Growing up, we never ate out. And when I say never, I mean I could probably count on my hands the times my dad brought home big buckets of fried chicken or store-bought pizza. I don’t remember going to an actual restaurant until I was a teenager. (The restaurant was in Las Vegas, and my mom embarrassed Chrisy by asking what time the buffet opened, but Mom pronounced it like it’s spelled.)
Mom was always in the kitchen fixing meals, and we were always in there either helping or eating or chatting. Honestly, how could a single-income family with thirteen children feed everyone if Mom didn’t know how to cook? So, Mom taught herself to cook, and we all learned from her.
When my husband and I got engaged, I asked him if he was a picky eater and I was relieved to hear him say no. But then we got married and I realized that his definition of picky and mine didn’t exactly align.
Luckily, I have an understanding husband who eats whatever I make without complaint, but over the course of our 16 years of marriage, I have learned the value of knowing how to cook. When we had two small children and Mark was in school, we had the smallest imaginable food budget. Looking back, I still can’t believe we made it work. We didn’t have the money to buy frozen foods we could just pop in the oven, not to mention eating out. I prepared and/or cooked everything from our bread to our desserts to our every meal, because we couldn’t even afford cold cereal.
That skill came in handy again when we lived in New Zealand because I figured out how to make the kinds of food — crackers and cookies and biscuits — we couldn’t find there and I made them often. I learned to make tortillas and enchilada sauce and pumpkin cookies from an actual pumpkin instead of from a can.
Now that I’m gluten-free, sugar-free, and milk-free, and my husband eats egg-free, I’ve had to rearrange the way I cook all over again. There are all sorts of products available that cater to what we need, but they’re expensive. (Like $8 for a loaf of bread. Ack!) It’s also important to me to know exactly what I’m eating. I don’t like the idea of putting things into my body that I can’t pronounce and that don’t exist in the natural world. The point is, that without the knowledge I gained growing up, we wouldn’t be eating as healthy and we’d likely be spending twice as much on food just so we could eat according to what our bodies accept.
And truth be told, I’d much rather spend money on books and clothes than on food.
I know that learning to cook isn’t popular among a lot of people. We make mistakes and sometimes the food doesn’t turn out the way we hope. It takes time and effort. Some view it as a step back for women, who should be working outside the home instead of learning to keep house. But what husband or wife would complain about their spouse cooking the things they both like and saving money in the process?
Consistent cooking can create opportunities you couldn’t afford, or wouldn’t have otherwise. I’m just saying, learning to cook and bake is a good idea. You’ll never regret it. I haven’t.