Cooking Overwhelm

Why do so many people suffer from poor health these days? There are lots of answers to that one question. However I think one of the biggest reasons is that most people don’t cook. They don’t like to cook, they don’t want to cook and they simply choose not to cook. If that’s what you choose you can absolutely make that happen. The food industry has made it super simple. You can eat a granola bar for breakfast, have McDonald’s for lunch and throw a Weight Watchers frozen meal in the microwave for dinner. Voila! No cooking!

But why do people choose to eat this way? Surely our own home-cooked meals taste better and are more nutritious than the above mentioned foods (if you can even call it food!). Plus it’s often cheaper to make our own meals rather than eat from the drive-thru or out of a box or bag. However, I think many people have never learned to cook and the idea of starting as an adult is rather daunting.

Growing up, my mother was the cook in our family, as was the case for most families in the ‘70’s. She was an excellent cook and we ate nutritious dinners every night. There were seven of us in all to feed as I am the youngest of 5. My older brothers were big eaters so dinners were quite the production, just to get enough food on the table. My mom used to complain a lot about making dinner. In my mind meals used to take hours to prepare – I’m not sure why because I’m pretty sure they didn’t take that long. I think I felt that way because of my mom’s attitude about cooking. She totally had cooking overwhelm even though she was an accomplished cook. But the job was too big and it definitely was a JOB, not a fun, creative thing to spend time on.

Mom was good at delegating lots of chores – trash, dishes, bathroom scrubbing, etc. – but she didn’t delegate cooking duties. And, because of this, I never learned to cook. I’m not sure why she didn’t have us help. Perhaps the feeling of overwhelm didn’t allow her to teach us. Or maybe she wanted to keep control of the cooking because she didn’t believe we’d do a good job. I’m really not sure.

I moved from my parent’s house not knowing how to cook. I knew a few basics like scrambled eggs and grilled cheese but that was about it. College was no big deal – I mainly ate at the cafeteria. But once I got a job and an apartment I started eating out of boxes. I wanted to be sure to stay slim so I ate Lean Cuisines for most of my dinners. For lunch I either ate fast food or packed a turkey sandwich. I just didn’t even know where to begin learning to cook and, honestly, didn’t have much desire to learn after witnessing what my mother had gone through for all those years.

Then I got married. And I married a man who really likes to cook. And he’s a really good cook.   And it’s fun and kind of a big game for him. I began to learn from Zack the basics such as how to bake chicken breasts, grill a steak and sauté spinach. I also learned a lot about spices and herbs and how they can totally transform a meal. I came to the realization that it doesn’t take hours to cook a meal. And, with time, the cooking overwhelm just fell away.

I would like to see cooking at home make a come-back. I would love to see mothers and grandmothers teaching their children and grandchildren how to cook. How much fun it is and how relaxing it can be and how fabulous the food can taste. This one thing will help tremendously in taking back our health.

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