There’s nothing quite like several months of enforced lockdown to make you reconsider what’s important in life. And there are few things that come higher on that list than food.
Over the past few decades, we’ve become addicted to convenience. We can access high-quality television and film whenever the fancy takes us. We can change the song we’re listening to with a voice command. We can talk to our friends whenever the fancy takes us.
When it comes to food, the most obvious manifestation of this is ‘fast’ food. Since the first McDonalds in the UK opened its doors, we’ve become a nation of takeaway addicts. Essential life skills like cooking have been neglected, and our health has suffered as a result. According to research by Hammonds Furniture, the British public spend around £2.7 billion a month on takeaways, and around 2 million of us don’t do any cooking from scratch whatsoever.
While some takeaways are still plying their trade, there’s no real call for them any longer. We don’t have to juggle hectic professional lives, and there aren’t as many errands to run. The pace of life has become a little bit leisurely, and we have time to get reacquainted with our kitchens.
What’s more, there are some very real psychological benefits of cooking, especially for others. Cooking is a form of nurturing and giving to others fills us in so many ways. Think about it; when you are cooking and feeding yourself and others, it fulfills a survival need and so our feeling of fulfillment comes not only from the good of the act of giving, but also the fact that we have ‘helped’ in some very primal way. We have given fuel.
Cooking together makes us bond as it brings comfort and joy. Feeling this connection will help encourage a sense of trust, community, meaning, purpose, belonging, closeness, and intimacy.
All of these positive effects can very well be enough to get us into the kitchen, especially now when we have extra time on our hands to do so.
An untidy kitchen isn’t going to inspire you to perform culinary miracles. As such, it’s worth reorganising the whole space. And if you’re going to do that, you might as well perform a deep clean and get everything into a respectable state. If you uncover items that you don’t use very often, like bread-makers and coffee machines, then it might be time to either get the best from them, or move them on to the garage (or a charity shop).
The process of cleaning might uncover those rarely-used gems that you really should be getting more out of – cutlery sets and fancy glasses are common culprits.
If you don’t use your kitchen, then it’ll be difficult to appreciate exactly what it does for you. If your kitchen counter is used just for plating up rather than actually preparing food.
If you’re not used to cooking, then you’ll find plenty of inspiration and instruction out there on the internet. Pick out the food you’re most passionate about, and make it happen. If you’re missing takeaway, then now’s a good time to work out exactly what goes into the stuff to make it so appealing. The ‘leaked’ recipe for KFC, revealed by the Chicago Tribune, is a great place to start if you’re craving something deep-fried.
The more cooking you actually do in your kitchen, the better you’ll appreciate what actually makes the experience more convenient. If you find yourself constantly delving into the rear of a cupboard in search of spices, then a rack might be just what’s required. If you’re struggling to slice through an onion, then a sharper, more expensive knife might be worth its weight in gold.
Cook in Batches
The current situation will have hit many of us in the wallet, and restricted our opportunities to visit the supermarket. In such a climate, the value of cooking batch becomes unignorable. Spend a Sunday afternoon preparing the basic elements of great food will make it easy to throw together amazing dishes in the week. Refried beans, slow-cooked brisket, guacamole, mole and salsa verde can be made ahead of time and brought together quickly to make mind-blowing burrito. Similarly, you can keep frozen portions of many great dishes on hand for when you need them.
Cooking is a big part of bonding, of creating relationships and sustaining them. The feeling of being connected to others can have great effects on your well-being, like living a longer life and increased happiness. We hope that with these tips you will want to spend more time in the kitchen and fall back in love with cooking again.