...Or Just Beat Them With a Homemade Casserole

Thursday, March 20, 2008

"I don't get you people. Why on earth would you cook something when you can save yourself the time and money and just buy this stuff? Who would want to bake when Save Mart has it already made?"

This is what someone recently asked me. This person is one of those typical people we see everyday. The kind who are grossly overweight, eats fast food EVERYDAY, and is just generally a massive heart attack waiting to happen.

Should you encounter one of these people, here are the arguments I suggest to you.

1) It's More Cost Effective: By buying ingredients, you have the ability to actually make many dishes. When you purchase a microwave pizza, you can only make one thing, the microwave pizza.

Another example, buying a package of "lowfat" Snackwells will get you 28 cookies for the price of $5.00. For all the ingredients you need for a batch of tollhouse cookies, you will probably spend around $8-$12. This includes flour, salt, sugar, eggs, butter, etc. Now while you spent more money, you have enough ingredients for multiple batches of cookies, with each batch giving you about 4 dozen, you already beat out the Snackwells.

Even then, if you don't make hundreds of cookies, you have ingredients for other recipes. Ingredients like butter and eggs are always in use and staples like flour and sugar usually last for long periods of time.

In in the long run saves you from having to eat out all the time. Saving you from eating another McMeal.

Thus, buying for scratch ingredients is a far more frugal approach.

2) It's Fun and Creative: Some of us actually enjoy cooking. It's fun for us. Sure it's not hunting for that last broken potato chip hiding under the couch cushion, but I guess that's a crucial difference between us.

I am allowed to be creative in what I make. Even if I have made it before, it's a bit different each time and I can, and usually do, switch it up somehow to make something new.

I suppose I can see the comfort in dependability with premade food, but still you would think that meat patties in brown sauce and chicken skin from K.F.C. would lose it's charm. Ah well, different strokes for different folks. Of course, these are the folks who also suffer strokes. =P

3) It's Healthier: All that crappy, no nutritional, crazy chemical crap you buy isn't healthy. It has no real health value. It's a wad of grease, fat, and sugar. Deep frying all your vegetables doesn't mean you are eating healthy. There is no argument here. Don't even try. Is it any wonder you struggle to breathe when you move?

4) You Can Make Time: Seriously, cook while you watch T.V.. What are you doing with all your time you can't possibly find at least 30 minutes in your day? Reality television isn't that engrossing as much as it is just gross.

In fact, if you are seeing it as a lack of time due to kids, family, work and so on, I can understand that. Some days, you just don't want to cook and that's okay. But try to involve your family and friends, get them into cooking. Rather than letting the kids watch T.V. show them how the kitchen works and try out new things. It will teach them to be self sufficient in the future and to eat healthier. (The Great Big Vegetable Challenge is a perfect example of this.)

If whoever you are arguing with still insist on complaining about making food from scratch, then at this point your tender grip on sanity is probably lost. Do yourself and the culinary dissenter in question a favor; put the bitch down. Best of luck to you.


  1. Another reason for you: you can make whatever you actually like. When you buy a pizza, it's always the all dressed boring one... When I make it, I make sure it has all the flavours I like: aspargus, chicken, swiss cheese, sun dried tomatoes, caramelised onions, black olives, and even pepperoni if I feel like it!
    You're only limited by your imagination...

  2. Bravo! I raise my whisk to you.

  3. You know, at the risk of sounding too impassioned and risking my genteel reputation, this kind of mentality infuriates me.

    Name a culture or generation that has not had to spend a majority of their day planning, shopping, and preparing for food? Hello!! Humans have to eat! It's only the "rich" who have the luxury of paying for someone else to prepare their food for them all the time. And those people are Hollywood, the English aristocracy of the nineteenth century, and lazy, overweight Americans filling up on cheap calories invented by capitalist who care nothing about health, only making a buck. I absolutely do not understand the arrogance of people who ask, "Why cook?"!

  4. Ohhhh how I love you!! You and I think exactly alike (except, your intelligence level far surpasses my under-grad brain). I loved the line about strokes, that was so clever! It literally made me laugh out loud.

    One reason I like cooking is that it makes me want to cook more! The more I do it, the more I want to do it. Getting into that rhythm isn't that hard, either. Thanks so much for posting this!

  5. This is a wonderful entry. I'm printing this and taping it up on my office wall.


  6. The reason I always throw out is that 'then I know what is in my food'. I have become even more strict now that I have children. Family trips to the farm market, baking together, it's all cultural.

  7. Oh geez - people are really that dense? I mean, if someone wants to eat only processed, pre-made food, and probably die younger than they would otherwise, then that's their decision. But if they tried to judge *me* for wanting to cook for myself, so I know exactly what I'm eating and I know that I'm making something I'll like? I'd probably just stare blankly because that makes sooooo little sense.

  8. There is NO substitution to cooking at Home! I agree with you 100%. No matter how busy My life is, I always find time to cook and bake healthy or not so sometimes. All in moderation. But that is my choice not Sara lee's or Stoffers. What a great stress reliever being in the kitchen is and to tap into my creativity. And by God I like to know what really is in the food I eat so it's comforting to know the hands that feed you. Bravo. I really do enjoy your blog! :)Thanks for the write.

  9. I'm so printing this out and taping it to my fridge.

    I'm totally with you on this. My old neighbors used to think that pizza from different places five times a week was gourmet. Not to mention their idea of cooking was making Hamburger Helper and Rice-Roni for a meal. *gag*
    Thank you so much for posting

  10. Absolutely. And how can you not understand the pure joy of that first taste of something that you have taken the time and care to prepare. Or the look on someone's face when [i]they[/i] take the first bite of something you have prepared. Or the fun of cooking together with your loved ones. These are things that I always carry with me and would never give them up for a pre-packaged meal.

  11. I love this post!! When someone asks me this question... I usually just look at them and smile "Because it makes me happy... and healthy." And then I just quietly (and smugly) judge them.


  12. Before we all begin (or continue) to assume that all fat people eat the same I would like to point out I am fat and I grow my own organic food in my own backyard and I do not go out to eat nor do I eat McDs every day.

    Maybe I not one of those "typical people"?

    Perhaps, to you, I would be if you just saw me walking down the street.

    You would assume, I guess, that I never cooked and ate at McDs every day. You would not know I hold a PhD, have done lots of non-fat related things, that I grow a whole lot of my own organic food, keep a free-range chicken flock, and that I cook that food in very delicious ways.

    You know there is a saying that is apropo here:

    "A waist is a terrible thing to mind"

    I think it does us all good to be kind to one another.

  13. Nika - You obviously have never met the person (or type of people) I am referring to, who literally has decimated an entire bucket of KFC in one sitting, along with a liter of Diet (natch) Coke).

    Also, at no point does this post state "All large people are fat and eat poorly." This would be your own interpretation.

    In that light, I am speaking about the unhealthy people (be they large or thin) that have poor eating habits, relying only on mass produced fatty foods.

    Props to you on your degree (though education was never any part of my argument) and way of eating and cooking you have undertaken.

    -Garrett (with a B.A. and midway through his M.A.)

  14. Personally, while I agree with the ideas in this post, I can't get behind the sentiment. I for one subscribe to the "more flies with honey than vinegar" way of thinking, and I can't imagine that you'd be able to convince anyone of the merit of your way of thinking by being so condescending. Yes, you made a lot of very valid points, but in the process you totally belittled that person's way of life (if, in fact, that is their way of life - I have a hunch that there were at least a few assumptions and/or generalizations thrown in there).

    I too believe that the merits of cooking at home far outweigh those of buying premade food. But I would rather convince other people of this by introducing them to yummy new foods and/or showing them how fun cooking is. I can't help but feel that insulting them would probably lead to them believing something along the lines of "cooking is just for snooty upstarts." If your goal is really to try and inform them of the joys of cooking, then you may want to try being a bit more understanding and tolerant. Whether you meant for it to or not, your disgust at "that way of life" came through clear and strong, and I'd imagine that it was quite off-putting to the poor recipient.

  15. Love love this post. I have people looking at me like I am crazy since I cook everyday. A person I know told me that she is trying to eat healthy, and guess what she does? She has salads everyday at restaurants and has their mini burgers.

  16. Homemade is the only way to go, I agree 100%. I mean of course sometimes we don't have the time to make everything, but it's way worth it.

  17. My Dad made the same 'Why do you try and make ths stuff when its there to buy!?' comment to me once.

    In his defence, he was talking about stilton and brocolli soup and I, having not put the top of the food processor on properly, was covered in green, stinking liquid, so I suspect his comment was motivated by my incompetance rather than a lack of appreciation for good, home made food.

  18. I may have to print this post and tape it to the kitchen door. I have relatives who come to visit who don't understand that the grocery store is for buying ingredients, the only thing I might grab from the freezer section is garlic bread, sometimes out of season vegetables, and sometimes pie crust (I'm terrible with pie crusts).

    Cooking is so much healthier. And you *can* cook with kids. It's called a palstic butter knife and cutting the mushrooms or stirring the batter or handing you the measuring cups. I have a 2 yr old and a 5yr old, they're in the kitchen every day. They're learning basic cooking skills and they eat healthy adult meals, not nuggets and fries, because they're interested and they're proud of what they've made.

  19. Thank you. I can't believe our society is so easily coerced into believing otherwise.

  20. Amen! I am a college sophomore currently on spring break and whilst my friends are lolling around I am cooking like a dervish, solely because it is what I love to do. Thank you for putting in to words all of my love for cooking!

  21. I couldn't agree more with your arguments for home cooking (I'd add, also, that you can make exactly what you want, but I, too, wish we could have this conversation without the fat-bashing. Whether or not it's intentional, this post definitely conjures the image of the "typical" fat person as a mouth-breathing, fast food-inhaling "heart attack waiting to happen."

    Generally, I find that the best argument a cook can make to a non-cook goes like this: "Here, try this."

  22. I completely agree with you. shankari-
    I get the same responses everyday as everyone I work with nukes their TV Dinners and I pop my last nights dinner leftovers for my lunch!!!

  23. i don't get many people like these, thankfully, most are surprised i like to cook but think it's cool because they wouldn't know what to do with a spatula to save their life. and it's always followed up with, "so when are you gonna cook for me??"

    though, when i tell people i make my own pasta noodles i get odd looks and "it's just not worth it"s. to which i can only say, "it's worth it to me." which in the end, is the only thing that really matters.

  24. I wholeheartedly agree with you. If people would just try to cook they would see the merits in it.

  25. I never used to like baking until I went to my firends house an he showed me how to make shortbread. When you see someone else do it, you realize how easy it really is.

  26. Looking for a definition of "homemade casserole" (object, not recipe) I stumbled upon this post of yours, on this blog of yours I did not know. It was a good 5 minute break from the translation I'm working on right now. Thanks for the break!

    Oh, and as an European i can't really relate to the reality of having lots of people around me that do not cook, and it is obviously easy for me to agree with you! Homemade food is so nice, that the few times we (girlfriend and I) eat out (1 per week, roughly) it becomes special, not mundane and boring. :)

  27. I've never posted on your blog, but I came across it, and have been reading it, and loving it! I must say, this post resonated with me greatly. It was the argument I had with my ex-roommate's boyfriend every time I baked a loaf of bread or made anything! I remember one night mentioning that he should recycle the bottle from which he was drinking, and he said, "What, you think it's gonna kill a dolphin or something? How many fields of wheat do you think you've killed with those loaves of bread you bake?" I thought about it, and couldn't even say anything in response...

    Thanks for this, and for your blog!


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