The joy of not cook­ing

Lazy cooks, re­joice! Turns out eat­ing well doesn’t have to mean going all Mkr-like

Women's Health Australia - - NOVEMBER 2017 - By Leslie Gold­man

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!

PAN LABYRINTH

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