Learning to cook fosters life skills


Canva by Alex Rosa.

Zack Kunkle, Copy Editor

This previously ran in our February 2023 issue.

Most of my life, I wasn’t a very good cook. Well, that’s an understatement. I didn’t cook at all. I let my parents cook, so I didn’t have to worry about poisoning myself. I’d eat whatever was made, or whatever was left over, and if there was nothing else, I’d make a bowl of cereal. I was a pretty simple eater. It didn’t matter what was on my plate, because I wasn’t going to cook something else, so I might as well eat what’s in front of me.

But that all changed in the past year. I had to start cooking for myself a lot more, and I realized there was a big difference between relying on someone else to cook for you, and relying on yourself to cook. 

I barely knew how to cook in the beginning — I hardly even knew how to cook eggs — and I ate quite a bit of store-bought foods: oven-made pizzas, Hot Pockets, various cereals, those kinds of things. They were simple and easy to make, and I didn’t have to worry about having time to cook because the food took such a low effort to make.

However, as time went on, I got tired of eating those types of basic foods. I felt gross just eating Hot Pocket after Hot Pocket instead of something I made myself. So I started teaching myself how to cook. It was a slow process, one that I’m still going through, but over time I learned how to cook at least the most basic of foods: grilled cheese, scrambled eggs, and other pretty simple cooked foods. As I got better at cooking those — or rather, as I got better at making less mistakes while cooking them — I started teaching myself how to make slightly more advanced cooked foods. Things like hamburgers, mashed potatoes, and breakfast foods like pancakes, bacon, and waffles soon joined my cooking arsenal.

Now very recently, I’ve been learning to combine different foods that I cook. Most notably, I’ve gotten better at making Shepherd’s Pie — a favorite of mine — which combines hamburger, mashed potatoes, and various vegetables. I’ve also learned how to combine rice with certain spices and other foods to make more interesting meals. Cooking full meals has become much more trivial to me. It’s freeing in a way, being able to cook all kinds of foods. It allows you to stop eating whatever you see at the store, and start cooking what you’re in the mood for.

Something I’ve noticed as I’ve gotten better at cooking is how very expensive pre-made foods are. It makes sense; the company has put effort into making the meal for you, so of course they’re going to charge you more for the food, often as high as twice the price of the food itself. 

However, buying the ingredients to cook foods and then cooking the meal yourself not only gives you the satisfaction of eating your own, home cooked meal, but it’s noticeably less expensive. 

I’ve been spending around two-thirds of what I had initially been spending on food. It doesn’t take very long, either; a sacrifice of around 5 to 10 minutes is worth it for the money you save, especially because as you get better at cooking, the time wasted during cooking can be minimized.

Another interesting thing I’ve learned is how fun it is to cook with another person, be it a friend, family member, or general colleague. Not only does it take less effort to make the food because the work is split up among the participants, but it’s also much more enjoyable to be able to discuss the food you’re making — or even just being able to make small talk — while you’re cooking. 

Not only that, but it also allows you and your cooking colleague to cook more complex meals; having more people working in the kitchen means less time and effort while also making more food. 

It’s certainly a way to spice up the cooking experience, and make it a bit more lustrous.

All in all, cooking is an incredibly important skill to have. It can make you more independent, and on top of cutting down your weekly costs on food, it can allow you to cook more of what you actually want to eat instead of what’s just lying around. It’s truly a skill everyone should seek to learn and hone.