The Magic of Cooking – What I Love About Creating a Meal
Food has always been an important part of my family’s rituals.
In our first home, I remember the funny-coloured green kitchen with the old-fashioned free-standing stove. Mom used to stand to the left of the stove to do her food prep. It was there that I had my first glimpse into the world of cooking. Mom's peanut butter cookies were always one of my favourites. She always let me do the little fork crosses before she popped them in the oven.
When we moved to our second home, our new kitchen was more modern, spacious and I was a little older. Not just a functional cooking space like before, this one was a gathering place. I remember having a late lunch on the kitchen table after school each day while Mom prepared the evening meals. Little responsibilities like mashing the potatoes, or stirring a pot were delegated to me as I grew. Those little tasks have added up to my kitchen know-how today.
Now I am the mum. I love cooking for my own family and entertaining our friends. It is such a satisfying yet simple pleasure to produce a dish or a meal, that others will enjoy. Living a life filled with children, their various commitments, my own work, my own training and an entire family's social calendars to manage, I totally understand why the cooking process can become lost - tossed unceremoniously into the 'too-hard' pile of chores. After all, creating a meal doesn’t just involve cooking. It also involves shopping, prepping and cleaning up.
Here are a few reasons I absolutely adore the process of creating a meal. A few of these might ignite (or rekindle) your love for cooking:
1. You are in full control of what’s going in your body: When you eat out, there is no doubt you are eating delicious and tasty food. However, you have limited control over how it is prepared or what goes in. This has an even greater impact at this time of the year as so many of us are trying to kick off the new year with new eating habits.
2. It’s good for the soul: Cooking for others lets you nurture your family and friends. Across all cultures, food is a love language. There is nothing like a beautiful home-cooked meal encourage the primal need to relax, let our hair down, and just enjoy each other’s company. The special thing about a home-cooked meal, is the inherent feeling of abundance it creates. As a bonus, there is no worrying about what to order or what the bill is going to be. Praise that you receive at the end of a satisfying meal is also pretty awesome. I just love hearing ‘that was amazing.’ Feeling appreciated can be a huge motivator for anyone to keep spending time in the kitchen!
3. You get to choose your own tasty adventure: Cooking can be a creative process. It takes some creative inspiration and occasionally a bit of ingenuity to make the most of what’s in your fridge and pantry. You have to: figure out what combinations work together, how to use the same produce to make different dishes, and to minimise cooking time by using up the leftovers into a new dish. Every so often, I will search for a brand-new recipe that I have never tried before, just to add to my cooking repertoire. The more you experiment with tastes and textures, the more you will start to understand what works together and what doesn’t. Adding to your knowledge bank is fun and also allows you to access this knowledge to be more flexible in the future.
4. It doesn’t need to be tedious if you get a little bit organized: I quite enjoy the rituals that are involved with food prep – washing, chopping, tasting. I know that it can be a little repetitive so when I get into a groove, I find it helpful to just do that little bit extra. Doing a little more prep now means that you will save time at your next cook. It’s always a bonus when you open your fridge to find bowls of prepped produce! Another idea is to prepare a little more of the dish that you are cooking so you will have delicious leftovers for a meal tomorrow. That way, you can just add a side salad or extra veggies and you are ready to go.
5. It is a continuous learning process: Cooking is definitely not a same-old-same-old exercise. The number of resources out there are countless, whether it be old-school cookbooks, magazines or the infinite social media and Pinterest accounts. There is inspiration and guidance everywhere to suit any ability level and any time constraint. Also, the worst thing that could happen if you do make a dire mistake in the kitchen is that dinner won’t be served (this is why we always have a back-up tin of tuna and a box of pasta in the pantry). On the other hand, the best thing that could happen is that you’ll figure out what you did wrong and serve up a beautiful dish the next time around!
6. It’s money saving: Ah yes, the old money adage! But it’s so true. In fact, I just read a little meme the other day that said that it only takes about $27.40 of unnecessary discretionary spending a day to eat up $10,000 you could have saved that year. Food is one of the easiest ways to save money because it is easily available to most of us. Even better, the best options (i.e. fresh, seasonal produce) is usually the cheapest. So, if you’ve set a savings goal for this year, maybe now is the time to start getting your head around preparing more meals at home rather than eating out.
7. You make memories: I’ve said it many times before, and I will say it many times again. Food has the power to break barriers and make memories for your guests, family gatherings, parties and celebrations.
So guys, are you ready to start getting your aprons on? Here’s wishing you many wonderful memories that are created in your kitchen!