I’m operating under the assumption that knowing how to cook, much like puberty, is something that just happens to you overnight at a certain age. I hope I am right about this, and I hope it happens to me soon, because I am getting a little tired of having cereal and personal-sized bags of microwave popcorn for dinner.
Not only would it be nice to eat real meals, but I’d also like to feel like a real adult. Growing up is so much more ambiguous than it used to be. Being an adult is not about reaching a certain age; it is more a state of being. Sometimes, I do feel pretty adult, like when I am deciding how much money to allocate to my 401k. But other times, like when I am making a bowl of instant pudding for dinner, I feel like I’m erasing some of my progress. So if I can learn how to cook, I can tip the scale back toward adulthood just enough to feel respectable.
I think the first step is getting excited about food. And I am there. There are hundreds of recipes on Pinterest that I’d love to try making, but they all involve cheese, biscuits, or bacon. Despite what I said about the bags of popcorn and bowls of pudding, eating healthy is important to me. So while I would be very excited to make a bowl of cheese soup, I won’t let myself. Things that usually catch my eye, like ‘Caprese Dip’ or ‘Pepperoni Casserole,’ are out of the picture. So I am left with recipes that involve more fresh and healthful ingredients, like broccoli slaw or cauliflower mashed potatoes, and no offense to the broccoli family, but those recipes are a little harder to get excited about.
Even if I am able to get pumped for produce, there is the issue of expiration. Produce tends to spoil at a much faster rate than I can eat it. Partially because I buy it thinking, Ha, now you’ll be forced to eat this! but get home and think, But I don’t wanna eat that! and reach for another bag of popcorn. But even when I am on board, it’s hard to beat the clock. If I buy a bag of spinach, I have to eat it for three days straight to finish it before it goes bad. This issue is often multiplied when I am ambitious enough to make something with multiple ingredients. Now I have seven perishable items per meal sitting in my fridge quickly expiring and it’s a race against time to eat them all.
Since I don’t enjoy buying food only to throw it away days later, I try to stick to meals with very few ingredients (a bag of popcorn only has one!), and I diligently consume those ingredients by eating the same meal every day. When I get ham at Costco, it’s Ham and Eggs Week. When Harris Teeter has a BOGO sale on Progresso, it’s Can of Soup Week. When I buy that bag of spinach and need to get rid of it, it’s Green Smoothie Week. When I haven’t gone to the grocery store in a while and I’m feeling lazy, it’s Cereal Week. So technically I am eating a well-balanced diet…it’s just over the course of an entire month. But week-to-week it’s more all or nothing; protein one week, grains another, fruits the next, and for Can of Soup Week, a healthy focus on sodium. I’m no expert, but I don’t think this Food Group of the Week approach is ideal. So I think I might need a new strategy for properly sustaining myself while I’m waiting for my cooking gene to kick in.