Cook your way to happiness
More and more people are hanging up their aprons and retiring their chopping boards in favour of deliveries to their door. But at what cost to our mental health?
You could, if you so wanted, eat your way around the world in just one week, without ever having to step outside your door, or even get up off the sofa. It could be a poke bowl with fresh tuna chunks one night for a healthyish-kick and a Neapolitan-style pizza oozing with mozzarella the next, devoured in front of your date for the night, Netflix.
It’s become all too easy to get delicious meals delivered straight to our door without having to lift a finger, other than to click ‘confirm’ on a delivery app. In Britain, people made 673 million food orders between 2017-2018. That’s the equivalent to everyone in the country ordering ten takeaways each a year. That’s a lot of pizza.
And as the number of delivery boxes piles up, home cooking is rapidly decreasing. One in eight of us avoid cooking from scratch and a quarter of British people can cook just three tried and tested recipes. It’s no surprise that the founder of one of the most downloaded delivery apps can only cook an omelette.
But if the kitchen is the heart of the home and the way to a person’s heart is through their stomach, then takeaway culture is taking away much more than just home-cooked meals.
As our lives become increasingly hectic, carving out time to cook can be a real struggle. Returning home after work often calls for something quick and convenient. But cooking for yourself and others can punctuate your day in a way that getting a quick delivery fix cannot.
And we’re not talking complicated molecular gastronomy here, you can knock up dinner in the same time it takes to get food delivered to your door. Pasta, a piece of fish, a cheese omelette – meals can be inexpensive, quick and easy to make.
Taking the time to cook something from scratch, even if it is food that goes from the fridge to the pan to your plate in under 10 minutes forces you to stop, remove yourself from the pressures of the day, and be completely in the moment.
Cooking is one of the most mindful things we can do because it flexes all our senses.
The feel of peeling away the skin of an onion and the coolness of the tears that trickle down your cheek, because so what, you’re crying freely over the kitchen counter!
The hard crunch of the knife as it chops through a carrot is enough to anchor you in the present. The smell of a simmering tomato pasta sauce and the sight of a plateful of steaming hot food served to loved ones around a table set with linen napkins and topped-up wine glasses is as much a gift to yourself as it is to others.
Start, not by thinking about the food, but about the atmosphere. Choose to cook from a recipe book, rather than from a screen. It will elevate the experience, and save your phone from being coated in floury fingerprints. Turn down the lighting, turn up your favourite podcast, clear the washing up and tie a freshly laundered apron around your waist to mark the beginning of your time in the kitchen. Whatever the finished dish tastes like, the time it took to make will have been delicious.