“I just don’t like cooking,” is often an excuse when people want to avoid cooking real food and stick with processed foods and quick meals.
That phrase turns my head quickly, and my shock factor kicks in.
“You don’t like cooking?” the voice in my head cries.
But…when I analyze my own time in the kitchen, it could be said that I don’t always like cooking, either.
Eating, on the other hand, I love.
Nourishing my family is an obligation in my book, a promise I made to my kids when I signed on for the job of motherhood.
Therefore if A and B are true, then C = thou shalt cook unprocessed foods.
There is simply no other option for me.
I Didn’t Grow Up Cooking Real Food
As I grew into an adult, I filled out countless “about me” forms throughout high school, college, entering the workforce. Under “hobbies” I never once listed “cooking.” Nor baking, or food shopping, or cutting vegetables, or gardening, nor any hobbies that had anything remotely to do with food.
I didn’t participate much in making dinner while I was living at home, although I remember once brazenly attempting a two-layer cake, from scratch, for a cake raffle for my cheer team.
My own dad won the cake…and it was pretty dry and cardboard-like. My mother may have been a good example of real food cooking, but we had some work to do on my technique.
When I finally had my own kitchen in college, I perused “Quick Cooking” magazines all one summer, and I suppose I did start having a little fun with food at that time. It was “cooking” in that it wasn’t really UNprocessed food, just putting together a lot of processed food, but it was a good first step.
As a young married couple with two of us working, we ate Hamburger Helper (cringe-here is my healthy version to substitute) about once a week but also had stir fry with real ingredients regularly and probably ate better than many in our state in life – but still not anywhere close to what I would not call a real food diet and no emphasis on natural or organic foods. We didn’t have the budget or the motivation.
Kids will give you that motivation.
Meal Planning Resources
Here are the meal planning services (in no particular order) that I endorse for you to pick based on you and your family’s needs!
Cooksmarts (great community of people to learn from)
Real Plans (organizer to add your OWN recipes and replicate plans)
PrepDish (prep ahead, easy meals all week)
Try out their freebies (some even have tree trials) to see what fits your personality and preferences!
Learning How to Cook With Real Food
It was when I was expecting my first that I finally started thinking about not just “eating low fat” but about how the foods we were putting in our mouths might nourish and affect our bodies.
We ditched the margarine and turned to butter, started using whole wheat flour, and I began reducing the sugar I added to homemade quick breads.
When my son was born, everything that went into his mouth had to pass muster with my personal nutrition guide. With that tiny body, each bite seemed so important.
I didn’t even consider NOT making my own baby food, and I started buying organic foods for the first time, just for him. Homemade yogurt entered our lives, and since I was mostly staying at home, I had time and energy to figure out more unprocessed, from-scratch cooking.
I spend a lot of time in the kitchen. I tell people, “If it comes in a jar, a bottle, or a box, I probably make it myself instead.”
All our birthday cakes, as you might guess, are also from scratch.
Is Cooking Real Food My Hobby Now?
Even though I blog about real food, create recipes, and teach an online kids’ cooking course, I still feel like I have so much to learn in the kitchen. I sure do get a lot of practice though!
Once you’ve experienced a real food diet and shopping for vegetables in all the colors of the rainbow, there’s just no turning back.
Not only do I notice the “yuck” feeling on a compromise restaurant meal, but reading the ingredients on most processed foods makes me feel almost as sick. I can’t buy them, no matter how tempting convenience sounds. Natural, organic, unprocessed foods are our way of life, and I do feel like it’s an obligation to my family – and an investment in our good health in the long run – that I continue our good eating habits.
That means I will spend much of my time cooking, whether it’s something I enjoy or not.
Might it be my new hobby?
I’ve always loved reading, and I do notice that much of my casual reading, outside of books for a book club or Bible study, end up being about food. When I leave a conversation feeling energized and excited about it, it’s often been about food.
Food and cooking never was a hobby, but it’s taken over my recreation time and becoming part of the hobbies I did use to list on “about me” questionnaires.
I never thought I loved cooking, but I guess it really is “my thing.”