In a Facebook group for cooking, I recently posed the question, “Do you think that cooking is a dying art?” I received some very interesting answers. For people that do cook regularly, many said they believe it is generational: if they grew up having home-cooked meals, or learned to cook from their parents or grandparents, they were more likely to cook. Some said they did it because of health reasons. Some said food that they get for takeout never tastes as good as what they cook at home, so they hardly eat out. Some believe it saves money to cook at home.
So why don’t people cook at home as much? Do they not enjoy it? Are they not very good at it? Is it too time-consuming? Is home cooking a dying art? Cooking allows us to take control over what we eat while saving money. Why don’t people cook at home as much if there are a lot of benefits?
Maybe they don’t enjoy it. Perhaps they are tired, or they believe they are not very good at cooking. I think those two reasons go together. I also believe that some people don’t like to cook because they feel forced to do it. A lot of households also have both partners working, which makes mealtime even more difficult.
Many people may find themselves relying on ready-to-eat food or ready-to-cook meals. They can be very convenient, especially for busy families. I have used Hello Fresh and Every Plate for some of our meals. There are also local ready-to-cook meal services in our area. However, I no longer use these services because, with our needs, they become cost-prohibitive. I personally also did not always like the meal choices they offered, or the price, even when they do a really good job.
I enjoy cooking. I like my cooking and so does my family, so that’s a vital part of why I cook. Do I enjoy cooking after a long day at work? No, but the majority of the time I still cook. I have occasionally given in and picked up pizza, but I generally regret it and complain of the cost while my stomach complains also.
How do I avoid this dilemma? I try to have ingredients always on hand for a few simple, yet quick, meals I know and enjoy. These generally involve only a few ingredients and can be cooked using the Insta Pot. I can have a meal that we enjoy within 30-40 minutes even after a long workday. No special ingredients, no special skills because the instant pot helps a lot.
I can also do the same with chicken breasts or shrimp and fresh-cut veggies, roasting for about 25 minutes in the oven. Take a look at sheet pan dinners online and find simple, yet very tasty meals that do not require a lot of ingredients and take little time.
Sheet pan dinners may not work well in the summer because they heat up the whole house, but the grill works just as easily. At our house, the grill is never put away during the summer. Grilled pork chops, a salad, and some grilled zucchini or other veggies all take about 20-25 minutes. They may take some time to plan, yet save you time when it’s time to actually make dinner.
The Insta Pot, grill, or oven are all cooking tools that I do not have to constantly watch, so I can do other things with my time. Last night, we had Chili Colorado, and while the Instant Pot did its thing, I made fresh guacamole. These are the types of meals I enjoy doing and cook most often. I don’t enjoy cooking if I’m watching something cook.
I think finding easy-to-cook meals can help take out the time-consuming reason for not cooking. With a little planning (less than 30 minutes over the weekend for my family), I can make dinner time easier, and fairly quick.
The latest news articles will tell you about an increase in obesity in children during the pandemic due to the heavy consumption of highly processed foods. If you take a minute to search for articles on cooking skills and diet improvement, reduction of diabetes, obesity, and other illnesses, you will spend a lot of time reading article after article on how home-cooked meals improve the health of the family. That benefit alone is reason enough to keep cooking.
If you are a home cook, keep it up and try some new recipes! If you are someone who gets a lot of take-out but wants to make a change, challenge yourself to cook a home-cooked meal a few times a week. Use tools like the oven, grill, or Insta Pot. Try looking up one-sheet recipes. After some time, increase the amount you cook from home.
Once you get the hang of it, try using mostly fresh ingredients. When you’ve got the hang of it, try to reduce the number of canned sauces or boxed food you use. Believe me, once you cook from scratch, you’ll never want to use cans or boxes again!