I have a confession to make. Cooking is not one of my favorite things to do. In fact, I really kind of hate it. OK, maybe hate is a bit strong. I mean, it’s not as bad as scrubbing the shower floor or putting clean sheets back on the beds (raise your hand if you hate dealing with fitted sheets). But those chores are only required on a weekly basis. Cooking is something that is expected every day. Every.Single.Day! Ugh!
But, we have to eat right? And since I made the choice a few years to move toward a greener lifestyle, I knew that I was going to have to figure it out. The convenience of ordering a pizza or takeout is appealing after you’ve worked all day, or had to attend your kid’s extracurricular activity requiring you to eat later than normal. But when I stop to think about, there are three reasons why cooking just makes more sense:
- Take-out food is typically processed and filled with chemicals and preservatives to enhance flavor. While they may “taste” good, you are essentially eating food that is fake and terribly bad for you.
- Ordering food from a restaurant means that packaging is involved. When you are cooking at home, you don’t have to worry about how you’ll deal with the large pizza box, or the Chinese cartons, or the Styrofoam containers.
- Eating out is a budget buster. Being green isn’t just about saving the planet; it’s about saving the green in your wallet. Try going an entire month without eating out and see how much money you save.
So, if you’re like me and you are trying to embrace the idea of actually cooking for your family, here are some things that may help.
- Buy a couple cookbooks that offer recipes that will work for your family. Whether you want budget meals, crock pot meals or kid friendly meals, having a cookbook will help you to make those “what are we having for dinner?” decisions. Sit down once a week and plan out your dinners, kids’ lunches, healthy snacks, etc.
- Make sure you have basic pantry staples all the time and trade out some of your not-so-healthy options for healthier ones (agave nectar for sugar, whole wheat flour for bleached flour, etc.). If you have the basics on hand, you’ll use them.
- Make your grocery list. Try to stick to the perimeter of the store (meat, dairy, frozen foods, produce) and stay away from the inner aisles as much as possible. We like to purchase our meat from a farm that specializes in grass fed, antibiotic free cattle and our produce from farmers’ markets and a local, organic garden.
- Take an afternoon and do all of your prep work. Now that you know what you’ll be having and you have the ingredients, do all of your chopping and measuring ahead of time, storing the items in reusable containers. This way, they’re really handy and will save time. If possible, you can make a casserole ahead of time and freeze it for later in the week.
- Enlist the help of your family. Everyone in the family can take a job – measuring, pouring, stirring, chopping. This will give your kids some important culinary skills and allow you to spend time together.
I will never be a gourmet cook and I doubt that cooking will ever make my Top 10 list of fun things to do. But, with a little bit of organization and planning, cooking for your family can be a very rewarding experience and you’ll be confident knowing that they are receiving the best nutrition possible.