The kids have been at school all day. They have also been playing all afternoon. They’re tired, and a bit ratty.
You’ve been working from home the entire day as well as working through the to-do checklist for the entire household.
Hubby is still at work and probably will be until the dinner and bath-time bedlam have passed (lucky duck!).
Sound familiar? Is it still really worth it to cook a meal from scratch?
The answer for me, is (usually…but not always) … a resounding YES.
Now, before you start thinking that I am just a blogger on a high horse, let me clarify by adding that we definitely have our takeaway nights and nights where a bowl of cornflakes will just have to do.
We live in an age where convenience is king. We are a society that pack so much into our days. Often, we are dragging our minds and bodies across the finish line at the end of each day. The thought of adding an extra task is like that last drop of liquid that causes the spill.
That said, most of the time, the pros of cooking from scratch far outweigh the cons.
Hear me out.
Here is my list of why I try to cook from scratch as often as I can:
It’s cheaper: Even though this list isn’t meant to be in any particular order, this is probably the biggest reason to start cooking yourself rather than heading out to buy takeaway or heading up the freezer aisle at your grocery store. The cost of convenience is high. Food companies have no motivation to drop these ridiculous prices because people are very willing to pay them. In order to puff up their margins even more, food companies may also skimp on the quality of ingredients (for which you are paying a premium). You end up feeling the effects of convenience food- not just in your pocketbook- but your gut health and digestion keep paying long after the pain of the purchase has passed. You will find that purchasing a basket of fresh food ingredients is more cost effective than buying packets and packets of frozen meals.
It’s fun, and can be zen: I personally love the process of cooking. First it’s the shopping, then preparation and finally the cooking. The ultimate reward at the end of the journey is the joy and enjoyment you create for your audience (or yourself)! When my cooking is undisturbed, it also serves as a stress reliever. Different from the normal stress of life- I like taking my time in the kitchen, thinking through the creative processes that cooking can involve. Tending to purchase locally and seasonally means I have to work with what’s in the fridge, not what I’ve necessarily planned. As a side benefit- the cooking process involves not just creating calories- but burning them too – think walking in the markets, chopping and cleaning!
It gives you greater control of what you put into your body: Who really fully understands food labels when you read them? It’s hard enough trying to eat a healthy balanced diet, let alone reading the label on every food product you buy. I can’t tell you how many times I have eaten something in a package only to look at the label and be disgusted at the amount of sugar, fat or salt which I have ingested. When you make your own meals, there is a mindfulness of eating that comes from having seen the ingredients come together into a finished product.
It connects you to the planet: I promise this is not a “hippie” claim. One of the biggest problems with our generation is that we have been handed everything. Food is readily accessible, water is on tap, and our necessities are no more than a car ride away. This creates a disconnect and a lack of gratitude. When you cook from scratch you are one step closer to where your food came from. Bonus points if you buy your food from a local farmer’s market, where you can truly understand the story behind the food you are eating.
It is usually healthier: When you make a homemade version of something you could buy at the store, you are most likely saving yourself calories, fat, salt and sugar simply by cooking it yourself. Fat, sugar and salt are agents for taste in processed foods, which is why they are usually laden with it. When you cook, you are in complete control of what you add to your food. You have the power to make food even healthier by adding in extra vegetables, for example.
It’s flexible: So here’s the thing about cooking. Once you are familiar with a base recipe, it’s pretty easy to tweak it a little or a lot to make an array of different dishes. For example, a simple tomato sauce can easily be turned into a Bolognese, or it can become the base for your homemade pizza, or you can add chilli and prawns for a beautiful seafood pasta.
It’s the best way to take care of your friends and family: I absolutely love hosting brunches, lunches and treating the people I care about to a fabulous meal. With the risk of sounding cheesy … for me, this is made possible by cooking fabulous dishes from scratch, sprinkled with (calorie free and nutrient rich) love of course! It is so wonderful to have family time around the kitchen or dining table. This creates opportunity for memories and positive associations to be made with food.
I would love to hear what you’ve cooked from scratch this week. Leave me a comment and let me know what’s brought some joy into your home and kitchen this week!