Guest Column: Think outside the frozen-dinner box
When you’re growing up at home, you learn to do a lot of things. You learn to ride a bike, you learn to drive a car (although, some people may still need help with this), you learn to fight with your parents, but one thing you often don’t learn how to do is cook.
So, what exactly are you supposed to do when you move away from home to a new university, new living space and, essentially, a new chapter of your life, but lack the necessary kitchen skills to make a decent plate of food?
Venturing into the mysterious world of cooking could be compared to the post-secondary dating world. Exciting, scary, adventurous, it comes with ups and downs, loves and hates, with the hope that after everything is said and done, you’ll still be friends.
Well, that was my experience anyway…
Since the idea of cooking from scratch is an unfamiliar territory for so many, it’s only natural to lean towards the quick fix: Food courts, pizza pops, Ichiban noodles, etc.
The allure of glossy packaging and simple preparation is all too appealing, not unlike Lindsay Lohan pre-downward spiral, but what if I told you that a delicious pesto sauce for pasta can be made in five minutes? Or, perhaps, that a roast chicken meal for four can be whipped up for under $20?
Do I have your attention now? Thank you.
Start From Scratch is a non-profit cooking initiative that I established last year in hopes of encouraging post-secondary students to think outside of “the box” when it comes to the kitchen. No frozen pizzas, no boxed macaroni and cheese and, for the love of God, no Cheez Whiz (OK, I guess that’s technically a jar, not a box)!
One year later, the program has seen individuals of varying culinary disadvantages work through 10 weeks of hands-on cooking. Throughout the 10-week process, Start From Scratch focuses on various cooking styles, all with student budget and time restraints in mind.
This week our program’s winter session begins, taking 30 new participants and showing them that, yes, they in fact can cook.
We touch on a lot of different topics in this class. Anywhere from how to boil pasta (yes, some people have never done that before — scary, right?) to making risotto or preparing a three-course meal perfect for a romantic date night.
Though some dishes (i.e. risotto) can sound intimidating, I’m here to tell you that cooking is not difficult. Let’s consider that Start From Scratch’s mantra: “Cooking is not difficult.”
You just need someone to show you the ropes. Whether that avenue is my Start From Scratch program, watching YouTube videos, or going back home to your mother for lessons, I promise you that you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the ease of creating in the kitchen.
Aside from the obvious nutritional benefits of cooking from scratch, there is nothing more rewarding than enjoying a full plate of food that you created. There is something to be said about sitting down for dinner and being proud of what you’ve prepared.
Food is what fuels you, so why eat crap?