5 bad excuses for not cooking
February 25th, 2014
07:00 PM ET
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This is the eighteenth installment of "Eat This List" - a regularly recurring list of things chefs, farmers, writers and other food experts think you ought to know about.

You should cook. Yes, you. Even if you don't want to.

This isn't like saying that you should learn Ovid in the original Latin for the enrichment of your soul, or requiring that you hunker and hone your julienne and demi-glace skills until you emerge victorious in a battle overseen by Alton Brown or Anthony Bourdain. This is about getting yourself fed and taking a modicum of responsibility for it.

You eat, right? Maybe even more than once a day? (Or even if you ingest some combination of nutrients solely through methods that don't require chewing, smoothies have to taste like something, don't they?) And I'm going to go ahead and assume that you'd like to continue living in your body for the next while. Assembling foodstuffs for intake without the intermediary of a drive-thru speaker, menu, or segmented tray and microwave is the ideal way to facilitate that.

Yet people object, throw their hands in the air and simply refuse. Here's why they're wrong.

1. "I can't cook."
You're reading this. You can cook. It may not be as soul-rumbling as your Nana's Sunday supper or make Mario Batali quake in fear for his job, but if you can follow a recipe (one that's tested - not from a random Pinterest page), you can get dinner on the table.

Recipe developers - at least the ones I know - are a proud, tenacious and skilled bunch and the last thing in the world any one of them wants to hear is that their recipe didn't work. So they test it again and again and again until it's virtually un-screw-uppable. Then, luckily for us, these recipes show up in cookbooks, or on extremely trustworthy websites like Epicurious, Food & Wine, Cooking Light, MyRecipes and plenty of others.

Worried your knife skills won't cut the mustard or your egg technique isn't all it's cracked up to be? How-to videos on Saveur, Cooking Channel and Better Homes and Gardens are the next best thing to having a chef standing next to you in the kitchen (minus the Gordon Ramsay-style screaming).

Start simply. Go slowly. Be OK with the occasional screw-up. You've got this.

2. "I don't want to."
I don't want to floss, wash my dog or pay taxes, but I do because I'm an adult and as such I do things for the good of my health and the pleasure and wellbeing of others. It is, as food writer Kim O'Donnel told me, "a way of taking part in the world."

There aren't a whole lot of things that everyone on the planet does, but eating is one of them. Most of the time it's for sustenance. Often it's for pleasure or community. Why not contribute to that?

Cooking is inherently a generous act. It's a gift of work and time, and often an expression of tradition and culture. Making a meal of your favorite dishes for someone is a way of saying, "Here's who I am, and I cared enough to share this with you."

If a microwave burrito and a greasy sack of cheesy tots sum you up, that's groovy. Otherwise just suck it up and learn to make a darned lasagna. (Everyone likes lasagna.)

3. "I don't have time."
None of us do. There is the business of life to attend to: working, looking for work, studying, sleeping, frolicking, caring for the young and the old and the four-legged and the just plain loved. These things will all go better for you if you take two or three hours out of the 168 hours you receive from the universe each week to cut up some vegetables, throw some salt and pepper on a hunk of meat and stick these items in the oven with a pot of rice on the stovetop. Consider a hearty pot of soup or stew. Attempt the casserole of your choosing.

Make these things in large enough quantities, store them smartly and they will actually save you time later in the week when you stumble in from your busy day, stomach a-rumble, and can't wait for the pizza dude (or however it is you're feeding yourself - actually, how are you feeding yourself?) to show up. Just scoop, heat (or not) and like magic, there's a home-cooked meal on your plate.

No one is saying you have to do this every night (goodness knows I don't), but it's amazing how quickly cooking can become a habit, once you have a few staples in your cupboards.

4. "It's expensive."
Of all these excuses I hear in my capacity as a food editor, this is the one with which I sympathize the most.

When I moved to New York in 1996, I was hungry for my life to start - and just plain hungry to boot. I lived in steady, clawing dread of being evicted from my apartment, having my utilities turned off and losing the poorly-paying jobs I managed to stitch together. Despite the constant ache of my never-full-enough stomach, spending what little cash I had on ingredients at the grocery store seemed so incredibly remote and extravagant, when $1.29 would get me a fast food burger that would make the hunger go away instantly.

It caught up with me. I was exhausted, depressed and felt awful all of the time from the lack of basic vitamins and nutrients. A bout of sickness that should have been gone in a week dragged on for months because I just didn't have the strength to fight it off. That all changed when I discovered New York's Chinatown markets.

The neighborhood I lived in had no real grocery stores - just a few bodegas that sold snacks, phone cards, dusty canned goods and raspy toilet paper - but if I was willing and physically able (which wasn't always) to haul some heavy bags home on the train, my meager dollars and couch change went an awful lot further than a single burger. For me, cooking and health became inextricably linked. Having some measure of control over what went into my body gave me the power to overhaul the rest of my life, and I'll never take that for granted again.

If the issue is access to decent, affordable food to cook, you're right. It is too expensive and sometimes too hard to get to in many places, and it's up to those of us who are fortunate to have enough to figure out how to do better by you.

A few resources to help:
Advice from a mother of two who relies on a food bank
How our readers make the most of their limited food dollars

5. "I have better things to do."
Well OK then. Be that way. Miss out on the grateful smiles and coos of friends and family when you present them with a home-cooked feast (or at least a tasty side). Live at the mercy of restaurant hours and be unable to satisfy the craving for a dish that's not on the 2 a.m. drive-thru menu. Show up at the potluck with a box of store-bought cookies and some deli potato salad. Know not the thrill of wooing someone with some lovin' from your oven.

In the immortal words of hip hop star Jean Grae:

"You could even make some Burrata. Dear lord, you should make some Burrata. It’s an Italian cheese made from mozzarella and cream. Yes. Exactly.

Anyways, it’s not that hard to learn how to make. I’ve done it. It’s delicious and amazing and now you will know how to make cheese and THAT, is sexy. Make some Burrata and level up in life. People get excited when you tell them you make cheese. THEN THEY WILL MARRY YOU. OH!"

OH!, indeed. Get cooking.

Previously:
How to cook vegetables
6 kitchen skills I have yet to master
60-minute chicken broth will change your cooking life
Attack of the 4'2" chef

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Filed under: Cook • Cooking • Eat This List • Make


soundoff (80 Responses)
  1. amanandhishoe

    I can't imagine eating take-out, restaurant, or the processed food sold in supermarkets. It doesn't taste as good as food cooked from scratch, or vegetables fresh out of the garden. Cooking is so simple. You can make great meals in ten to twenty minutes from scratch. And you get to eat wonderful food without all the preservatives, chemicals, and added sugars that are in most commercially produced food.

    June 16, 2014 at 4:08 pm |
  2. Kitty

    I cook, in fact I am a very talented cook; it isn't that hard anyone can toss asparagus in a bowl with water and pepper and microwave it for 3 minutes to get boiled veg.
    Anybody can toss together lemon juice, sugar and water to make lemonade, anybody can open a tuna can add spices and mix it up to make tuna salad; there are many very easy recipes you can make while on the go but people are just too lazy to do so.

    And when I bring my cooking to school..people love me!

    March 2, 2014 at 2:01 pm |
  3. noxy

    I cook ! But like someone else said, it's the menu planning that takes so much time. I don't even mind if dinner takes awhile to put together- I like trying out more complicated recipes..

    Thankfully, my boyfriend isn't a picky eater and he eats whatever I put in front of him.

    March 1, 2014 at 8:32 am |
    • Mel Stricker

      I have a suggestion. Do a Google search and just enter 'menus' You will get many sites with possible menus to you to put together. One site I use all the time for recipes (menus ale) is Allrecipes{DOT}com

      I cook all the time. I even make bread (no machine) and every thing I make is completely from scratch (I have even made my own mayo, which is quite easy).

      March 2, 2014 at 4:00 am |
    • KC

      Next time someone puts you on hold, write down a couple of basic menus. Those become your go-to menus, no further planning required. I'm adventurous when I have the time, but on busy days it's great to have something I can just throw together. I buy ground meat in bulk, fry it all up at once, freeze it in small packets, and when I need a quick dinner, thaw that in the microwave while cooking noodles. Stir in ricotta, chunks of mozzarella, a can of tomatoes, spaghetti sauce, a handful of Italian seasoning, and you have "lasagne". Add a pre-packaged salad on the side, and voila, a healthy dinner that took no thought at all.

      March 2, 2014 at 8:07 am |
  4. msp

    Cooking is a hobby these days, not a skill you can't live without. Someone said most people drive but few know or care how about how the car works. If you enjoy cooking/working on cars, great. Knock yourself out. Cook for your friends/family. Fix their cars too while you are at it. You would be appreciated not for your cooking/mechanical skills necessarily but for involving them in your lives.

    For people like me, cooking is not something remotely enjoyable. I need food to live but there is plenty of food around. They all taste pretty much the same to me. I can't tell if they are good or bad. They are edible. Cooking the simplist meal and clean up takes about an hour, with 15 minutes max eating time. Just feels like a drag. Wasting 45 minutes a meal does not appeal to me. My family and friends have no trouble knowing that I care for them without home made food.

    February 28, 2014 at 6:52 pm |
  5. hawkechik

    You know what? I can cook. I can cook pretty well, actually. But I don't nearly as often as I should because for me, personally, it's not the cooking per se that's a problem, it's the figuring out *what* to cook. Cooking isn't so much work, figuring out menus is a *huge* amount of work. Figuring out menus and then trying to put together a shopping list on that that won't break the bank is a *huge* amount of work. Finding recipes that are healthy, cater to our individual tastes, don't take all day, and don't use some exotic ingredient is a *huge* amount of work. Finding something my husband will eat that isn't full of fat, calories, sugar, and minus anything remotely exotic (like mustard or mayonnaise) is a *huge* amount of work. Most of the time I let him take care of it, although store-bought pizza is not exactly my cup of tea .

    February 27, 2014 at 7:59 am |
    • Tammy in MN

      WELL SAID!!! Thank you!

      February 27, 2014 at 4:47 pm |
  6. Potrzebie

    My mother was an incredible cook. She did wonders with very little money cooking for a family of six. When she passed away, the first thing I went for was her recipé file. Those tattered file cards, many stained almost beyond recognition from countless dinners past, are now a tangible window into our family history. When my siblings come for dinner and say, "This tastes just like mom's," it brings us closer together than anything else could possibly do.

    February 27, 2014 at 5:29 am |
  7. lilmama

    Couple of things I have learned in my 20 odd years of cooking is recipes are not everything. Sometimes you just have to look in your cabinets and fridge and say hmm... I bet this would taste good, and do it. My mom always made her ham with pineapples and brown sugar. Well, one day i went to make my ham and oops, no pineapples. So i went through my cabinets and found a can of apple pie filling. I used that with butter and brown sugar and oh my wow was it good. The leftovers were even better, and the beans i made from the bone were incredible. Cooking is about being creative, and using your taste buds to decide what is good and what isn't. The second thing I learned, came straight from my Mom and Grandma. The only time i measure anything is when I am baking. I add some of this and some of that and a bit of this. If you like garlic add more, not so fond of onions pinch it. No recipe is set in stone. You have to eat it, it should reflect your tastes. Finally, patience. If you cook consistently, it won't be long before you are an awesome cook! Cheers and Happy Eating! :D

    February 27, 2014 at 12:46 am |
  8. JHanson

    cooking is what wives are for. if she won't cook, you made a mistake when you picked her up!

    February 26, 2014 at 9:28 pm |
    • Kat Kinsman

      Fun facts: Some gentlemen have husbands. Some gentlemen are forever alone. Men are physically and legally permitted to cook in most states, at least since the 1990s.

      February 26, 2014 at 11:48 pm |
    • No Satisfaction

      If you think that's all that wives are for, you're missing out on soooooo much more.

      February 27, 2014 at 7:11 am |
    • Thinking things through

      Both my brother and my father are and were known as the chefs of their families. My mother did cook, but she preferred making the salads and baking the desserts.

      It's not just a woman thing. It certainly can be a family bonding thing.

      February 27, 2014 at 7:37 am |
  9. relmfoxdale

    On a somewhat similar note, I'm forever hearing from people that eating healthy is too expensive. I think part of the problem is that there are kind of two definitions of the word healthy. Humans need a certain number of calories and certain nutrients to fuel their bodies and function normally. Healthy eating, then, means getting the right number of calories and the right amounts of vitamins and minerals–this can be achieved, apparently, with nothing but potatoes, milk or cheese, and oatmeal (although few would want to eat that all day, every day!).

    The other definition of "healthy" food is something that is a low-fat, vegan, organic, locally sourced, so-called superfood. I think some people feel that they need to eat lean meat, quinoa, and kale to eat healthy. They don't. They need to get the nutrients they require in an appropriate number of calories while minimizing their intake of empty carbohydrates (like sugar and white bread). That's about it. It can be achieved quite cheaply indeed if one cooks it oneself. Alas, it won't always be terribly exciting food. :-)

    February 26, 2014 at 8:29 pm |
    • Thinking things through

      Getting healthy "with nothing but potatoes, milk or cheese, and oatmeal" ? Need some (non-starchy) veggies in there! I'd be pretty sick on that diet! And ultimately, for the price of some kale (which doesn't cost all that much), I'd be saving on the doctor-visit end of the equation.

      February 27, 2014 at 7:44 am |
  10. jake

    Most home cooking is very simple. Sure I can make chicken & vegetables but most American eating out every night want a variety of food that are not simple to make at home. Indian, Chinese, Mexican, bbq, chopped salads with 12 ingredients- these are things best left to restaurants, unless you have a separate pantry to warehouse all the ingredients and a culinary degree. Cooking at home means giving up the Indian curries and Kung Pao Chicken take out that have been standard faire for those who don't cook.

    February 26, 2014 at 7:40 pm |
    • relmfoxdale

      I have made loads and loads of Indian curries at home. All it takes is some main ingredient (like meat), vegetables (tomatoes and onions are common), garlic, a few jars of ground (or whole) spices, and some basic basmati (or other long-grain rice) to gulp it down with. I've got a huge tub of a more or less invented chicken curry that I made to use up a bunch of leftover cooked chicken.

      February 26, 2014 at 8:20 pm |
    • Dalila

      I cook mostly Chinese, Indian, Thai, and North African dishes, they are cheap to prepare. Chinese, Indian, and Thai stores have exotic but cheap vegetables, and sauces. You can get shallot for a dollar a pound, eggplant less than 2 dollars, sauces are no more than 3.00 dollars but last a long time. They fill the dish with vegetables and use little meat. I use at most 1lb of meat for a dish for 6. And then just add vegetables or beans to create volume. You can make a wonder with just fish, at most 1 red and 1 green pepper. I never cook chicken breast as a whole piece, which can feed one or at most 2 people; instead, I cut that one chicken breast and make a whole meal that feed a whole family of at least 4.
      If you are willing to put vegetables and beans the stars, instead of meat, you can cook cheaply but still have great dishes.

      February 27, 2014 at 8:11 am |
    • Ally

      Jake, I'd love to send you some of my easy recipes! Mexican is super simple. Usually just a meat, chopped veggies and spice. Saute onions, peppers, garlic. Add sliced chicken. Season with a mexican spice blend. Plop on a tortilla and eat.

      Asian stir fries are also easy. Chop up any veggies you want to use. Buy a sauce (like teriyaki) if you don't want to mix one up yourself. Serve over rice.

      February 27, 2014 at 3:12 pm |
  11. lisa

    I have never liked to cook, even as a kid. It's boring to me. Microwave and crock pot work fine for me. Hasn't killed me yet.

    February 26, 2014 at 6:22 pm |
    • Thinking things through

      Crock pot can be serious cooking! Don't sell yourself short. At least, you are not buying Hot Pockets...

      February 26, 2014 at 6:44 pm |
  12. Ivonne

    My father came home from work one day and Mom met him at the door. "We have to go out for dinner tonight," she said.
    "Why? What happened," Dad asked.
    "The electric has been out all day so I couldn't cook."
    "But we have a gas stove!"
    "Yes," she admitted, "but the can opener is electric."

    True story – and no, I could not cook when I married. Now I can and I enjoy it immensely. But it is even better when my husband cooks!

    February 26, 2014 at 4:40 pm |
    • Thinking things through

      I remember the people who couldn't get into their homes during long power outages because they always entered through the garage, triggered by their garage door opener. Electric.

      My niece had on her list for her suggested wedding gifts – an electric can opener. Ugh. No, I got her something else. If I can't open a can manually, it is going to have to be for a physical disability (which DO exist), but she and I are both still able-bodied.

      February 26, 2014 at 6:42 pm |
      • Thinking things through

        Yes, I have nothing against convenience, but that idea (electric can opener) saves practically NOTHING. Maybe 20 seconds? MAYBE?

        If anyone EVER gives me one, I'll pulverize this hallmark of uselessness into landfill.

        February 26, 2014 at 6:54 pm |
  13. bryanska

    For some people like me, food is fuel. I have favorite fuel, but 80% of the time I'm just looking for a good balance of calories, fat, protein, fiber and nutrients to get me through the day. I'm no "foodie"... and that makes me very unpopular these days... You wouldn't believe the vitriol I get when I mention MY favorite foods, after everyone else shares theirs.

    This just sounds a little co-dependent to me: "Miss out on the grateful smiles and coos of friends and family when you present them with a home-cooked feast (or at least a tasty side)"

    Know why I dread family dinners? Because at least one person is always looking for a reaction to their food... And it can't be an honest reaction. It can't be anything less than a 7 of 10. And if I don't eat it (or gasp! take too little), someone ALWAYS notices and calls me out. Whether their inquiries are a gentle "don't you like it?" or a more aggressive "WHY don't you like it?", there isn't any way to avoid looking like a spoilsport. And these "ethnic" families (my childhood home included) seem to delight in forcing it on you. I don't want to avoid my favorite Shamrock Shake all week just to spend 3,000 calories on a highly polarizing foodie dish with a purposefully odd flavor profile.

    I'll arrive at any sit down event AFTER the dinner, with an extra bottle of wine to cover my "sin".

    Also: nobody's food is "the best". Your BBQ ain't the "right way". There's a hundred ways to define "real" steaks. Your butcher isn't special. Stop making food such a competition.

    February 26, 2014 at 4:31 pm |
    • Samantha

      Although I love food probably more because of the variety of tastes and things I can eat, I agree with you. Although I do understand the people wanting feedback on their food. It IS something that you put a lot of work into, and if the person you made it for doesn't like it, it's frustrating or hurtful to hear it. Especially if that someone asked you to cook for them in the first place (or complains that you don't cook), and then when you do complains about the food. That's no fun, either.

      February 28, 2014 at 4:16 pm |
  14. Arturo Féliz-Camilo

    Reblogged this on Mr. Feliz's Blog (Teacher Arturo).

    February 26, 2014 at 4:07 pm |
  15. crittermom2

    Want a decent meal for one with no messy cleanup?

    Get a piece of fresh fish. Put it on a large piece of parchment paper (or foil). Cut up a few vegetables on top ... tomato, a slice of onion or shallot, zucchini, whatever you like. Season with a little salt and pepper, add a dab of butter and sprinkle with a little dill or something. Fold it up, bake for about 15 minutes at 450 degrees. Meanwhile, microwave a baking potato. Done. Complete meal, and all you have to wash is your plate.

    February 26, 2014 at 2:33 pm |
    • Thinking things through

      Nice!!

      February 26, 2014 at 6:58 pm |
    • Ally

      Sounds good! Add a spritz of lemon juice at the end. :)

      February 27, 2014 at 3:24 pm |
  16. Mark

    Great article. When my wife and I got married we knew NOTHING about cooking. Our mother's (not trying to be sexist, those where just the ones who cooked in our households) imparted little cooking knowledge in our upbringings and it showed when we started out. Now, after 10 years of constant attempts to become better we are both pretty awesome by almost any standard. Usually we would rather make our own food than go out. I can roast a chicken with fresh herbs, mashed potatoes and gravy, vegetables and rolls (all from scratch) in very little time with very little mess. I love that we eat well. It gives us versatility AND the ability to control what is actually in our food so that we can stay thin. I guess the take-away is practice makes perfect and persistence can be rewarding. I understand it isn't for everyone, but you HAVE to eat everyday and for something that is going to be a large portion of your life, it may be worth attempting.

    February 26, 2014 at 2:07 pm |
  17. Leigh

    It is definitely cheaper and healthier to cook for a family. it is definitely not easier, but the well being of my kids is more important than everything being easy.

    February 26, 2014 at 1:14 pm |
  18. Johnny

    Reason The Best: I hate cooking, plain and simple. It's a time sink, the outcomes are usually nowhere near worth the effort and time invested, and I hate cleaning up afterwards.

    I'm not a gourmet or gourmand, couldn't care less about fancy foods, would never ever consider spending an entire day or afternoon or more than 15 minutes making a "feast" to impress anybody, anywhere, ever, at all. When other people cook a "feast" am I impressed? No, as a matter of fact, I'm not. I look at big spreads and think to myself, "who would want to eat all this?"

    I'll cook only the simplest of foods requiring the absolute minimal prep-time, with just enough day-to-day variety to ensure reasonably sufficient nutrition. Rice. Pasta. Salad (bagged). Pre-packaged frozen veggies & meats that I can toss into the oven or microwave. Cooking is basically an unpleasant, mind-numbingly boring chore in my life. :-p

    February 26, 2014 at 1:08 pm |
    • Bobbi Fleigh

      Well, aren't you just a little bucket of sunshine today?

      February 26, 2014 at 1:30 pm |
      • No Satisfaction

        Johnny brings up a good counterpoint. However, the article is about 5 BAD EXCUSES. He has brought out ONE GOOD REASON not to cook. Just because he hates cooking doesn't mean he's starving or that you love a stupid hobby. Maybe he loves cars and you couldn't care less about them. Does that make you a "bucket of sunshine" too?

        February 27, 2014 at 7:08 am |
    • Kat Kinsman

      "making a 'feast' to impress anybody"

      It isn't necessarily about impressing - it's about sharing. For many people who do this, it's a way of saying "I care about you and want to nourish you." I hope that even if you don't care about the food, you appreciate what it means to them and thank them.

      February 26, 2014 at 1:58 pm |
    • RC

      And yet you read and reply to a food blog. Surely you have better things to do with your time........

      February 26, 2014 at 3:36 pm |
      • bryanska

        it's not a food blog. it's a direct link on CNN.com, one of the top news sites. So the food blog is inviting comment by the general public.

        On any position, there should be a well stated counterpoint. I believe his is the best counterpoint so far. Some of us actively resist food culture, because for us we just don't care. And we're sick of being disrespected and called out as unwashed heathen.

        February 26, 2014 at 4:15 pm |
        • Witty Banter@RC

          No, I really don't think he does...

          February 27, 2014 at 1:11 pm |
    • bryanska

      Love it!! Best response so far. There are some people for whom food is fuel. I see it as a collection of molecules that sustains me. Assigning so much emotion to it is EXHAUSTING. Put me in the "I have better things to do" camp. I'd live to sit and eat with you, but fer pete's sakes just lemme eat.

      February 26, 2014 at 4:13 pm |
      • Witty Banter

        You must be an utter blast at parties...

        February 26, 2014 at 4:50 pm |
        • bryanska

          Parties used to be about having fun. "Come as you are", not "come as you want to be perceived".

          Within 30 seconds of walking in the door I can tell if any party is going to be TRULY fun. First: is every male in sight close-shaved, scrubbed, miserable, and carrying intricately prepared homemade food? Second: is there music, does it have a beat, and is it coming from a tiny iPod dock or from some real speakers? Finally: is the food high-maintenance?

          I'm fine with high-quality food, but it's EXtrinsic to me: it leads to a higher benefit of "good time" or "long life" or "awesome party atmosphere". When we say "we've got better things to do" we literally mean it. Just leave us alone with a pizza (it can be thin crust veggie, OK?) and a six pack (fine, make it imported). Hits the spot for us.

          Many people view food as INtrinsic: the endgame IS the food. They hunt for the ingredients, sweat the details in the kitchen, and deliver the finished product with a flourish. Many people "ooh and aah", while some of us are on guard for the stress, anxiety, pressure and general co-dependence that sometimes accompany foodies.

          We can all exist together.

          February 27, 2014 at 11:11 am |
        • Sir Biddle@bryanska

          See you at Sturgis for the hot dog races!

          February 27, 2014 at 1:32 pm |
    • lisa

      I thought I was the only one that hated cooking.

      February 26, 2014 at 6:27 pm |
    • Thinking things through

      This is what makes horse races. You wouldn't be happy in my home, nor me in yours. I appreciate we aren't all "cookie cutter" people.

      February 26, 2014 at 6:51 pm |
    • sally

      I agree with Johnny. It's no fun to do something that you are no good at, and have no desire to learn. Personally, I love to cook. But I can totally understand why so many people hate it.

      February 27, 2014 at 2:31 pm |
  19. 11811

    Cooking should be treated like one of those skills that you need to know but may not be sure when you are going to use it. Kinda like driving a stick shift – or sewing.

    I hate cooking. My Mom hates cooking – but she makes something yummy. Somethings you just don't like and if you choose to "get around it" that is your own choice.

    I particularly hated cooking in my single days. There was just me, work and school. I live in a rural area. There is no corner grocery store, it is a good 20 miles away. If you forget an ingredient or need something fresh it is a treck to go get it. I think it is more expensive for a single person to cook. (PBJ doesn't count). Even if you try adjusting the ration by halving a recipe you are often left with a lot leftover. I made poor food choices and they were mine to make. Kinda like how people choose to smoke or over drink.

    February 26, 2014 at 1:06 pm |
    • Jdizzle McHammerpants ♫♫

      I prefer stick shift. it make me feelz lyke race car man

      February 26, 2014 at 2:06 pm |
  20. CACDB83`

    All of these "reasons" for not cooking are the same ones my step-daughter uses on a daily basis. After giving her cookbooks that have recipes with 5 or less ingredients, a slow cooker and numerous tips on how to pull together a meal at the end of a work day, I have come to accept the fact that she has absolutely no interest in even trying to learn to cook basic meals. For me, cooking is a comfort task after sitting in a cubicle in front of a stupid computer screen all day. Most of the time I find comfort doing the dishes in front of the kitchen window looking at the neighbor's animals and watching the passing of the day and the flow of the seasons. There's something satisfying in cooking a meal similar to my mother and grandmother's way of cooking. So to everyone out there that can't or won't cook, spend time with the cooks in your family whoever they may be. Learn to enjoy one of the basic human tasks.

    February 26, 2014 at 11:59 am |
    • No Satisfaction

      You make it sound like a beloved hobby. Good for you. In addition to hating grocery shopping, my mother, one sister and my best friend all hate cooking. I don't hate it, I just got beat down and ran out of gas. As far as your daughter, maybe it's a case of not having any kind of supportive reception and nothing to do with the act of cooking itself.

      She may not want to tell you because she knows how much you love it.

      February 26, 2014 at 12:50 pm |
    • Johnny

      Okay, so you enjoy cooking. Good on yer, mate.

      But nothing in the world could possibly make the experience pleasant for me. It's a chore. It's boring. It's mind-numbingly dull and utterly uninteresting >>> to me <<<. There are so many things I'd rather be doing with my time. Anything really. To me, food is primarily fuel, and as I age I find that I can't consume nearly as much as I used to, and since I only cook for myself, there's just no point in cooking a meal that I can't reasonably eat - for example, I *can* cook a lasagna, but eating it in appropriate portions, it would go bad long before I could consume it all unless I ate the damn thing for every meal for a week straight. I can't live like that.

      February 26, 2014 at 1:19 pm |
      • Ally

        Eat half and freeze half. Lasagna freezes quite well. :)

        February 26, 2014 at 1:28 pm |
  21. alr

    Thanks for the read! I'm a much better baker than I am a cook but I'm trying. I hate wasting ingredients when a dish has gone rogue but I won't get better if I don't try.

    February 26, 2014 at 11:35 am |
    • Kat Kinsman

      And I hope anyone who you practice on knows how lucky they are! Not all eaters are good at that, but I think it's wonderful that you're trying. You will get there.

      February 26, 2014 at 12:02 pm |
  22. marisab67

    Remember the 'chicken in every pot'. Who would have thought we would come to a time in America where once we got the chicken, we wouldn't know how to cook it??

    February 26, 2014 at 11:14 am |
  23. RC

    One of my favorite things is to pick a new dish/side/whatever and make it till I get it right. It can be something as simple as chicken wings (which I've perfected recently), or as complicated as Lasagna (which really isn't). My next conquest is going to be corned beef and cabbage. Yum!

    February 26, 2014 at 10:52 am |
    • Jdizzle McHammerpants ♫♫

      Better pick some Beano, too.

      February 26, 2014 at 11:51 am |
    • pegobrien61

      Lately I've been doing Brussels sprouts instead of cabbage with corned beef. It's really good.

      February 27, 2014 at 1:03 pm |
  24. Jdizzle McHammerpants ♫♫

    How about, "I hate doing dishes."?

    February 26, 2014 at 10:16 am |
    • lilmama

      Yeppers! Me too!! lol I love love LOVE to cook! I hate hate HATE doing dishes! :D

      The rest of this is off topic for those who are looking to stay on, but Jdizzle, i have been wondering where you have been! lol When I first started reading cnn (quite a few years ago) it was thanks to you and a few of your friends that I learned that the comments sections are way better than the articles! Whatever happened to Richard Head (whose name I love almost as much as yours)? There were a couple of others whose names I am forgetting because it has been a while, but you guys were awesome! Guess I just wanted to let you know you are missed, and say thanks for all the laughs you guys gave! :D

      February 27, 2014 at 12:31 am |
      • Jdizzle McHammerpants ♫♫

        They made the Coffee Klatsch our playground to keep things somewhat on topic. You can find us there in our home base.

        February 28, 2014 at 12:35 pm |
        • Shirley U. Jest

          Yes, the topics there are sofa-cisticated and, and, SQUIRREL!
          Join the fun.

          March 7, 2014 at 4:23 am |
  25. Eric

    This is a great article, but I disagree with one thing, and that is #4. It is by far less expensive to cook. Sure, you can get McChicken sandwiches off of the dollar menu at mcdonalds, but consider this, if you buy value packs of meats/veggies and cook once a week, eating only the amount of a small burger, you can get everything much cheaper. It shouldn't cost you more than $5 to bake a lasagna that will last a few days. I can understand if you're living in a place where getting groceries is out of the way and takes a long time, but most of us aren't in that situation, and so have no excuse for not cooking because it's too expensive.

    February 26, 2014 at 10:08 am |
    • Owl96

      Lasagna for $5? I have not made it in a while, but I am questioning the price. My late wife was Italian, and I helped her make it. You need Lasagna noodles, one pound of ground beef, canned tomatoes, tomato paste, seasoning, Ricotta cheese, a small amount of milk, and mozzarella and parmesan cheese. So unless you are making it meatless and with cottage cheese instead of Ricotta, I cannot see how you are getting by under $5.

      February 26, 2014 at 11:32 am |
      • Ally

        I think by $5 he is using a strong pre-planning strategy. If you buy cheap ground beef when it's on sale in bulk you can get a lot of meat. I usually skimp on meat in meals so I'd probably use 8/10ths of a pound instead of a full pound of ground beef. You can buy canned tomatoes in the large cans when on sale. The spices you would consider to have on hand already. Pasta goes on sale a lot and is dirt cheap....even cheaper if you make your own. The cheese would be the most expensive part. I'll bet that could get close to $5.

        There's a cooking show called $10 dinners that has full meals with entree, side and dessert or appetizer for four people. If you plan it's doable. Not easy, though. :)

        February 26, 2014 at 1:26 pm |
      • crittermom2

        You're probably right, $5 is a bit low. Still:

        $1 box of noodles
        $2 jar of sauce
        $2 ricotta
        $2 mozzarella
        $4 pound of Italian sausage
        plus an egg, some parmesan, a bit of herbs.

        Still, that's about 12 bucks for a large pan, which would come out to less than a dollar a serving. Very cheap.

        February 26, 2014 at 2:26 pm |
        • Tammy in MN

          And then you do you factor in the cost of fuel not only to cook that 2 hour lasagna, but also electricity to store the extra ingredients you bought in bulk? If you're Johnny and cooking for one, I don't see the economics working out.

          February 27, 2014 at 4:55 pm |
        • Thinking things through

          Tammy, as far as storage goes, if you can refrigerate or freeze extra ingredients (ie, if you have the appliance), you will be running the fridge/freezer anyway. And if it is FULL, in part due to these ingredients (especially the freezer) you will be using LESS electricity.

          February 27, 2014 at 6:31 pm |
        • crittermom2

          Not only that, but I didn't include any extra ingredients "in bulk" ... unless you would count the other 11 eggs in the carton? The rest on my list would all be used in a large pan of lasagna.

          As for fuel cost ... that would be used to cook a premade meal, too. (Stouffers Lasagna?) I think one can get a little ridiculous calculating every single penny ... are you going to count the cost of the mixing bowl I had to buy to mix the filling in? How about the spoon I stirred it with? The pan? Let's just assume that one is attempting to cook in a kitchen that is reasonably equipped, okay?

          February 28, 2014 at 3:13 pm |
        • Ally

          Tammy, I also have a good sized toaster oven that I tend to use more often than my main oven. It's a lot less expensive to run that when I'm only cooking for 2.

          February 28, 2014 at 3:33 pm |
  26. JellyBean

    Wonderful read, thank you.

    February 26, 2014 at 8:53 am |
  27. Thinking things through

    Lasagna, eh? I made it once. That item DOES take too long to cook (properly).

    Too expensive to cook? No, buying pre-made food and nuking it, or driving through the take out lane - that's expensive. You don't need to make "pheasant under glass" every night. (Actually, I've never made, or even have eaten, that one.)

    Roasting veggies and/or meat takes time - your oven's time. Chop up the veggies, add a touch of oil and seasonings, toss in a hot oven for x-amount of time (depending on the size of your slices, and the "hardness" of your veggies). Toss beef or pork into a lower heated oven with say, tomato sauce, for Y amount of time (depending on cut and size). Chicken in a medium oven - do the whole chicken and you can have a few meals there for later. Prep time minimal, and you can get on with your life while the oven does the real work. Later, you can decide to get fancier.

    February 26, 2014 at 7:42 am |
  28. No Satisfaction

    The article was obviously written by someone who loves to cook. Yes cooking is a generous act. So when adult family members you cook for tell you they won't eat what you cooked, you eventually taper off to a stopping point.

    February 26, 2014 at 6:38 am |
    • Thinking things through

      In which case, I think I'd start cooking for myself, and tell the other adults to cook their own dinners. Their loss. You tried, but you don't have to stop treating yourself.

      February 26, 2014 at 7:45 am |
      • Eric

        Agreed. My parents always said that I can choose not to eat what they cooked, but they're not making me anything else. Eat it, or starve, or go get a job and make my own dinner.

        February 26, 2014 at 10:10 am |
    • The Truth

      If they are adults you are under no obligation to feed them, problem solved. They don't like what you cook then stop cooking for them. They will appreciate your meals more once they try fending for themselves.

      Cooking is as easy and quick or hard and time consuming as you make it. There are plenty of good tasting simple dishes that take less then 15 minutes. Every meal does not need to be a gourmet rave worthy event. Leftovers are your friend. Plus everything does not need to be from scratch. There is no shame in premade mixes/sides to save time. Winter is especially great, make a large batch of soup/stew from scratch and enjoy it as a meal or as a side for a couple meals throughout the week. Soups/stews get better over time as the flavors have more of a chance to spread and mix among all the ingredients.

      There are still days I don't feel like cooking and eat out or microwave a prepared meal, but they are few and far between.

      February 26, 2014 at 10:14 am |
    • Kat Kinsman

      People really can be brats, can't they? It takes a gracious eater as well to make a meal really worthwhile.

      February 26, 2014 at 11:05 am |
      • leahk0615

        And I am so glad that I married a gracious eater who loves my cooking and baking (along with the rest of his family, my family and most of our friends) and who does the dishes afterwards...what could be better? :)

        February 26, 2014 at 4:38 pm |
        • No Satisfaction

          You are very fortunate to have what you love and love what you have. My first spouse was a fellow cook, but treated me like crap. This spouse treats me with love & respect, but doesn't like what I cook. I'll take that trade any day of the week.

          March 5, 2014 at 3:56 pm |

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