How To Relieve Your Stress by Cooking Dinner

Apr 18, 2009 by

Mom serving dinner happy

“How do you have something different to eat every day?” my daughter’s school friends asked her at lunch one day.  The answer to the mystery:  her mom cooks every day, unless we are eating leftovers cooked previously.  While I do have numerous other personal shortcomings, I do cook. My daughter usually takes something homemade in her lunch. Today, for example, she took a colorful, flavorful salad of raw fennel, roasted beets, oranges and kalamata olives with a dressing of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, fennel seeds and orange peel.

Most of the other girls’ moms “don’t cook,” they reported. Or they cook about once a week.  A lot of the girls buy lunch at the cafeteria—institutional food—every day.  One of her friends said that every day for many years, she’d had a ham sandwich, a piece of fruit and a packaged rice Krispie treat in her lunch.  She finally told her mom recently that she didn’t want ham sandwiches anymore, and now she gets a daily Lunchable: a plastic package of ultra-processed, manufactured, so-called food.

If no one cooks at home, I can only guess that a family goes to restaurants or eats take-out, fast food, frozen meals, sandwiches or cold cereal, or worse, to keep bodies and souls together.  All those options seem either too expensive, too unhealthy or too dreary, or all of the above.  I can’t imagine that people who live this way are happy about it.

There’s no denying that home-cooked meals, made with love and in not-too-massive quantities, are generally superior to industrial or commercial food made by strangers in huge vats—where government inspectors come to look for and often find toxins or poor quality ingredients—all for the purpose of making money.

Don’t all families want to have a good cook in their midst to feed their children well?  In their heart of hearts, doesn’t everybody want to eat delicious, nutritious homemade food at their tables with their families? Parents have their own reasons why they don’t manage to do it. Many are stressed, stretched too far already without trying to cook.

I’m here to suggest that you can do it, though, especially when you realize that cooking at home for your kids will lessen your stress, rather than add to your burden of care.

Cooking dinner can be a welcome change of pace at the end of the day. A change is as good as a rest, so unless you cook for your job, coming home in the evening and doing something different is refreshing—especially if you are making something real, valuable and beneficial, not to mention enticing. Especially if you can get some help, for the clean-up in particular.

Using your hands and your five senses in a creatively, beautifully and deliciously productive way that expresses love and care is daily recreation. At the same time we are helping our kids getting familiar with Real Food, and conditioning them to like what’s good for them.

“It is our love of real processes… that keeps us sane,” writes Robert Farrar Capon in The Supper of the Lamb: A Culinary Reflection. “What [our children] need most of all in this vale of sorrows is the sight of men who relish reality.”

Cooking from scratch with fresh vegetables and real meat is meant to be satisfying, not drudgery.  It’s not meant to make your life more difficult, but rather more real.  Home cooking is authentic life in a way that heating up frozen entrees or take-out food in soggy containers and then sitting in front of the TV can never be.

So replace a little TV watching with cooking something exciting. See if you don’t feel more alive and energized for being able to make something appealing and healthy to eat and to offer to your family.

Baby steps are good. One more home cooked meal per week than you’re doing now is a worthwhile, positive move.  The more you cook, the better you can feel about what they’re eating. And, I predict, the more you’ll enjoy it and want to do more. I’m sure you’ll all feel healthier, too.

And next time the kids talk at the lunch table, you and your child can be the proud ones.

Related Post:

Ratatouille: Everybody Can Cook

© Sacred Appetite / Anna Migeon / 18 April 2009 / All rights reserved


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