Recipe for boiling water:
- Pull out a pot – depending on how much water you may want a small or a big pot.
- Put water in the pot.
- Put pot on stove.
- Turn stove on, put it on high.
- Wait for water to boil.
Maybe you’re thinking I’m being silly explaining how to boil water, but there was a time I literally burned water. (Pro tip: putting water on to boil, sitting down for a few minutes with a book and looking up an hour later when you smell the pot scorching means you’re going to have to buy a new pot!)
When I first moved in with Mr. WPW I was an awful cook. My idea of cooking was getting one of those boxes from the store that had a can of filling and a bag of biscuit mix and putting that in the oven. The kitchen was just a place where the fridge held leftovers from the restaurants we got takeout from. Now I’m much better (I’ve even got my signature stuffing recipe for Thanksgiving and I make carrot cake from scratch), but it took a lot of practice and a lot of failures to get there! Mr. WPW deserves a medal as he NEVER turned up his nose at anything I cooked – even when *I* wouldn’t eat it! My point being – cooking may not come naturally or easily to you, but like any skill you CAN learn it with patience and practice.
If you can’t already cook, now is the time to learn! Why, you may ask, is being able to cook important? If you’re a prepper you can buy MREs or freeze-dried meals where you just add water. If you’ve got a family to feed you can just drive through McDonalds or pick up from your favorite Chinese place. Why bother learning to cook a variety of foods when it’s so easy to have someone else do the cooking for you? Why ruin the decor of your kitchen by actually using it? I’m so glad you asked, because here are several reasons why learning to cook is so critical.
Stored food doesn’t last.
That’s right. All your stuff won’t last and if things get really ugly you’re going to eventually have to start producing on your own. If you can’t cook when you have an electric stove in an air-conditioned kitchen with YouTube and Google at your fingertips should you have any questions, how will you manage cooking over a make-shift cook fire outside if the power is out long-term, like an EMP or a CME (coronal mass ejection, also known as a Carrington Event) may cause? Once the MREs run out and you’re down to your last packet of ramen noodles, you’re going to have to start cooking your own food. Learn now and you’ll be in a much better place should things every go south.
Food is cheap right now. I know, tell that to the mom of three who is trying to stretch a food budget so far it’s screaming for mercy. But it really is. It seems cheaper to buy your food pre-made, but if you do the math it’s not. If you buy in larger sizes you can get something like ground beef for around $2.99/lb or cheaper. Let’s say you go wild and get the pricier hamburger buns at about $3.50 for eight. Then you get a 5-lb bag of potatoes for $5. That’s actually about 10 servings of french fries. Two liters of soda, which is much more than four servings, are around $1. So for about $7 you can feed a family of four for the same price you’d pay for one quarter pounder with fries at McDonalds. It may take a little more time, but if you’re trying to save money, which makes more sense? (If you grow your own tomatoes, lettuce, and cucumbers for pickling, you even have your own toppings! Grow your own potatoes and you have free french fries.)
Does anyone NOT know how bad processed, fast food and restaurant food is for you? The preservatives, the high sodium content, the out-of-control portion sizes, and insane amounts of added sugar all contribute to our obesity epidemic and many other health issues. Making food from scratch in your own kitchen lets you control the ingredients. (Also helpful if you’re a terribly picky eater like some two-year-olds and some nearly-forty-year-olds like yours truly. If you hate a particular ingredient just leave it out!) You don’t have to add tons of salt, you can use high-quality, fresh ingredients, and you’ll be able to control your portion sizes.
It tastes better
It may not seem like it at first, but once you start to get a few dishes that you can do fairly well you’ll find that nothing quite holds up to homemade. Homemade bread is one of the true joys of life. Between the glorious smell as it bakes and the robust taste, homemade bread cannot be beat. Fry up your eggs for a homemade breakfast muffin and they won’t be rubbery and bland. Restaurants often let food dry out under warming lights or reheat frozen dishes to create on-demand food. When you cook your own food you are guaranteed hot, fresh, and just better-tasting food spiced to your own personal tastes.
Less food and time wasted
One of the things that is marvelous about cooking your own is leftovers. Yesterday’s taco meat becomes today’s sloppy joe. Leftover roast chicken becomes chicken and corn soup. And so on. Re-purposing leftovers is much easier when cooking from scratch because you have ingredients not a completed meal like when you get take out. You can plan to use extra ingredients in other ways for other meals. You can cook all at once and have multiple meals ready to go – this is especially great when you’re doing make-ahead/freezer meals. You’ll know what’s in your kitchen and what you can make.
Be able to cook what you grow
It’s wonderful to garden and grow your own food, but what do you do with your tomatoes, zucchini, or eggplant? If you don’t know how to cook your options are limited. You’ll see the fruits of your labors spoil on your kitchen counter. That’s depressing and makes it so you don’t want to put all the hard work in to do the garden the next year. Grow what you eat and eat what you grow!
It makes life nicer for your family (or really impresses your dates)
One way I express love for my husband is I cook for him. He likes it and it makes him feel cared for. I feel proud that I can see the results of all my hard work learning to cook, and that I can provide for my husband. Plus, it’s a heck of a selling point if you’re still mate-shopping (aka dating). Everyone loves having food cooked for them! Sitting down to a home-cooked meal is also a great way to bond. It’s a radical act these days to turn off the tv (and cell phone and iPad and Nintendo DS and…), gather around the table, and eat together. It’s something a lot of us don’t have time for very often, so it also can be a special treat.
It’s fun to work in the kitchen!
There is something very cool about assembling a meal from scratch. It’s somewhat akin to building something from scratch. (Although if you do it well, your results disappear a lot faster than a bookshelf or raised garden bed!) You start with a bunch of disparate items and through an incredible alchemy you suddenly have a nutritious, delicious meal. You can go easy and simple, or you can get very complex and fancy. The world is your oyster, if you can cook it!
You’re ready to run out and get your very own skillet for the kitchen now, right? If you’re new to cooking, what do you struggle with? For you veterans out there, what are your favorite tips and tricks?