The Time Factor

30.09.2016 |

Episode #8 of the course Cooking essentials: how to start cooking at home by Jenna Edwards

 

Cooking takes time, including shopping, prep, and cleaning. There are services out there now that help mitigate your time in most of these areas. Short of hiring a personal chef, you have to trade some time for some or all of these parts of cooking at home.

Here’s why that’s good for you.

Our lives are pretty busy as is, so it’s perfectly normal to feel overwhelmed at the idea of trying to squeeze in one more thing. Being so busy contributes to our stress levels, which affects our general well-being. We’re also obsessed with multitasking, and we’re rarely fully present in our actions. Cooking demands focus.

Wellness experts all agree that dedicated mindfulness is better for us, and we’re more productive that way. For many, cooking is like meditation or yoga. We separate from our thoughts and focus only on the task at hand. The mind can rest, even though it’s working. The repetitive task of chopping or peeling can also contribute to our mind and heart rate slowing down, using up some nervous energy, and working out anxiety.

So not only is the food you’re preparing good for you, but the act of cooking is also good for you. Same goes for cleaning.

That said, you should absolutely use your time efficiently.

 

Use Frozen or Canned Vegetables

I prefer to use fresh vegetables whenever possible, but it’s not always an option. Frozen is a great choice, especially for leafy greens. Most of the time, frozen vegetables can go straight from the freezer and into the pan or pot. Canned is helpful, but it carries some concerns because of the chemicals that can leach into the vegetables from the lining. Canned is better than nothing, though.

Use the freezing method we talked about a few days ago. If you’re cooking something fresh, why not double or triple it so you have some for later? The more comfortable you become with this, the more you’ll enjoy it. There’s a whole freezer movement out there—folks who spend one day cooking and freezing meals for 30 days at a time. You will run out of freezer space, so at some point, you have to re-cook your savings.

 

Supplement with Prepared Foods

If you’re not comfortable with cooking meat, buy a roast chicken from a butcher or the grocery store and make your own sides. Or the opposite—buy a vegetable you’re not yet comfortable cooking from scratch and experiment with ways to repurpose it. Half steps like this are progress toward building familiarity with foods and their behavior in the cooking process.

 

Cook Ahead

Sunday afternoons are a popular time to prepare for the week ahead. Make a few cups of a grain, roast a couple sheets of vegetables, chop greens for a salad (wash them only when you’re ready to eat them; the water will cause them to get slimy quicker), or whisk together a buddha bowl dressing. You don’t have to cook every night to enjoy home-cooked food.

 

Start Small

On that note, you don’t have to cook often to get started. If it’s just one meal a week, that’s great! It’s a start. If it’s twice a month, that’s great! It’s a start. Life is a long time—you have time to learn your way through. Stay curious. Use YouTube to look up techniques or demonstrations. Try cooking classes every now and then. Hang out with friends who cook.

 

Start Anywhere

I started with baking. It was sweets, yes, but it got me in the kitchen making something myself. Baking is straightforward. Follow the directions exactly—EXACTLY—and you’ll be just fine. Then you can start cooking, following the recipes exactly as written. As you experience cooking techniques and flavor combinations, you’ll start trying to cook “freestyle” or modify recipes to suit your creativity.

Tomorrow, I’ll introduce you to the tools you need to pull it off!

 

Recommended resource

5 Tips for Mindful Cooking

 

Recommended book by Highbrow

“The Flavor Bible: The Essential Guide to Culinary Creativity, Based on the Wisdom of America’s Most Imaginative Chefs” by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg

 

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