There can be so many reasons you do what you do. For me cooking has been a longtime love. However, even when I was in high school and just starting to dapple in the kitchen, I was motivated because of a love of people. Cooking and baking hold so much power to show love, to bring comfort, to properly nourish and build up a person, and even to heal.
And while I love to cook for the sake of cooking, it’s a good thing that I am motivated by love for my family. Let me tell you, there are many times when I would much rather not go through the work of it. And sometimes I don’t, and we end up eating out, or making something a little lackluster at home. Life is undoubtably busy, and yet there is something that continues to draw me back to making food from scratch at home.
I had learned to cook some basic dishes and had greatly enjoyed baking in high school when I told my parents that I’d like to take over cooking dinners for the family. We agreed that if I could do it in a certain budget it would be best, so that my parents could save money. So, with a pantry full of some items, and a low weekly budget, I plunged into the challenge of making wholesome meals from scratch. It really was a crash course on cooking on a budget! I struggled with fitting everything in on my budget, and often had to cross items off my list once at the store. But I found it a relaxing and beautiful thing to serve a hearty lentil soup, or Swedish whole wheat pancakes, or a chicken curry to my family for dinner. There is nothing quite like putting dinner on the table knowing that you’ve done your best to make a healthy, delicious dinner for everyone. Like all rustic arts, it’s not always very refined, and it doesn’t last long, but it’s so worth it.
That same love carried me through feeding my husband and me, and then expanded to include our children. I still remember the thrill of watching Elena, as a two year old, chow down on a homemade whole wheat cracker that I had carefully made for her. I hadn’t made that type of cracker before, and had had to change the recipe so that it could be soaked. It was with a little anxiety and thinking on my feet that the recipe had come together. But as I watched her enjoy the cracker and reach for another, my heart brimmed up with happiness. You certainly can’t get that feeling when handing your child a cracker out of a box!
Note that it certainly isn’t always like that.
While Elena proved to be a good eater, in liking a wide variety of nourishing foods when she was younger, as she has gotten older she has discovered her own opinions on what she likes and dislikes that often conflicts with my dinner plans. Sometimes when trying something new, it doesn’t turn out. Other times, I am distracted with other commitments and it’s quite hard to keep up on dinner. It is certainly a sacrifice of time and money, and can have it’s moments of frustration, but then again, don’t all things of worth take sacrifice and have moments of frustration?
While what we are eating and how well I succeed in feeding us as well as I want to ebbs and flows with the changing seasons of my life, I have never regretted the time, commitment, and love it takes to make food for my family. Here are some thoughts I had on what I am grateful for when cooking my own food.
1. I am grateful for the significance of a homemade meal.
Have you ever noticed how “flat” eating out often can be? It’s not that the food isn’t good, because it often can be. But there is a certain type of love and glow that surrounds a homemade meal that just can’t be made up for.
2. I am grateful for the opportunity to provide better food for my family.
I love watching my girls eat better foods, like traditional fats, grassfed meats, vegetables, and soaked beans and grains. It makes me happy seeing them enjoy good food.
3. I am grateful for the opportunity to help shape my children’s palate and for shaping their food memories around nourishing food.
I love that I get to create food memories for my girls that involves good food. They don’t eat candy, unless it’s homemade. They think that cake and ice cream is quite special (even when made healthy). My oldest loves snacking on dried anchovies, rice and soy sauce, and adores salmon. I am hoping that their food memories from the growing up years supplies them with a palate honed into nourishing food.
4. I am grateful for the chance to show love to my husband and my children through food.
From the beginning I’ve enjoyed cooking good food for my husband. And, while he doesn’t enjoy cooking quite like I do, he has made his fair share of food for me through the years too. I’ve made many special meals for birthdays and anniversaries. It allows me one more way to say, “I love you”.
5. I am grateful for the chance to help my family’s health.
We recently brought Elena to a doctor for help with some minor health concerns. He was so encouraging, as he felt like she would have likely suffered much more serious health concerns if we hadn’t been so active in feeding her well through her life. While when one goes through all of the work of feeding your child a pure diet, you want 100% perfect health, it was very encouraging to me that what I had done had indeed made a difference.
In the hustle and bustle of life, it pays to slow down for a second to remember the beauty in what you have been given. I am grateful for our many blessings. One, out of many, is the chance to make a difference with the food that I cook. It certainly not always perfect, but I am grateful for it all the same.
Why do you cook? And what are you grateful for?