Welcome to my Cooking School series, which is designed to share what I’ve learned as an experienced home cook with people who want to learn how to cook healthy, homemade food. If you have a topic you’d like me to address, please leave a comment!
I don’t know who said “Don’t compare your beginning with someone else’s middle,” but it definitely applies to the journey of learning to cook healthy meals. I think it’s a lifelong process and we all have room for improvement. That being said, if you’re just getting started, please don’t get discouraged by people who have been on the journey longer!
Normally my Cooking School posts are more instructional, but today I just wanted to write a note of encouragement to all of those people out there who want to learn to cook, or change the way they cook, but aren’t sure where to start. You can do this! You are not behind. Jump in where you are and don’t feel guilty about how you’ve done things in the past.
Over the holidays, I was having a conversation with a family member who is really wanting to get away from convenience foods and fast food, and help her kids start eating healthier foods, but doesn’t know where to start. My husband excitedly showed her the menu planning website we’ve been using lately, filled with things like curry, roasted salmon, and lamb kebabs. It was a bit overwhelming for someone trying to break out of a mac-n-cheese and chicken nugget rut! I know my husband was trying to help, but it’s not realistic to go from the freezer section to 5 homemade meals a week. We didn’t get there overnight and it’s unreasonable to expect anyone else could, either.
I grew up in a family where we ate out a lot (my mom ran a business and worked a ton) but we ate pretty healthy when we ate at home. My mom has always been interested in the latest health trends (she’s all about her chia and flax seed these days) so that balanced out all the Pizza Hut and Golden Corral we ate. My own real food journey started several years ago, when I watched Fast Food Nation. I’ve never been a big fast food eater, but that movie convinced me of the importance of eating foods that were as close to their natural state as possible, and trying to avoid unpronounceable ingredients. Not long after that, I read Animal Vegetable Miracle, and started shopping at farmer’s markets and even joined a CSA for a while. Michael Pollan and the blog Kitchen Stewardship were big influences for me as well.
These days, between a full time job and little kids keeping me busy, don’t have time to volunteer on the CSA farm or even visit the farmer’s market on a regular basis. I focus on cooking and eating a wide variety of foods (including lots of veggies) that are as unprocessed as possible. No, my kids don’t always eat everything I serve them — but at least they’re being exposed to them and seeing them being eaten. (Keep trying, and eventually it will pay off. My 4.5 year old asked for seconds of brussels sprouts the other day.)
Each person has their own reasons for starting to cook and eat healthier. Figure out what your why is — if you base the changes in your eating/cooking off of your values, you will be much more likely to be successful. And I’m here cheering you on!
What or who has influenced the way you cook or eat?