Cooking – a caring, calming, and creative activity

by Carmen Visser

It seems that most people view cooking in one of the following two ways: a frustrating chore that needs to be done for basic human survival or an enjoyable activity that reaps benefits in many ways.

The first category of people likely sees cooking as the exercise that transforms ingredients into home-cooked meals. Furthermore, they will likely jump at any chance to avoid cooking, such as ordering takeaways. However, the second category of people understands the art behind cooking. They see cooking as more than just “preparing food” and it is so much more.

Cooking is one of the easiest ways to relax and let your mind reflect. While preparing food, you need to keep a high level of focus because the consequences of losing concentration are quite severe – a cut finger, burnt food or a fire. Maintaining this level of focus can be a form of meditation.

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Additionally, cooking is also a cost-saving practice! Making food at home is often much cheaper than buying ready-made meals, ordering takeout or eating at a restaurant. Plus, you get to eat the leftovers later or repurpose them into another meal.

Preparing a home-cooked meal is also a great form of self-love. As a human, one of your basic needs is food. This is one of the most important advantages of cooking – the delicious, nutritious meal you get to eat afterwards!

Furthermore, preparing a tasty and healthy meal for yourself is a way to provide the nutrition you need in a nurturing manner. Bustle also argues that cooking for your loved ones is a caring and deeply satisfying activity, especially if they enjoy the meal.

In addition to home-cooked food being cheaper than other forms, it also tends to be much healthier. This is mainly because you control every single ingredient that gets incorporated into the meal, which makes you much more aware of what you are eating.

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According to Well + Good, you tend to eat a more extensive variety of food when cooking yourself. While ordering a burger at a takeout several times a week might not get boring, making the same meal several times a week will.

Focusing more on the activity itself, cooking can be viewed as a skill or a hobby. It is an activity you can spend hours learning, practising and perfecting. There is a never-ending range of recipes, skills and flavour combinations to discover.

Some of the great skills that come alongside cooking include the knowledge of flavours, creativity and time-management skills. The more you practice your cooking skills and experiment with new recipes, the more satisfaction you will feel with your progress. Plus, you get to taste all the scrumptious successes!

Additionally, cooking is a great practice to pair with other things. While multitasking with food preparation and other things can take time, it is a great way to get things done. Here are a few things to do while you cook: listen to music (my personal favourite), watching an episode of a series, phone a friend, listen to an episode of a podcast or listen / watch an academic lecture.

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Another benefit of cooking is the social aspect of it! Many social events surround the idea of food, so cooking together is yet another way to bond with your loved ones. You will find that many of our popular past times feature the preparation of food in a social setting, such as having a braai and watching sport. Aetna also argues that eating a meal that you’ve made with other people is a great bonding experience.

The final benefit of cooking, and probably my favourite, is the flexibility of it. When you prepare food, you get to decide exactly what food you want to make, what ingredients you want to use and how long you want to spend in the kitchen. This flexibility makes it a excellent daily activity as you can easily fit it into your schedule.

While cooking is a fantastic activity for your physical, mental and emotional health, it is essential to let yourself take a night or two off when you are not feeling up to it. It is supposed to be an enjoyable pastime, not a chore.

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