55 Pounds Down:Learn to Cook

Seriously, you’re how old now? If you can’t cook for yourself, if you’re relying on fast food and boxed meals, you’re setting yourself up for a world of hurt. You need fresh ingredients, which these things distinctly lack. You need less processed stuff, which these things have in high, high degrees.

I’m not saying become a chef. You don’t need a culinary degree or specialized training. You have YouTube and Google. Use them. Find things.

Find things you like already and make fresher versions of them.

Learn to scramble an egg.

I eat at home most nights, and prepare my lunches most days. Sometimes, I have pre-prepared things. Sometimes, cooking that night involves setting the oven to a temperature and popping something in. Wait for it. Wait. And boom: dinner!

Some nights, I use all the burners on the stovetop, with vegetables in two or three, maybe some boiling water, some sort of protein. I experiment. I have made utterly disgustingly failed experiments and ended up eating out anyway. I have made things that were edible, or barely so, and was made to swear on the souls of everyone I’ve ever loved that I would never, ever, under any circumstance, attempt that again. But I have also surprised myself.

Generally, people like the way I cook. But I know I’ve got a limited repertoire. I know there are basic things I don’t know. (For instance, my knife handling skills need work; if you’re still lacking an excuse to convince yourself to cook more, read that again: knife handling skills.) I don’t know how to do French sauces.

But I can make several dishes with chicken breasts. I make a mean filet. I can do pork chops. I can handle mushrooms, onions, peppers, zucchini, broccoli, and several other assorted veggie stuffs. I can boil an egg. I can make my own Alfredo sauce from scratch.

I will cheat sometimes. I’ll combine already-ready things with fresh stuff. There’s no rule that says you can’t. But I make an effort to eat less of the processed stuff. Fresh tastes better. It really does. If I have to count the number of carbohydrates I eat in a meal, in a day, and in a week, I want every one of those carbs to count, dammit. I’m entitled. My mouth deserves to be made happy. (I suppose that can be mis-read.) I try to buy locally when I can, and in season things, but I haven’t convinced myself I can’t have grapes from somewhere in South America when I can’t get them from here.

My prediction is this: once you start substituting one or two dinners every week with stuff you make yourself — fresh stuff you make yourself — you’ll do more and more fresh because tasty delicious goodness tastes delicious, and those things in boxes and the frozen aisles just can’t compete.

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