this work is good for my baby and husband, too, which also makes my life more pleasant.
When I look at it that way, all the extra time in the kitchen is totally worth it, just for me.
How about you? Have you experienced personal benefits from spending more time in the kitchen?