I’m always wondering why people don’t cook. It’s such a simple way to be healthier and to save some money. Two things I think most people want, right? Maybe I’m wrong in this. If I am, then I should probably stop writing this post right here. If I’m right about it and there are other reason, here’s what I think they are:
- The illusion of having no time. I say illusion because there was a point when I was a single mom working a 40+ hour a week job and running an event series on the side and I still managed to go to the gym and make dinner from scratch every night. People spend their time in many different ways, but very few people don’t have time to make a fresh meal. Or exercise. People just don’t choose to spend their time that way and then they say things like “I don’t have the time.” I think a better way of saying this is, “I choose to spend my time differently.” Cooking food from scratch requires a commitment. There’s meal planning, and grocery shopping and then the actual cooking. I estimate that I spend eight hours a week doing all of this. That’s a lot of time I choose to spend doing this. I enjoy this time very much. I can also understand not wanting to spend eight hours a week doing this and choosing to spend time differently.
- Cooking is an expensive hobby. The food part is cheap. Eating mostly season veggies is so inexpensive. But turning cooking from a chore into an experience is expensive. I was at Powell’s bookstore the other day to buy some cookbooks and I’m standing there starting at Bittman’s How to Cook Everything. $35! I asked for a used copy, but they didn’t have one. So I bought it (the revised edition) and a Marcella Hazen, which was used. Fifty bucks later, I had two new cookbooks. How often do you spend $50 on a new hobby? Not often. Also, for most people cooking isn’t a hobby. It’s a chore. Would you spend $50 to enhance a chore? Would you spend $50 on a toilet brush, for example? No.
- Cooking isn’t a science. So often we cook something and it tastes bad. Or meh. Or just whatever. Factor in the things that could go wrong — ovens are a mess. None of them are the right temperature. Ever. Items get forgotten. People have different tastes. Recipes are written poorly. There are many things that can go wrong. And unless you’re convinced that there’s always another meal to try again, then you feel like a failure. When I fail at a meal, it’s very hard for me to remember that there’s another meal. I just have this lingering feeling of disappointment that this time I couldn’t make magic happen.
- The taste for home cooked food hasn’t been developed. If you eat out all the time, there’s a taste that you become accustomed to that is impossible to get at home. There’s a taste to processed food that’s impossible to replicate. I think of peanut butter in this case. I love Jif or Skippy. I love it with all of my heart. But I eat peanut butter every morning in my oatmeal and I didn’t want all of that sugar in Jif. I’ve been trying like mad to re-adjust my taste to hippy peanut butter. I’m almost there, but I do dip into the Jif every once in a while. It’s hard to get over that salty-sweet-fat combo that processed and prepared food has mastered.
- No one has shown you how to cook. One of my favorite memories is of my friend KLM showing me how to can fruit. We spend the day in her kitchen as she walked me through the process. I started the day totally freaked out by the idea of canning my own food (botulism!!!) and by the end of the day, I loved it and couldn’t wait to do more. I think it’s true of all sorts of cooking. It’s pretty scary if you’ve never done it before and never seen anyone do it. But if someone shows you how it becomes okay, and reasonable. By the way, it’s impossible to have botulism in canned fruits and jams. The sugar kills it. It is possible to not seal a jar correctly. In which case, you’ll see mold and fuzz on your canned good. We all know not to eat that, right?
Those are my reasons for why people don’t cook. What do you think? Do you cook? If not, why? Why do you think people do cook? If you know someone who doesn’t cook, have you tried to show that person how to do it?