The joy of not cooking
Lazy cooks, rejoice! Turns out eating well doesn’t have to mean going all Mkr-like
If you can’t stand the kitchen, get out of the heat – and try these alternatives
The irony? I’m a health writer with 20 years of experience and a degree in nutritional science. I know that cooking is the cheapest, healthiest and waist-friendliest way to eat. People who cook at home eat fewer kilojoules and less sugar, fat and carbs than those who have an ongoing love affair with their food delivery app. Studies even show that those of us who regularly sit down to homecooked meals are happier and may even live longer.
Yet the average household spends more than ever on dining out. In the 1980s, only about one-fifth of the food we consumed was had out; 30 years later, that figure has risen to one-third. Part of the reason is obvious: we don’t cook because we don’t have to. Sweating over a stove has been replaced by dial-a-meal. And about one in 10 at-home meals includes a pre-prepared item from a supermarket.
THE ROOT OF IT
Still, for someone like me, who knows just how good cooking can be for a person, you’d expect a little more lovin’ for the oven. The thing is, at the end of a long day, the last thing I want to devote my energy to is dismembering a flaccid raw chicken or attempting to recreate my husband’s favourite pho. I’m tired; I would rather open a box of soup and read a book, or give myself a paper cut, dip it in lemon juice and then listen to it sizzle.
Another reason I secretly believe the word ‘cereal’ is Latin for ‘pancakes take too long’ is that cooking chafes my inner feminist. Psychology professor Dr Ramani Durvasula says
I’m definitely not alone:
“Even though more men are learning how to cook, it still has this stereotyped, 1950s, ‘woman in the kitchen’ vibe. If you’re trying to juggle being a professional, a wife, a mother, it can feel really imprisoning.”
Even hunting and gathering gets my apron in a bunch. Between the supermarket and (several) pit stops for organic non-gmo essentials, many of us are grocery shopping more often than we have sex – even as we cook less. Then food prep takes forever, eating takes four minutes and afterwards… hello dishes!
GET OUT OF THE HEAT
Look, my family will never arrive home to a meltingly tender rib eye with merlot demi-glace. And guess what?
There’s no shame in my game. I’m not gunning for a place on
Masterchef. Yes, there might be some who blame the slow death of cooking on women leaning into their jobs, but there are plenty of career women who also make a mean brisket. The main difference, Durvasula says, is I don’t enjoy cooking and, as such, dragging the food processor out of the pantry feels oppressive to me. One woman’s glass casserole dish is another’s glass ceiling.
In other words, if you can’t stand the kitchen, just get out of the heat – and erase any ‘I’m lame’ feelings. If it pisses you off, Durvasula says, “stress is probably going to negate the benefits from home cooking”. You don’t need to eat Pizza Hut; there are a zillion healthy options for filling up. Bon appetit!