Friday, March 26, 2010

Piece of Advice #11: Cook

Cooking in our Western society is another way of opting out of our great social/nutritional experiment gone wrong.  Eating out is expensive and often very caloric.  Eating on the go means an end to that grand tradition of family sitting down nightly around the table to interact over nourishment.  Relying on restaurants for your food adds an additional barrier of ignorance about what exactly is going into your body, both materially and nutritionally.  Why do we pay so much to eat stuff that is so bad for us, so generic tasting, in a public setting?  Habit and laziness, I suppose.  I got into the habit myself for awhile. But no longer.

The good things about cooking:

  • It is so much cheaper to cook for yourself or your family  
  • Cooking with fresh ingredients results in tastier, more interesting food
  • Home cooking is healthier for you (unless you have your own deep fryer and plan to use it for every meal)
  • Your family will feel cared for and connected to you by this daily tradition of nourishing
  • You can keep that portion of evening time family time.  
[Personal note: I've cooked - some - since I was in college.  I am not a foodie and can pretty happily eat a limited number of foods without getting too bored.  But my husband is a different story.  He likes a fair amount of variety in his meals, he doesn't like leftovers served more than once, and he has a number of other food rules besides.  Also, the types of foods he most enjoys are the types of foods I really don't like which makes feeding him a bit of a challenge.  But he loves to be fed.  He highly values it; it makes him feel cared for to have me put a meal in front of him that is designed to please his taste buds.  My son is not so picky and will eat fairly promiscuously, but enjoys home cooking and likes the routine nature of sitting down at the family table.  I will cook special foods for him sometimes too, and he gets very excited about them.

If I spend an hour or so each evening making something that sustains my family and creates and maintains the bonds my husband and son have with me, I think that's time well spent.  I also make and send healthy lunches.  Breakfasts are not sit-down affairs except sometimes on weekends.]

In many cases cooking something will not take as long as getting everyone together, herding them into the car, driving to a restaurant, ordering, waiting for the food, eating it, and returning home.  In families with working mothers or wives, I would encourage the whole family's participation in the process because working together also can create bonds and teach the younger generation a very useful skill.  If you are single, add up the money you are saving and put it away for a goal.  Also watch the pounds come off.


  1. It's a hard habit to form, or maintain, when one is single. (I probably cooked a larger share of my meals when I was in high school than I did between leaving college and meeting my wife...just didn't seem worth the effort, when no one else is around to appreciate it.) But for a couple, even without kids, it makes everything easier.

  2. My experience is the opposite. As one who will be alone for the foreseeable future, cooking seems to me to be an essential skill for self-sufficiency.

  3. I agree with you on most points. Restaurants rarely include enough vegetables for my liking. But for a working mother, this is a HUGE challenge because there is so little time and energy at the end of the day. And getting the whole family involved typically means staying up all night washing dishes.

  4. SnappyEel - You are right, it is a challenge and an effort all around for working mothers.

  5. Look, how about instead we realize a more equatable division of labor based, instead of on arbitrary sex roles, on what 1 is best at? My husband is best at cooking. I'm an ace cleaner. Between the 2, we both make it work. The fact is, in this day and age, men are ALSO falling short of their "masculine" duties. They hire landscapers; plumbers; mechanics; investors; etc.
    Look, I like where your site is coming from. However, it also falls into this age-old sex-trap: that women have something that needs to be worked on or fixed. I love Athol Kay's site because he gives men a firm "talking-to" and then holds their hands -- nicely -- and bitches about women and their short-falls and what men can do to fix themselves in ways that will also effect the women in their lives. The fact is, most women coming to your site ALREADY feel close to how you feel. So instead of being this "you are wrong, here's why. YOU change. End of story", instead I'd be more apt to listen to "Yeah, the advice we've been given is wrong. Here's how to get the most out of your man". Because, after all, that's the subtext, that's the whole reason for this, isn't it? To get and keep men who make us happy? Of course, that means that we have to make them happy -- where your advice comes in. But come on -- modern men are more than happy to be little babies and just whine and complain. I want a "get your man to to really blow your mind in the sack" and then it goes on to say "you should lose weight, etc." If you were to couch your arguments that way, it wouldn't seem so woman-hating.

  6. My goal was never to teach women how to get more out of men. My purpose was to point out how selfish, self-involved, shallow and immoral our culture teaches women to be and how that is going to act against their best interests long term. I'm not here to bitch about men or to tutor women on how to better manipulate men. Self-improvement - of women - is what the site is for. I think self-improvement is a good goal, regardless of sex. Plenty of other sites tackle what is supposedly wrong with men and how they can hop to working those kinks out.

    If this seems like women hating, the definition is pretty broad.

  7. Here's how to get the most out of your man.

    Because, I suppose, the idea that a woman might have obligations to care for her husband and family is just too horrifying, innit? Surely, the only legitimate reason a woman could have for doing something is the fulfillment of personal appetites. Obligations are for men, after all, aren't they?

    I want a ...

    That's nice. But you really must realize that what you want is irrelevant to just about everyone. And the vast majority of those who do think and care about what you want do not have your best interests at heart. That is the beginning of wisdom.

  8. Cooking is great, on multiple fronts. My husband cooks, too, though - we have different culinary strengths. (*He's* the one who deep fries...but not very often.)

    I certainly don't mind an occasional (birthdays, anniversaries, and a handful of additional times per year) restaurant meal, but cooking at home is soooo much nicer on a day in, day out basis.

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  10. I started cooking a simple meal each night when my children were very small, and had them help me prepare and clean up after. Now that they are teens and older, they can do it themselves. We still eat every night together, and rarely is it only our family. We usually welcome two to five 'extra' teens longing for a home-cooked meal and fellowship. They all know they are welcome. So many families have lost this precious time of conversation and connection.

  11. My wife and I have a small group of highly educated married friends. None of the women cook. Ever. Cooking is a task assigned by the white slave master, and it is symbolic of the endless degradation of women by men throughout history. They could never accept your advice.

    BTW, I think that the epidemic of obesity among children and adults is the direct consequence of women BOTH choosing not to cook AND making it clear that cooking is the most demeaning thing that a perso could possibly be made to do.

    Sorry, I seem to have tablet computer problems, and posted to the wrong page.