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?
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I cook for some of the same reasons you do. I have always loved to cook. I took over breadmaking for our family when I was a teenager, and enjoyed making special desserts as well. After my husband and I married nearly 13 years ago, we were as poor as church mice…two college students madly in love, but working low-wage jobs. It became a challenge to me to take the $15 I had for groceries every week and eat as healthy as we could. We dined on brown rice and legumes, simple fruits and salads, nut butter and homemade oat bread (and ate meat on Sundays at my parents’ home!) After we finished college, and we both had real jobs, we suffered from unexplained infertility. That frustration and heartbreak led me diligently research something I could control: food. Over a several-year journey, I became familiar with Sally Fallon, Jordan Rubin, Sue Gregg, and other authors promoting ancient, traditional eating practices. When we moved into our new house, we started from scratch with our pantry and fridge: whole, organic foods, soaked and properly prepared. Then, in an undeserved blessing, we had a whirlwind of four children in five years (our newest son was born on his oldest sister’s fifth birthday last week!) It has become my life’s mission to prepare them healthy, nourishing foods. During my third pregnancy, I was diagnosed with celiac, and all three of the older children react to gluten as well. Since then, I have become nearly obsessed with preparing gluten free organic food that doesn’t taste gluten free, even mastering whole-grain, soaked or sprouted yeasted English muffins, buns, and breads. It is a labor of love. There are many things in life I can’t control and can’t protect my children from, but I can nourish them with good foods prepared by my hands. Frugality also drives my reasons for cooking. If I weren’t cooking everything from scratch, I truly believe, with our special diet, that we could easily spend over $1000 a month on groceries. As it is, as a family of six, we spend well below the national average for a family of FOUR! And that’s eating entirely organic and gluten free.
Our family of 5 (that’s three littles under 5 and two adults) has a hard time keeping our grocery bill down under $600. Could you and anyone else here share some tips for saving money without compromising on quality?
I buy all organic produce, butter, oils, grains and legumes and the best quality meats I can find. I make everything from scratch and we are currently in the middle of a 3-month ‘cleanse’ (Body Ecology Diet) which means I’m experimenting with the gluten-free grain-like seeds (millet, buckwheat, quinoa, amaranth).
How do you keep your costs down?
One suggestion for saving on quality meats is to buy from a local farmer in bulk. It requires a large chest or upright freezer. We purchase 1/2 grass fed beef every 12 – 18 months for about $3.50 per pound, hanging weight. Hanging weight is before they trim and cut the beef. However, I ask for ALL bones to use for stock, and organs. So I’m getting most of that weight in final product. Considering grass fed beef alone is around $5-6 per pound, we are getting a great deal! The $3.50 per pound price is for every cut: filet mignon, steaks, roasts, short ribs, brisket, flank steak, oxtail, etc. We also purchase pastured pork (1 per year) and chickens in bulk from local farmers. I highly recommend purchasing meats in bulk if at all possible.
do you have a cook book?
I am a professional Chef, who has, mostly, left the restaurant/catering business to concentrate on teaching kids and families how to cook, grow food and nourish their
themselves. I had someone ask me today, in an interview, what I liked most about being a Chef. I answered, rather quickly, that I liked feeding and nourishing people, and helping them to understand food. I think they were suprised at that answer.
I am grateful for finding this rocky path, and know it makes a difference.
Absolutely beautiful post. I love to cook for similar reasons! I have type 1 diabetes and refuse to let food become a chore or a bore. In the meantime, as I am discovering healthy cooking, I am learning to love food, love creating and serving food to my family that’s healthy, love trying new recipes with my daughter…and I actually prefer eating at home to eating out (never thought I’d say that one!)
As we have evolved our cooking styles over the years (married 34 years next month), we find today that eating out is almost more of a chore than finding something in the refrigerator, freezer or cupboard to eat. My husband is a master at creating great meals with varying ingredients. We strive for organic and eat very little meat, virtually no beef anymore, but organic chicken and wild caught fish with some organic pork. I have GERD and have multitudes of problems eating. Although I don’t have time to make my own bread at this time (I did when my son was little – he had to watch his lunches carefully as kids would steal them), I have found that Great Harvest Bakery has a good gluten-free whole grain bread (I keep hoping they will soon be organic). One slice is satisfying and will make an adequate sandwich, toast, etc. Most gluten-free products seem to me too sweet with a bad texture. I don’t eat breads like I once did, but try to eat good products when I do.
I like the idea of making one’s own crackers. Is the recipe somewhere out on this site? If not, it should be. I learn lots from you folks and appreciate the Nourishing Gourmet and links that I have found here. Oh, like the link for the rice cooker – we love it! That was our “family” Christmas gift this year. We tossed out our old one (recycle of course).
I love soups made with my homemade broths. Early in January we will have a “soup frenzy” as I do a get together with some friends and they bring the complementary items. There is always leftover soup that can be frozen. I do seasonal tax preparation so these are great to take for lunch at work or have for a late dinner and not be too heavy of a meal. I especially like my Three Pea Soup (lentils and green peas) and Chicken Soup for Flu (for those times when I feel I really need chicken soup when sick people have come into the office and I want to thwart off the germs). After using the broth for soup, we have the chicken to use in all kinds of recipes.
I think our grocery bill stays down because eating healthier foods stays with one better. There is not seemingly the need to snack as much. And knowing that a few almonds and a fresh fruit will do the trick helps. It is a trick though to control the food budget and tips from others is always good. Because there are only two of us, our biggest challenge to overcome is to buy and cook too much. Our appetites have changed so we are learning to buy smaller quantities and cook less to avoid waste. It seems the grocers are into selling larger quantities of certain produce. Even in the health food store, one must read labels and look for the most economical buy.
Thank you all for being here.
Eating healthy may cost a little more but I have seen in my life time that you pay now or pay later. We have started a little farm and that helps make it cost effective! Care
Thank you for your inspiring post. You have reminded me why I cook for my family everyday. Even though I was somewhat cursing my slow rising sourdough bread last night as I pulled it out of the oven at 10pm…..but I slathered a piping hot piece with butter and smiled. I feel so fortunate to have found all of the awesome real food blogs over the past 6 months, it has been life changing for my whole family.
These are the reasons I cook as well. And it was a great reminder, because I have been toiling in the kitchen for several days now preparing for our family to attend a homeschooling convention and I had to have portable, healthy, nourishing foods prepared for my toddler to eat. The convention foods will all be fast food joints so while there will be some compromises, we will have soaked homemade muffins, kefir, hard boiled eggs from our own chickens, raw cheeses, fresh homemade roast turned into lunch meat that I did on my own, fresh homemade chicken salad, soaked homemade sandwich bread, and my toddler will also have homemade meatballs, homemade mini-muffins, homemade soaked crackers, and let’s not forget the raw milk. It has been an exhausting few days. My 11yo daughter has been helping me. But we know it is worth it. While we will probably have some of the fast food once or twice, I keep telling myself that my kids will get really sick really fast if they eat that several times each day we are gone since they are not used to it. So anyway – it is truly a labor of love. 🙂 Thanks for a wonderful post!
Ditto! Ever since my first successful from-scratch meal I’ve been in love with feeding my family well. There really is nothing like the satisfaction of your family enjoying a healthy meal that you lovingly made. 🙂 Looking forward to a steaming pot of creamy potato soup for dinner on this cold, rainy day.
Great post and I feel exactly the same way! I can not wait to be able to cook for my boyfriend and I and our future family the way that you do! Thank you for the inspiration and I can’t wait to keep reading your posts!!!
And then there are the rest of us who really do not love to cook but love our families. Yes, I cook from scratch because I love my family and I want the most nourishing food available for them. I love my family but, alas, I do not love to cook! I’ve often wished and prayed I had that desire and love of cooking. Just ain’t a happenin’ but my family is well fed and well nourished in spite of myself.
Emily @ Recipes to Nourish
Such a beautiful post, thanks for sharing. I cook Real food for many of the same reasons you do. I have loved cooking ever since I was a child, and I have fond memories of cooking with my grandmother (she put so much love into food). I love being able to cook for my daughter. It’s been so amazing to see how her health has improved through nourishing foods. I like to know where my food comes from, and the only way to really do that is to cook at home. I am very grateful to the local farmers that I have come to know and love over the years, it makes the food I consume so much more special, to actually know where my food is raised or grown, there is nothing better than that. Thanks again Kimi, I really LOVE this post.
You are so encouraging! It does get to be a chore sometimes, in the midst of some of the other chores and happenings of family life. But you remind us why we do what we do in cooking for our families. Years ago an older lady happened to ask me “do you cook?” and I was at first very puzzled. Why of course! I have a husband and three kids; how can I not cook? Then later I realized that some moms do as little cooking as possible. Later during an extensive and badly needed kitchen remodel I couldn’t cook much and it was easy to run get something or serve convenience foods. I did get back into the habit of cooking but it was harder than I thought after the reprise (as bad as I wanted to let go of the insanity and cost of the way we had been doing lately). Then our oldest daughter began having health issues which were finally resolved by a gluten free diet. Boom! Learn a new way to eat, cook, the whole 9 yards. Even later (now with 6 kiddos) she developed LYME disease and severe gastrointestinal problems, so we were on a huge learning curve once again. Today, our family of 9 eats much healthier than ever, and my 4 daughters all like to cook!! (The boys may take a little more effort, but they do like eating.) A healthy diet has always been important to me for the family, but looking back I can see that it has come a long way. And I am still learning. Thanks for your input and this blog!!
Beautiful thoughts, thank you so much for sharing them! Thanks also to those who’ve left comments as well. It is encouraging to know there are others out there who are determined to do their best for their families. It is also encouraging that many are passing these important life skills on to their children! That is one of the reasons I cook. I want to be the right example for my children. I want them to know it can be normal for a family to eat made-from-scratch foods each meal of every day just like people have done in centuries past in the days before health epidemics of every kind came along. I want them to know how to do it themselves so they can do the same for their own families. The odds of both my children marrying someone else who also knows how to cook well are pretty slim, so I want to be sure at least one person can cook with experience in each of their families.
Annie @ Naturally Sweet Recipes
What an incredible post. I love all the reasons you shared and why you choose to do it! Cooking healthy meals for our families is one of the biggest benefits and lessons we can give them. Thanks for sharing! This once again reminds me of the amazing blessings cooking healthy foods for my family can have!
What a lovely testament to the power of food. When I was growing up, family dinners were always at the table, sit-down, and a time for connection and conversation. Food is a wonderful way to express love, especially as an act of service. Makes me want to cook!
Thanks for sharing.
Just want to add my thanks for your writing this. I feel exactly the same. I started working from my home a few years ago, thinking everything would stay the same. Well, even though I was in the house, we slid the slippery slope into convenience, hurried food, and even not all eating together. We have all suffered, I the most, because I haven’t been able to love my family the way I used to. I am working to cut back my hours. I am working harder to prepare loving, nourishing food for the family. Thank you for helping me fine-tune my determination on why I want to change our eating habits!!
I love to cook too!!
thank you so much for telling us your story. I have been cooking since I was almost born. My mother, was a nurse and she was always working. So, as a young girl, I learned how to cooked for myself and my sisters. So, over the years I became a cooker for the rest of the family and we always get together and have fun times. For example, when my children and I are hungry,while we are watching a movie, I just get up, open the refrigerator, and find whatever is inside and start cooking. Now, as an adult and mother of two children, I taught them how to cook and eat healthy and I hope they will teach their own children too. love