Studies continue to report that fewer and fewer people are cooking at home, which makes me sad.
Clearly we are much more interested in and knowledgeable about food these days, as reflected in the increasing popularity of cooking shows, magazines, and cookbooks; yet we seem to be cooking at home less and less.
Have all the television food shows, better restaurants, fancy cookbooks, and glossy cooking magazines created unrealistic expectations for the home cook?
Are we special occasion only cooks?
Does cooking feel like drudgery that takes too much time?
Are we uncomfortable in the kitchen because we didn't learn the basics while growing so choose to avoid it?
I think all the emphasis on chef-inspired food porn has skewed the reality of what home cooking is all about and may have scared people away from the kitchen. Home cooking is different than restaurant cooking (or it should be).
Home cooking is about creating simple meals that comfort, nourish, and please, not trying to impress with overcomplicated dishes full of expensive ingredients that you use only once. Cooking dinner doesn't have to leave you feeling depleted. If you keep things simple and learn some basics, it can actually be a pleasant transition out of your work day, once you gain some kitchen confidence.
When I talk about simple basic home cooking, I'm not suggesting a return to some bygone era, where you need to make everything from scratch. There are lots of excellent prepared foods available to complement your home cooking and make life easier.
It's fun to discover great sources for delicious breads or pastries and I can't imagine life without the occasional rotisserie chicken, a busy night staple at our house. In fact, cooking some things while filling in with purchased items is a great way for new cooks to avoid getting overwhelmed.
Let's be honest, home cooking doesn't just happen. It takes some planning and prioritizing so you're don't get caught in that vicious cycle of asking yourself at the end of a long day, "What's for dinner?"
If getting a meal on the table is always preceded by the need to decide on a recipe and make a stop at the market, it's much less likely to happen.
Basic home cooking is about shopping only once or twice a week, planning ahead, cooking extra, creative use of leftovers, having a reasonably well-stocked pantry, and easy do-ahead dishes.
Home cooking has lots of advantages over a life of restaurant, take out, and drive through food. It is healthier and more economical, which can be especially important these days.
And studies have demonstrated that children who frequently eat dinner at home with their family eat more fruits and vegetables and get better grades in school.
It's not all sexy. But it is deeply satisfying to be able to nourish yourself and those you love with tasty simple home cooking. My mission is to help you get comfortable in the kitchen and increase your cooking confidence with lots of easy recipes, kitchen tips, and answers to common cooking questions.
Martha is the founder and main content writer for Simple-Nourished-Living.
A longtime lifetime WW at goal, she is committed to balancing her love of food and desire to stay slim while savoring life and helping others do the same.
She is the author of the Smart Start 28-Day Weight Loss Challenge.
A huge fan of the slow cooker and confessed cookbook addict, when she's not experimenting in the kitchen, you're likely to find Martha on her yoga mat.
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We've been trying to steer away from some of the processed foods. My Mom teaching me to cook was frustrating for both of us and I never did pick up the basics. So this is a new thing for me. We made sloppy joes the other day without a can - delicious and we are playing with spaghetti sauces. Not quite right yet. I'll have to see what you have here.
hey Martha...i agree every word....
also i feel home cooking has become so unfashionable that most people shun from it......we should realize that home cooking can be meditative, creative and fun ..all at the same time, apart from nourishing our body.
i believe in cooking from scratch and am obsessed with home made things....it is economical , satisfying , healthy and hygienic....makes family bonds stronger too.....but don't overburden yourself.
keep up the good work dear.
Andrea at Opulent Cottage
Amen to that, sister! I'm the only one in my East Dallas neighborhood who puts three meals a day on the table. Everyone else is leaving their home every night to go get food (yuck), and we're eating gourmet over here! Thanks for friending me on Tasty Kitchen -- it's fun to meet another home cook!!
Beth, Sangeeta, and Andrea,
Your comments make me so happy. When I read all the reports about the demise of home cooking and it's effects on our health and obesity it makes me sad. Connecting with other home cooks helps me realize that all is not lost and there are still home cooks out there carrying on this most important tradition!