I warn you ahead of time: This is going to be more of a rant.
While I was reading “The 30-Day Vegan Challenge” (I know, I’m slightly obsessed as of late), there was something that was said in one of the chapters that struck a chord. It’s something that I abide by, and I thank God that someone else is thinking about this the same way that I do.
Basically, the book was speaking of processed and convenience items.
We have a million and one reasons for why we don’t cook nowadays. “I don’t know how to do that”, “It’s easier to just order take out/pick something up”, and the ever ubiquitous “I don’t have the time.” It seems that we never have the time for anything.
Let me start out my rant by saying this: we make time for things that matter to us, and that includes me. We make time for things that are important to us, including being lazy. I’m as guilty of this as anyone. The only thing that I try hard to make an effort with is cooking because of how important it is to me.
Before I go ranting and raving about how horrible it is to constantly buy because of convenience, let me, instead, offer an argument. While I think eating out and buying pre-packaged stuff is okay every once in a while, doing it all the time can incur costs that we’ve neglected to count.
The first thing that I’d like to point out is that it’s honestly cheaper to buy things in their whole state. Whether you’re vegan, vegetarian, or an omnivore, it’s cheaper to buy things in their whole state, and break it down yourself. Basically, the reason these things cost more is because there is more hands involved when it comes to getting the product to the store. Take broccoli florets, for example. If you buy broccoli from the freezer aisle, someone has to take time to take the broccoli, cut it away from the stem, possibly cook and freeze those florets, package them, and have them shipped to your local grocery store. The cost of that bag of broccoli florets includes this labor cost. Conversely, if you simply go to the produce section and pick up a head of broccoli, there is far less involved to get it to its destination. The broccoli is harvested, put into a crate with many other heads, and taken to the store. So many of us are concerned about saving money, but we miss this one major thing that could help us save money. This is also true of chicken. It’s almost always easier to buy that whole and break it down yourself.
Secondly, in most cases, it’s healthier to eat at home. Even with frozen veg, you have to watch your ingredients. Sometimes extra sodium and maybe preservatives are in them to keep the food so that it reaches its destination. If you constantly eat out, it’s not good. Expense aside, extra butter, salt, and fat is added to those foods, which is why they’re so good. I’m not saying that I never eat out, or that I don’t cook unhealthy things at home; however, when you cook something at home, you have more control over how much fat and salt goes into your food. You also have the extra bonus of being able to customize things to your liking and your tastes… which sort of leads to my next point.
Cooking can actually be fun!
Not having time to cook really isn’t an excuse. Well, it is, but it’s more of an excuse not to do it rather than a legitimate excuse. We all have time and can make time to cook. A decent meal can be made in 30 minutes, including the prep time and how long it takes to make its journey to your plate. Half an hour. Tops. It upsets me that there are so many people that don’t know how to use a chef’s knife and that, moreover, may not own one at all! That’s just sad! Most home preparations don’t take chef-like precision; anyone can chop and mince, and it doesn’t take copious amounts of time… not for home cookery, unless you choose to make something fancy. Slicing, rough chopping, and mincing are the most common preparations used in the home kitchen. EVERYONE should know how to do that. Not knowing how, especially if you live on your own or are over a certain age, is inexcusable in my opinion. If you’re older and never had anyone teach you, Youtube is a great resource for learning these things. I happened to learn in cooking school. I came out with cut thumbs every time I set foot in a hands-on course, but I learned. I can do all of the chef-y preparations necessary, but like I said… the average home cook doesn’t need to know how to julienne or how to do a perfect brunoise. Not unless you’re feeling particularly fancy that night.
There was this little word art sign I saw in TJ Maxx that I liked, and it said “It is easier to stay well than to get well.” Lord knows why I didn’t buy it because I completely agreed, and still agree with that line of thought. This is what home cooking can do for the lot of us if we decided to make time to do it. Any time you can go into a fast food or quick service place, and they know you by name and know your order… it might be time to start cooking at home. Plus, it’ll be easier on your wallet and better for you. Give peas a chance, as well as other vegetables from your produce aisle… or local farmer’s market. This gives you the added bonus of buying in season and supporting locals farms and businesses.
I hope people will start cooking more in the future, and buying things fresh whenever they can. It’ll keep food costs as well as doctor’s bills down, I’m sure. There is much nutrition that can be derived from food if we eat the right things. Focusing on the quality of your food is worth the time, money and effort. Trust me, hospital bills will cost more in the long run.