I’m no chef by any means but that doesn’t matter – anyone can cook. There are recipes for every skill level, technique and cooking style. You don’t even need to follow a recipe, just allow for a little creativity and follow your gut. Of course there’s a learning curve, as with anything else. But over time, trial and error will do you well. The key is to not get discouraged. There are many reasons for dining in and learning to love your stove but these are the ones that really hit home and motivate me.
Less dough $$
Eating out comes with a hefty bill. Of course if you’re buying organic, ethically sourced and local ingredients, the grocery bill can quickly add up ( there is a reason Whole Foods is dubbed Whole Paycheque) , but this is still easier on your wallet than constantly footing the bill at restaurants. Once we committed to eating at home, we planned weekly menus and did our best to buy groceries that stuck to this menu. Having a meal plan and ingredient list will hopefully help you avoid careless spending.
Taking your health into your own hands
Food truly is preventative medicine. The foods we eat and the choices we make today are an indication of our current and future health. I didn’t want to continue living with adult acne, so I payed close attention to my diet, taking note of and avoiding what I found to be trigger foods for me. Cooking at home, from scratch has allowed me to be in control of my health and nutritional wellness, knowing exactly the quality and type of ingredients that go into each and every meal. Don’t get me wrong – I still enjoy eating out, just on a less frequent basis. It’s more of a treat now, rather than the norm.
Dining in, I’ve noticed that I eat considerably less than I would in a restaurant, sitting in front of a giant plate of food, stuffing myself until I couldn’t possibly manage another bite. Meals at home are usually slower, savouring each bite and the precious time and effort that went into putting that meal on the table. This is so so important for digestion. Your stomach can’t chew – it doesn’t have teeth, so ensuring you take time with each meal to chew and listen to your stomach’s indication of when it is getting full is key. When a meal is too heavy and the digestive load too much, the stomach and other digestive organs get worn down. They are unable to produce the appropriate enzymes necessary for digestion, leaving foods improperly broken down and ultimately letting those valuable nutrients slip away.
Another thing to keep in mind is that unfortunately in our current food systems, food is not synonymous with nutrition. Throughout my study of holistic wellness, I’ve come to understand that the relationship between the foods we eat, the health of our bodies and the information we receive regarding the two, is in fact quite convoluted. The food industry has bombarded us with misleading “health” information and polluted our super markets with processed food products that hardly resemble any real, whole food at all. When I talk about “real food” I am referring to foods that have been grown organically, mindfully and sustainably, without the use of chemicals. Foods that haven’t been adultered in any way. Foods that still shine because they are natural and whole. Manufactured food products, the ones many people gravitate towards out of convenience and necessity, unfortunately don’t have many nutrients to offer once processing is all said and done. Many essential vitamins and minerals are heat sensitive and are lost during the manufacturing process. Not to mention the list of synthetic additives, sugars, unstable fats, preservatives that are essential to ensuring the shelf life of these products. Unfortunately, very few, if any whole, living nutrients are left by the time products hit the shelves in our supermarkets. Another downfall of these foods is since they are not natural, they are foreign to our bodies. Consuming processed foods stresses the digestive system and organs responsible for nutrient breakdown and assimilation. With less bioavailable nutrients coming from the foods we eat, our bodies get worn down and soon we see our energy levels and vitality diminish. Cooking from scratch allows us to use natural, raw ingredients and control exactly what is in each and every meal.
Working at restaurants over the years has allowed me a behind the scenes look at the enormity of waste restaurants contribute to. This has never sat well with me. Something is made wrong?? Perhaps it lost too much heat before it made it to the table?? Straight into the bin. Eyes bigger than your stomach but don’t want to tote around a box of leftovers all evening?? Toss it all in the trash! All of the food and resources that went into raising, transporting and putting that meal on the table, are lost. And the environmental impact is huge. In 2013, restaurants generated 2.1 billion pounds of food waste in the United States. Fortunately, I live in a city where it is mandatory to compost food waste, but that is a progressive privilege that many cities and businesses do not currently uphold. And that doesn’t even begin to cover the plastics, aluminum, take-out boxes and cups, that end up in landfills, most of them made from materials that don’t ever properly decompose. That’s not to say that restaurants are solely to blame, a home-made meal is hardly ever waste free – but you definitely have more control over the degree of waste generated. The more whole foods you eat, generally, the less packaging involved. There are ways to further lessen your household generated waste too – grocery shopping in bulk, bringing your own reusable bags, jars and containers, composting your organics at home, taking inventory of what you have in your kitchen and making ingredient lists before you shop, while being disciplined in buying only what you need. Environmental responsibility is shared by all of us and cooking at home, along with these other tips allows me to take mindful steps to drastically reduce waste on the home-front.