One of the most powerful things you can do in aid of your family’s health is offering them home-cooked meals. I know, I know, not many of us like to slave over the stove, we don’t have time for it anyway, we’re too busy working, we’re shattered by the time we get home… and the list of excuses goes on and on.
If you do cook every day, you are the exception (and a massive well done to you). But the majority of households in the US and the UK rely heavily on processed foods, to the extent that the young generation hardly knows how to cook. Women’s liberation and the spread of feminism also contributed to this: cooking has been made to look far more inferior than self-actualisation. But surely the days when one had to choose between working and cooking are over? We’re obsessed with cookbooks, cookery shows and celebrity chefs, so cooking is actually cool now. Why not cook then?
The one negative effect these cookery shows have is that they mistify cooking. It seems like cooking is an incredibly difficult and stressful task. Well, it’s not. It can be simple, easy, even quick – a fillet of fish is ready in 30 minutes in the oven. And if you don’t have much time, you don’t have to cook every day – just make larger portions and freeze them for a no-cook day. Sauces, stews, soups are perfect for freezing, for example.
I know that it’s easy to resort to convenience foods, but I’ve also read numerous research findings about how processed foods are responsible for so many illnesses (think obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer). The less processed foods in your diet, the better.
Cooking can be so much fun, you can involve the kids too, let them mess around in the kitchen and get familiar with vegetables and fruit. Time spent in the kitchen can also be quality time spent together as a family, especially when you sit down and enjoy the meal you’ve made together. And don’t be afraid if you’re not much of a chef; most of us aren’t. Cooking is not about perfection; it’s a trial and error process really, not unlike parenting. Remember how you felt changing a nappy for the first time? I was just as nervous making my first lasagne. After some practice you change nappies and think “what was all that fuss about? It’s the easiest thing in the world!” Well, the same goes for cooking. Of course, don’t try to be Gordon Ramsay straightaway. An edible, good-tasting, honest meal will be a perfect start. Just cook it.