Sometimes bachelors wonder why they should bother to learn to cook. After all, there are deliveries, frozen food, fast food, take out and lots of other ways to feed yourself.
Especially when we’re young, it’s easy to put other things ahead of a good meal. We think we don’t have time to shop, much less cook. But there are strategies for doing these things in a timely and economical way. That’s one of the many things The Bachelor’s Kitchen is about.
Time. When thinking of a strategy to get stuff done, you have to take into consideration a lot of different factors. You also have to be very realistic about it and allow extra time for possible problems, just as you would in planning a project at work. AND you have to set aside that time and not let other things get in the way of accomplishing your project. That’s very hard.
I know people who I’ll call “temporally challenged.” They are very intelligent, very creative, very talented. But their estimates of how long it will take to do something are usually short. If someone says it will take an hour, plan for two. I know from my own experience, that it’s better to allow more time than you think you’ll need. I do that when I’m planning on cooking. If the recipe says the preparation time is 30 minutes, I know I should allow an hour.
So, time management becomes important if you work, have to run errands, take care of your home, clean, shop, cook and still have time to spend with your friends or someone special. The best advice I can give, one shared by other experts on cooking for singles, is to set aside one afternoon or evening a week for cooking. You can make a large dish that gives you meals for several more dinners or lunches during the coming week. Make breakfast burritos and freeze them. Cook up a pot of rice or beans that will provide sides for other meals during the week. Do advance prep for dishes to make fresh later in the week. You can make your own personal pizzas and freeze them for later. You’d be surprised what you can do in just a few hours if you plan ahead. The day to choose is the day of or the day after you do your weekly shopping. If you go to the grocery store on Saturday morning, plan to do your cooking on Saturday afternoon or Sunday afternoon or evening. Plan out your menus in advance to ensure you have everything you need and can add plenty of variety to your meals through the week. Make sure you take a shopping list, organized by section, to the store and stick to it. Most stores have weekly ads or fliers to give you advance notice about what’s on sale. You can build your menus around the things you plan to buy, dig up recipes and make sure you have all the ingredients you need. This thinking ahead can seem to take a lot of time. But once you get started, it can be done fairly quickly in just an hour a week.
Money. Another positive aspect of doing more cooking at home is how much money you save. In most cases, you can buy all the ingredients of a restaurant meal and make it yourself at home for less money than the restaurant bill. Take your lunch to work instead of going to a nearby restaurant, and that’s a savings of $50 a week. Make a breakfast sandwich or your own breakfast burrito and save a lot over the store-bought versions. And I probably don’t have to tell you how much cheaper it is to make coffee at home, even high-end gourmet coffee, than what you’d pay at one of those trendy coffee houses.
That doesn’t mean you can never go to a coffeehouse or restaurant again. Of course you can. But if you cook more at home than eat something made outside the home, you’ll save a ton of money.
Health. Over and over again, we learn that processed foods can be bad for your health because of what they put into them that you would never use at home. Is Sodium Benzoate in your spice rack? How about a tub of guar gum? Of course not. These additives are designed to allow food to sit on the store or pantry shelf longer. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that all these chronic health problems like diabetes and obesity didn’t become epidemic before processed food became a part of our regular diet. The shorter the ingredient list, the better. Making your own food at home, even if it’s not low-fat or especially healthy, is still better for you, in most cases, than what you’d get with pre-made food. At least you know what’s in it.
Cooking at home can take a little time and a little planning. But the money saved and the health benefits will offset that investment in time. Make The Bachelor’s Kitchen a favorite room in your home.