I’m Sure I’ll Wake Up and Know How to Cook Any Day Now…


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.