This may be, as so many things are here, a post that is many months early. However the change I feel has been so dramatic, so early, that it is worth mentioning and bantering on about. My Wife and Myself have both taken it upon ourselves to start actually cooking again.
The average reader may say “Well I cook.” but I ask “What are you cooking?” Is the item fully formed before you begin cooking it? Does cooking involve putting a frozen meal into the oven? For me the idea of cooking is one where you start with raw materials, materials you can actually comprehend, and create something complete and hopefully tasty.
This past weekend we went to Safeway, I realize this is not the best option and that local farmer’s markets is the better decision but habit is a resistant beast. Baby steps are key in the change, however lets leave that digression for another day. We started out with a different set of goals. Previously it was a matter of gathering 7 meals to bide our time till the next weekend, but now it was gathering the materials for making meals that will last us. We were no longer looking for complete dishes but the component parts that can create that meal.
We grabbed real cheeses with little to no preservatives, breads that included only ingredients we could visualize in their natural states, lean meats, whole grain pastas, and Sauces that included only ingredients one should expect in sauces.
There were no chemicals, no wild modifications of natural food components to create some magical food science alternative. Likewise nothing that was “light” was picked up unless it was light because of watering down, no item with artificial sweeteners and nothing with dehydrated then rehydrated components.
Effectively our goal was to get food items that were minimally processed. We spent nearly our entire trip on the outside of the Grocery store as well, gathering items that appear to put as much distance as humanly possible from the “food” that is in the center.
It was a fun trip, a scavenger hunt of sorts. It was also fun to read the ingredients on items in the center. To find Maple Syrup that has no maple syrup (or any syrup) in it, juices that have little to no actual juice in them, and slightly misspelled items that mask the fact that what they imply to be are nothing compared to what they actually are.
After we collected our foods the cost was slightly higher than the average grocery trip, but most of what we bought lasts for a long time or when divided amongst the meals it creates was actually cheaper than the already prepared option.
After we collected everything we got home and began cooking our dish for the work week. The goal was to make something that would survive 5 days and provide us with a good level of nutrition. We had a small cheese snack, stuffed whole wheat manicotti, and originally lemon bars (a remnant of our old eating life), and now clementines and apples.
While I need to get back to work I wanted to end on the emotional note. We have now taken a much more interactive and personal role with our eating, the amount of fun and free time we have in the day hasn’t changed which tells me that people are erroneously believing that cooking their own food would kill their life.
We have been getting more and more changes to technology that have been touted as freeing up our lives yet we get no more done in the day. I suspect it is a much healthier alternative to live more like you have in the past. If you find your cell phone stresses you out, keeps you in too much contact, turn it off. If your food isn’t healthy enough, cook for yourself. If facebook and other social networking is overwhelming you and really not informing you of much, stop using it.
Relax, cook, be happy, and be involved. So far it has made me a much happier person even when my working life has tried very hard to make me unhappy. It’s anecdotal on the emotional level, but health wise you will live longer preparing cooking your own food, it’s almost impossible to be less healthy than manufactured food. It takes a whole lot of fat and sugar to match up with the frozen foods aisle.