Want to know an easy way to show someone that you love and care for them? Cook a nourishing meal. I sometimes joke with my wife that I knew I was going to marry her after the first couple of meals she made. Obviously that isn't the only reason, but within a month of that first delicious dinner, I had purchased the ring. Coincidence? I think not.
Food should be delicious and healthy. You should think of food as nourishing in the same way that taking a breath is nourishing. Looking at air quality, would you rather breathe air in the middle of a busy Beijing intersection (no offense China), or at the top of a pristine mountain in Switzerland? I've done both and the answer is obvious.
A great way to improve the quality of your food is to increase the amount of home cooked meals.
For this post, let's answer three of the most common excuses people make when I ask them to increase the amount of healthy home cooked meals.
1. Healthy food is too expensive.
What is the greatest threat to the American way of life? Obesity is. With bad choices, we slowly poison each other with foods that cause disease and kill more Americans every year. What is being unhealthy going to cost when the primary earner in the household gets ill and isn't able to keep a job? What about the cost of medication?
I don’t do the shopping in my house, so I’ve asked someone with experience to step in for this part. Here’s Sifu Mimi, since she does all the cooking.
No matter how you look at it, eating out is always more expensive than cooking at home. What is your idea of a meal? My idea of a meal is a protein, veggie, and smart carbs. Yes carbohydrates! It’s ok to eat carbs, but not all are created equal. Here’s how my meal adds up:
1 whole chicken (4 lbs for $5)
1 bundle of watercress ($1)
2 lbs sweet potatoes ($2)
That meal is under $10 and can easily feed 4 people (only 2 in my household, but we do not mess around at dinner time!).
A combo meal at fast food costs almost $8 for 1 person. How can eating out be cheaper?
2. I don’t have time to cook.
Most people are living unconsciously. What I mean is that most choices are not made when we are thinking, but when the primitive brain is in charge. We get hungry, tired, crave, and then indulge. That's why I ate those two cinnamon buns last night! Failing to plan equals planning to fail.
Kids also get blamed as the reason for not having time to cook. How about involving them? Children need to learn control. Cooking can be a great way to teach this skill. From experience with my young cousins I’ve seen children enjoy the science, math, teamwork and self-control involved with cooking. And don’t forget the instant reward that comes from enjoying a meal you helped prepare. Ask your kids to help with cooking and you might be surprised. There is a lot going on to captivate them.
You can also think about combining your exercise with cooking. Rocco Dispirito, author of Cook Your Butt Off writes that cooking can be cardio. You can burn up to 400 calories an hour. His book gives recipes for meals with less calories than you burn cooking. Dispirito calls this net negative calorie. He suggests reverting to low tech cooking (chop your seasoning, use a heavier pan). It may take a little bit longer and a bit more effort but the calorie burn is beneficial
Sifu Mimi note: I get home after 9:00pm every night and still have time to cook. I have to prepare a lot of the ingredients on the weekends for the week. So yes, this takes planning, but it absolutely can be done!
3. I don’t know how to cook.
Mimi can make anything taste good. It's all about balance. Everything you eat is a combo of sour, salt, sweet, and bitter. You just need to know how to put it all together. Again, I turn it over to my wife.
If you don’t have a natural instinct for cooking, not to worry! There are so many resources out there on healthy cooking, it should be a no brainer! Youtube is a great source with video step-by-step instructions! Yes, it will take time to develop the skill, but think of it as a skill you will have for the rest of your life that directly benefits your health. Worth it? Yes. A few great resources for recipes: nomnompaleo.com, epicurious.com, wellnessmama.com – just google whatever you are feeling to eat and choices will be endless. Give it a try and be experimental.
After reading this you don’t have to turn into Julia Child over night. But if you are like most people, you probably have a goal of losing a little bit of weight, feeling a little better and looking better. How about making the hardest workout of the week prep day? Plan out the week, go shopping, and prepare some food. Then try for just one perfect meal that week. The one that you will have the most success with (breakfast, lunch or dinner). Enjoy this time with your loved ones or maybe just yourself with no distractions. Yes, you are showing love and care with the right nourishment, but you are also building better habits that will carry over to the rest of your life.