Our Convenience Culture Precludes Cooking

In this profit-driven, “keeping up with the Joneses” world of insensate consumerism, we sometimes (maybe even often) end up doing things without really considering whether those things are sensible or good for us. Many people eat processed food now, almost exclusively, and the primary reason is convenience. We buy bread from the grocery store rather than making it, even though homemade bread is less expensive and, lacking the additives and preservatives of store bread, healthier. And the fragrance of fresh-baked bread…heavenly.

You could argue that since people spend so much time working, there’s little time left for preparing meals. Is that really true? Think about time spent watching television or surfing the web after work – couldn’t that, sometimes, be spent making inexpensive, nutritious meals? You could even throw ingredients into the slow cooker in the morning and have something tasty to eat in the evening (beans, for example). With a couple of pounds of cooked beans in the fridge, you can make burritos, beans and rice, and other quick meals. That doesn’t sound like an unreasonable amount of effort, does it?

Moving from a heat-it-up-the-microwave to a home-cooked meal approach takes time. Incremental steps help: break out that slow cooker and make a pot roast or stew – or lasagne! – and you’ll see how much better it tastes than something out of a box. By making it yourself, you can control the sodium content, as well as omitting additives. If you like leftovers, make a big batch and freeze some for later. The spaghetti you’re tired of eating now will be welcome later when you’re looking for a quick meal (that assumes that you’re not someone who is perfectly happy eating spaghetti every night – and there’s nothing wrong with it!).

It’s shocking that there are people don’t even know how to cook basic meals now, no doubt due at least in part to our convenience-centric culture. If you don’t cook often, you could start by making something easy, like beef and potato soup. You just brown stew meat in a dutch oven, add chopped onions and minced garlic, add water and cubed potatoes. Simmer until the potatoes are tender (low and slow, for a couple of hours, ideally), season with salt and pepper to taste, and viola! Serve with crusty bread and you have an easy home-cooked meal. And be proud that you made it.

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