It’s no secret that food plays a multitude of roles in our world today: health, community, tradition and pleasure. Since I was extremely young, my mom has imparted basic kitchen skills to me to emphasize the importance of being able to cook. In no way was this a reinforcement of the stereotype that “women belong in the kitchen.” Instead, these lessons serve as a form of empowerment, in the sense that knowing how to cook and maintain a kitchen allows me to live a healthy life, form communities of my own, carry on traditions and gain pleasure from the experience. Here are some of the most important pieces of advice she’s given to me.
Always clean as you go
Though it might be a pain in the moment, washing dishes as you use them while you’re cooking will serve you well later. Cutting the 15-minute cleanup period out of your kitchen routine allows you to move on to the next thing the second you finish cooking. When you come back to make something else later, your kitchen will be spotless already, allowing you to jump right in. It’s all about ease, productivity and peace of mind. This lesson carries into the rest of my life too. By keeping the area around me uncluttered, I maintain a clean state of mind, and from there, I can do just about anything.
Keep a binder of recipes
In today’s internet age, it’s easy enough to go online and find a recipe for anything you might want to make. Investing in a binder and some plastic sleeves and printing out the recipes you like, however, saves you from the pain of trying to remember which chocolate chip cookie recipe it was that you enjoyed so much the last time you baked.
Work on a few go-to potluck dishes
There’s nothing like the stress of trying to figure out what to bring to a potluck. Swapping out that bag of chips you picked up from the store on the way over for a homemade dish is sure to make a good impression on the group. Having a go-to salad, dessert or casserole recipe is a good way to ensure that this is the case every time. Putting tiny bits of extra effort like this into other areas of your life really resonates with others and helps you to form deeper connections.
Keep your knives sharp
There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to cut something with a dull knife. To save your time and frustration for more pressing concerns in your life, invest in sharpening your knives. Trust me, it makes a difference. If there are other things you can invest in to make your life easier — high-quality ingredients and self-care products, to name a few — they’re most likely worth it.
Plan and shop for your meals at the beginning of the week
Nothing says time management like having your meals planned out and prepped at the start of the week. Avoiding that impulsive takeout order saves you money and is overall healthier. Go the extra mile and cut up vegetables ahead of time — you’ll be thanking yourself in the future. Even if you’re not a natural planner, conveying this lesson to the rest of your life and taking time to plan out your schedule helps to ensure you’re able to accomplish all your goals.
Learning these lessons from my mom has brought us closer together, taught me to stay on top of things and emphasized the impact a good meal can have on my life. It’s about more than eating: it’s a way to carry on traditions, build lasting bonds and develop strong communities. By following these tips, you’ll be able to go out and run the world with a full stomach and a happy heart!
Contact Beatrice Aronson at [email protected].