Cooking skills go a long way


By Elizabeth Toy

Whether you’re trying to save money, lose weight, change your diet for health reasons, impress a date or show some love to your family, cooking is a surefire way to do it.

Co-Host of “The Great British Bake-off,” Mary Berry believes that children should be able to cook at least 10 meals before they leave school.

Berry’s onto something, considering how many meals we eat throughout our lives.

It’s hard to disagree in our culture of drive-thrus, fast food takeout and the obesity epidemic that many find difficult to address.

Some may object that they don’t have time to cook, but in the 30 minutes it takes to call in, wait and drive to pick up a take-out order for dinner, one could have a healthier, cheaper and just as tasty meal ready in the comfort of their own home.

With so many resources available today, there really is no excuse not to know how to cook at least a few basic dishes.

Professional cooking shows, amateur chef videos online, food and cooking blogs, open forums and recipe sites that offer user reviews all contribute to the endless mass of instruction for even the greenest of rookies.

Living in Los Angeles exposes its residents to a world of food.  Ours is among the most culturally-diverse,   societies not, to mention one of the best foodie cities in the world, which makes for a variety of food available right in our backyard.

While restaurants are the most obvious and easiest option, we can’t forget about the various ethnic markets just a hop, skip and a jump away.

I was surprised to find that fellow students don’t know that the butcher in the meat department of a market can and will advise you on how to cook a piece of meat if you ask.

The seasoned staff in the produce department can teach you how to pick ripe fruit and discern fresh vegetables from those past their prime.

On top of controlling what and when you eat, cooking allows you to be creative and self-sufficient, not to mention picky, if you have discriminating tastes.

Living in a cosmopolitan city, it’s a given that restaurants will cater to various diets, offering gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, vegetarian and vegan entrees, or extra cheese, extra hearty and Animal-style everything to our orders.

Little do people realize that their kitchens offer the same options, which can be especially convenient at 3 a.m. when you don’t feel like having another burrito or eating at Denny’s.

Allergic to nuts? Omit them.Don’t like the taste of cow’s milk?  Substitute it. Love cheese? Add it in.

Being the master of your own kitchen gives you the power to decide exactly what you eat.

On top of that, who doesn’t love a great cook?  We all appreciate our parents and grandparents who know how to make the best Pozole, fried chicken, pho bo or lasagna.

Becoming a great cook doesn’t come without practice.

Amateur cooks can take advantage of learning from their elders, which often comes with the added bonus of learning about their ethnic roots or a family story as well.

Cooking is a great way to preserve traditions and culture within the family.

Although it might take some time and planning to cook, ultimately the rewards and life skills reaped make it worthwhile.

As people learn to cook, they will also learn shortcuts to save time, money and may even open their palates to try new ingredients.  What better aha moment than trying a food you never knew you loved because you were too uncertain to order it?

Cooking allows people to experiment for a fraction of what it might cost them at a restaurant.

If they hate it, they never have to eat it again.  If they love it, they may just decide to make it an everyday staple.

With the winter holidays approaching, we have the perfect opportunity to spend some time with family, friends or Youtube to learn a few basic dishes or meals.

Cooking is a life skill that will always come in handy, and you can count on it that cooking something yourself will almost always be healthier and cheaper than buying it at a restaurant.

Besides, ramen and scrambled eggs taste better when they’re made on the stovetop.


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