If your garbage can is littered with take-out boxes and prepared food wrappers, you may be thinking it’s time to learn how to cook. If you’re starting from scratch, learning how to cook is time-consuming, and you may face a few failures along the way. However, the benefits of knowing how to cook and taking control of your diet can be enormous. By cooking your own food, you’ll take control of what you eat, save money and fill your body with healthy foods rather than additives and preservatives.
Cooking for Your Health
Fast food joints and restaurants often skimp on basic fuels your body needs, including nutrient-rich fresh fruits and vegetables. Many fast food and takeout options are laden with fats and salts that can increase your risk of disease. Serving sizes are often larger than is healthy, and if you’re eating on the go, you’re likely not paying attention to how much you’re actually eating. This can mean you’re consuming many more calories than you actually need in a given day.
Many cooking recipes provide you with a breakdown of the amount of fats, salts and carbohydrates in the completed dish, allowing you to choose recipes that are truly good for you. At restaurants, it’s often difficult to obtain this sort of information. You can also control how much salt and fat you add to a dish when you’re cooking, and make healthy swaps and substitutions to keep your calorie count low.
Cooking for Your Budget
At first glance, it may seem cheaper to eat out or grab takeout after work. However, many easy recipes call for simple, inexpensive ingredients you can buy at the grocery store. Most recipes are designed to generate multiple servings. By cooking your own food for dinner, for example, you can freeze your leftovers for quick dinners at a later time–or have lunch for the next day. Doing some smart shopping and stocking up on healthy staples–like canned beans, wheat pasta and frozen vegetables–mean that you always have an affordable, healthy option at home.
Cooking for Your Soul
Cooking your own food can make you feel empowered, creative and in control. Learning how to cook means you won’t rely on restaurants, family members or friends to provide you with delicious, healthy meals. You’ll be able to do this for yourself, whenever you want to.
Cooking puts you in touch with the ingredients that go into the food you’re eating. As you grow comfortable in the kitchen, you may be drawn to experiment with vegetables and meats you’ve never tried before. You’ll work at an elemental level, with grains, fats and heat while following cooking recipes. You may find this process to be an outlet for your creativity, which isn’t something you’re apt to feel in choosing an entrée off a menu.
Learning How to Cook is a Process
This isn’t to say that cooking your own food will come to everyone naturally. Even easy recipes provide room for error, and some cooking recipes that seem easy are actually difficult when you’re immersed in them. It may take time to learn to decipher recipes. You will have to plan your menus and buy your ingredients in advance. At times, you may have to ask the clerks where the ingredients are, and what they look like.
It’s important to remember, during times like this, that learning how to cook takes time and patience, and many others have come before you and struggled with exactly the same issues. And yet, in the end, most experienced cooks are passionate about cooking, and find the process of learning well worth the struggle.