As a stay-at-home Dad, cooking is something that I learned to do because of two reasons. My generously expanding waistline as I approach 40 (and all the health conditions that come with that), and because I wanted to learn how to cook. I can’t tell you how important it is to cook at home if you want to lose weight or maintain your weight. It is pretty much the key to losing weight for most parents. If you could only focus on one thing and it was exercising or cooking at home, then cooking at home is your best choice. If you don’t trust me, why do you think every single fitness program talks about nutrition, nutrition, and nutrition. What I didn’t factor in was that cooking everyday is hard. As in super almost impossible duper hard.
Why it is hard to cook at home
If you are a parent then your time is already stretched thin, so you don’t have the option you did in your 20’s of working out all the time to combat your takeout only diet. I hate to break it to you but your metabolism is slow as mud, your muscles are probably not in peak physical condition, and you are eating more than your fair share of takeout food. Not to mention, if you have a long commute of sitting in the car, and a sedentary desk job. I’m not sure you could draw up a better plan for consistently gaining weight. Which is why it worked so well on me, I was consistent as a rock, 5 lbs a year for 10 years straight yo. If you can do math that is 50 lbs from ages 25 -35. Talk about consistency. Ok, enough self-pity, how do we beat this weight gain back.
To put it simply, your life is pretty much against you getting into any type of shape. If you aren’t the type to wake up at 4:30 am in the morning and get in your workout, then you better learn to cook. As in buy a non-stick pan and a cookbook today. It is the best way to control what you eat because you know what is in the food. Your sodium intake will be a ton less because you won’t be putting in the crazy amounts of salt that the restaurants have in their menu. Trust me, if you have to physically dump in a handful of salt into the food you are cooking, you will think twice.
Give yourself some slack
First off, this stuff is hard. I mean really really hard to do day in day out. I’m not talking about researching a recipe on the internet and cooking it one time on the weekend. That is easy. That is what I used to do when I cooked 1x every two weeks. I equate that to playing flag football or playing hoops 2x a month. It is fun, you are going to be super sore, and you aren’t getting any better.
What I described is what I call dual-income cooking. I call it this because this is what we did when we were dual income. Almost exactly, and from talking to other parents this was what they did too. You have no time, plus no incentive, plus it is hard to get good at cooking when you don’t have the time. I mean it is pretty hard to convince yourself to cook beef and broccoli at home when you can buy it at the Chinese restaurant for like $8.50.
However what if I told you that you will gain 2 lbs from that takeout beef and broccoli vs maintaining your weight if you cook it at home. Would that change your mind? How about if you only gained 1 lb? For me, that completely changes the equation. You know what l lb is in the form of exercise. That is 3,500 calories which is the equivalent of running on the treadmill for 5 days a week for 30 minutes a day. I’m just telling you the most optimal thing for weight loss is to learn to cook beef and broccoli metaphorically speaking. At least that’s what I tell myself.
What happens if you start cooking at home
Your tastebuds will for sure change. It will be subtle at first but you are going to realize how salty everything is. Like for real. You don’t realize how salty restaurant, box, microwave food is until you stop eating it for a bit. They are crazy salty, as in your entire day’s worth of sodium in 1 meal. This will have the dual effect of making it less rewarding for going out to eat because the food isn’t as good, and your home meals will taste better because they are more in line with your tastebuds.
You won’t be as tired. You know how you feel after you eat fast food, takeout food, or even sit down restaurant food. You feel tired… You know why you feel tired, well that is because you have a crap ton of sodium and probably fat in your system. That makes you tired. You won’t feel as tired after you do your own cooking unless you are making fettucini (that will still make you tired).
I was the dual-income non-cooker in the family (I know, big surprise the Dad was the non-cooker, lol), and now I’m the stay-at-home Dad primary cook.
Top 5 Reasons why cooking everyday is hard
- Dishes – An amazing amount of dishes pile up every day. I mean we do the dishwasher 2x a day! What family does the dishwasher two times a day! Mo’cooking, mo’dishes.
- Creativity – Have you tried to come up with a rotation of 10 dishes for a two-week time frame? Yeah, try that on infinity. When I started I had a hard time getting a good rotation of dishes, but after a lot of failed meals, we got there, eventually. No one thinks being creative is hard work, but when you have no cooking skills at first, you don’t have the luxury of choosing from the cookbook. When you can only reliably cook 5 dishes, your creativity is significantly harder.
- Perseverance – You suck at first. Not only do you suck at cooking at first, but your family will tell you that you suck at cooking, subtly or not so subtly. Your best-case scenario is they just don’t eat your food at the dinner table, your worst-case scenario is they don’t eat your food and they actively tell you it is bad. This most likely will be after you spend hours zeroing in on the recipe you want to try, get the ingredients at the grocery store, and cooking for an hour.
- Your Tools suck at first – If you do any handiwork around the house, then you know that the right tool can make all the difference in the world when building or fixing something. Having a drill to do pilot holes or screw into wood, instead of doing this by hand can make a job 1 hour or 7 hours. That goes with cooking. The right pan is the difference between gross looking wilty stir fry, and restaurant-quality beef and broccoli.
- Unappreciated – Thankfully, I don’t have this problem, but almost every home cook I know has this problem. My wife appreciates my cooking, but as I said I’m a stay-at-home Dad. I know a lot of wives that get next to zero appreciation for all the hard work they do cooking. That straight-up sucks.
From having worked a hard corporate job, I can tell you that there are fewer things harder than cooking consistently day-in and day-out. We aim for cooking at home 5 days a week, if that happens I call that a win!
So that is my top 5 reasons why cooking everyday is hard. If you would like more articles like this, I’m happy to write them.
If you are wanting to try some quick and good recipes, here are a couple that I always go to for weeknights.
- Tatsuta Pork – Super quick, and a family favorite in my house.
- Tonjiru Soup – A Japanese soup with pork, carrots, daikon, onions in a dashi and miso soup.
- Chicken and Broccoli – Chicken thighs and broccoli and an amazing stir fry sauce, and completed in 30 minutes.
- Fried Rice with Chinese sausage – The first recipe I tried cooking, and it is what I cook the most.
- Kitsune Udon – Easy, quick, and the ingredients are always on hand.
If you want some tips for how to cook more consistently everyday, here are a couple articles that are helpful: