Just over a year ago, I accidentally embarked on a project to cook every day. Trace my journey on social media through the hashtags #cookeveryday and #boldtfamilyeats.
When we launched our meat subscription program last March, I realized that I could not confidently publish recipes that I hadn’t tried myself. It didn’t feel authentic. Plus, practically speaking, I needed original photography for the newsletters. Yikes. What did I get myself into?
I’ll be the first to admit I struggle with menu planning and cooking meals. Some days, I’m brilliantly organized and inspired in the kitchen. Other times, I stand in front of the fridge, scratching my head, with absolutely no idea what to make — a situation only made worse because I didn’t plan my grocery list in advance and the fridge pickings are slim.
A year later, I am pleasantly pleased with myself for accomplishing my goal of cooking every day and surprised at how cooking dinner has moved from drudgery to delight.
How did this happen?
Practice makes Perfect
By cultivating my cooking habit, I built confidence in my culinary skills. The more I cooked, the smarter and faster I became. “Work smarter, not harder” has always been my mantra. Now, I can get a meal on the table, from scratch, in the same time that it would take for pizza to be delivered.
Now, I don’t stress as much about what to make for dinner. I now have an arsenal of recipes posted on the fridge that the family loves and can be on the table in less than an hour.
Now, I can read a recipe and envision how it will taste, what flavours would complement the main dish and assemble a balanced meal.
Now, I can re-imagine leftovers the next day into something delicious but not repetitious. We waste less food — which is better for the budget and environment.
Now, inviting company for dinner doesn’t feel as formidable. We’re cultivating the art of hospitality in our home. A meal doesn’t have to be fancy, just made with love!
Cooking Relaxes Me
Planning menus and grocery lists forced me to deliberately slow down and create space in my life for reading and thinking. Now, on weekends, I plunk myself down in an overstuffed chair, with a cup of tea and a cookbook or two to plan meals and write the shopping list. Surprisingly, this has turned into a truly a relaxing, creative AND productive ritual — one that I anticipate. How unexpectedly wonderful this little bit of “me time” has turned out to be!
I encourage you to find an app, a magazine subscription or cookbook series that inspires you and fits your lifestyle. I rely heavily on Martha Stewart’s weekly recipe emails, Lucinda Scala Quinn’s book “Mad Hungry Cooking for Men and Boys”, and the Epicurious app on my phone for well curated, guaranteed successful recipes.
I also depend on my well stocked pantry — it’s amazing how dinner can be concocted from pasta, a can of beans, cheese and tomato sauce. My basic pantry has saved supper especially when I haven’t made it to the grocery store that week.
Cooking Connects Us
Because Kevin knew this was my pet project for the year, he figured I might need some help. So, he started coming in early from the shop to help with washing, chopping and prepping food. Note to self, “I should have done this 26 years ago!”.
We’ve found a wonderful new cooking groove together. We share the preparation, maybe a glass of wine, and visit about our day while we cook. It’s a lovely way to unwind and transition from the work day into our family life together.
And, our kids see us sharing and enjoying household tasks, which can only be a good thing!
Cooking Nourishes Us
Often, we reduce meal time to the rapid consumption of nutrients and caloric fuel to get us to the next event on the calendar. And, somehow cooking has been relegated to the lowest rung on the household chore ladder. We are a time starved society who have handed cooking over to fast food and takeout joints.
However, when we’re personally invested in the food on our plates, food becomes more than fuel. We tend to slow down, savour the food, and honour the work that went into it. Somehow, a meal just tastes better.
Cooking Enriches Us
Yes, we eat well at home, but we eat even better when we go out! All the money we’re saving on fast food goes into a family night out. We like to support the locally owned Saskatoon restaurants like Primal, UNA, Picaro, The Hollows, Odd Couple, Ayden, or Sticks & Stones — not only because they’re Pine View customers, but because the food is amazingly creative, flavourful and worth every penny. Plus, our hungry sons always make time for a night out when mom and dad are paying — it’s a surefire way to buy time with our kids!
Admittedly, no matter how you slice it, cooking takes time and work and someone in the household must make time for it. Now, priorities shift as I carve time out of my workday to cook. I close the office door on my messy desk at 5:30 p.m. instead of finishing that one last email. What isn’t done waits until tomorrow. I don’t race out of the house to yoga or meetings at 6:30 p.m. anymore — 8 p.m. suits me much better and I plan accordingly. Who knew that I could have more control of my calendar AND cook? I’m not missing out on anything. In fact, I’m more conscious about how I choose to spend my time. Instead of feeling rushed and over extended, I feel more balanced and contented. Wow!
The most delightful part of this whole journey is the unexpected gift of time that cooking provides me in this fast-paced world — time to relax, create, connect and share with my family and friends in a beautiful and pleasurable way. I hope cooking and sharing meals can do the same for you.