Getting your hands dirty in the kitchen gives us a chance to experience something physical, breaks up our routine and helps us be more fully present at the task at hand. However, the rewards of cooking go beyond the physical - in this month’s blog post we take a deeper look at why cooking meals ourselves nourishes our body and our soul.
Benefits of cooking at home
Cooking has been described as a form of ‘self-care.’ The simple task of taking ingredients and transforming them into something delicious helps us get in touch with our physical selves. It also helps us connect the outer world (what we feel with our senses) and our inner world (our bodies).
Prepared meals and takeaways can be high in fat, salt and sugar. When you prepare your own food, you know exactly what is going into it. At Green Dinner Table, we make our sauces fresh each week, they have less preservatives than store bought ones.
And, it’s not just about ingredients. A study published in Health Education Behaviour found that cooking benefits extended beyond nutrition. Cooking as therapy can positively influence psychosocial outcomes. Formal cooking therapy also had positive impacts on socialisation, self-esteem and quality of life.
Psychologists reported that the simple act of cooking can bring meaning to what you are doing because you get a tangible result for your efforts (i.e., a tasty dinner). This reward for doing a task demonstrates that your actions were worthwhile and have resulted in something real.
According to Counselor Nicole Lambert of Movement Counseling Services, “Cooking helps mental health in that it can be a creative outlet. It’s a way to channel energy, and can be used as a distraction, help build mastery in a skill, and a way to express emotions through a different medium.”
Caring for others
Yes, creating something delicious for ourselves can be motivating, but it is even more motivating when you are cooking for others. That’s why food has such strong cultural and social ties. It is how we celebrate, how we show concern in times of crisis – food is one of the main ways we show we care.
And, when you see how much someone else enjoys, appreciates and values something you created, it can help rebuild your sense of worth and value.
Easy does it
Easier recipes have been shown to be better for improving mental health because the process doesn’t create anxiety, but instead fosters focus, and encourages creativity and happiness. Green Dinner Table recipes are designed with this in mind. We want to make it easy for you to create delicious meals. And, having everything on hand means that you don’t have to sweat the prep.
In an earlier blog post, we talked about the benefits of eating as a family. Those benefits can extend into prep time too. You can ask your children to read the recipe aloud, mix the ingredients, or help tidy up. Making meal time a family event helps make it less of a chore.
Finding your zen
Cooking can bring calm, like meditation practice or mindfulness, because it helps you get into ‘the zone’. This is a feeling in which you lose track of time and focus in on the task at hand. If you battle negative thoughts or are nagged by constant worries, cooking can be a healthy way to bring peace of mind. All those relaxing feelings can help your physical body too, by easing the tension we feel when we are anxious or depressed.
Eating homemade meals is usually much cheaper than eating out or buying pre-made meals. Money can also exacerbate mental health conditions and put pressure on our relationships. Planning meals or subscribing to a service like Green Dinner Table can help you save money as we covered in an earlier blog post.
That’s what originally attracted Tom to the chef life. It looked so darn fun. That surge of adrenaline after service, the comradery between cooks… You can get a bit of that in your own home when you cook – especially if you can recruit a sous chef or dishwasher to help tidy up!
Trying new foods you’ve never heard of before can add adventure and variety to your day-to-day. This is one of the reasons Green Dinner Table’s menus are full of interesting dishes and new ingredients. Just check out our upcoming dishes. We want you to love plant-based meals as much as we do!
So instead of collapsing on the couch after work, why not roll up your sleeves and jump into the kitchen? Green Dinner Table makes it easy by doing the planning and delivering everything you need to cook meals everyone will enjoy. Our weekly plans are designed to make dinner time something to look forward to.